Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation homepage > Notebooks of Paul Brunton > Category 21: Mentalism > Chapter 3: The Individual and World Mind

The Individual and World Mind

Philosophy does not treat the world as a shadow. So long as we do not treat our own selves as shadows, we cannot treat the world thus, since we as finite beings are parts of the world. Nor does Philosophy deprive man of his reality. It only shifts the centre of gravity without making him lose anything at all.

There is no other way in which we can think of things than as really existent. This will remain true whether we pause, reflect, and grasp their mentalness or whether, with the unthinking millions, we accept the appearance of matter for their sole reality and seek to penetrate no further.

He is quite right in questioning the usefulness of getting involved in an endless study of the intricate classifications of his surroundings, if they are illusory. From the standpoint of the Ultimate Path such a study is a waste of time and therefore is not indulged in. The aim of this path is to know the ultimate reality--knowing which, all its illusory reflections are naturally understood. However, he must be careful in the use of the word "illusory." The world is not illusory but the apprehension of it through the senses is. Each object regarded separately as an independent entity is illusory but regarded as what it is in its formless essence it is real. To put this in plainer language: everything seen is merely an idea in the mind. Ideas come and go and in this sense only are unreal; but the stuff out of which they are formed--that is, Mind--does not come and go and constitutes the ultimate basis of all ideas and therefore of their ultimate reality. He seeks to understand what this Mind is.

He may now begin to realize that all the theosophical teachings about the seven principles of man, the five tattvas (cosmic forces), and prakriti (root matter) are teachings given to beginners who are unable to grasp the great truth that all these are merely ideas and that Mind alone is what he should seek to know. H.P. Blavatsky gave these teachings because she knew that the nineteenth-century West was not metaphysically minded but rather scientifically inclined and science in those days was horribly materialistic. What else could she do but give out these lower grade teachings? She herself writes in one of her books that she has given only three or four turns of the key in the lock of universal mystery. The time has come in the mid-twentieth century to give the remaining turns which will make known the higher philosophical truth for which mankind is now better prepared.

To say that the world does not exist helps neither the cause of truth nor the seeker after truth. To admit that it does exist but to qualify the admission by adding "but not materially, only mentally" is to describe experience accurately. The dream exists in the dreaming mind as a series of thoughts, even though its world is not physical.

Whatever the five senses tell us about things and people, scenes and events, in our experience is certainly there and is not denied at all: such denial is emphatically outside the claim of mentalism.

The nature of world experience, such as moving, talking, or reading, must eventually be understood as mental or mind-made; but your experience of its activity or forms does not change, only your understanding of it: that is, that it is basically mental activity and these are mental forms. For whatever they do and however they behave or seem to behave, whatever you can know of them can be grasped only with the mind. They obviously have their own mental existence and activity even when you are not present to observe it. We must keep our common sense even when learning to reason philosophically.

But all this does not mean that philosophy asks us to mistrust the witness of our senses. That is correct enough for all ordinary, practical uses. But it does ask us to search more deeply into the significance of all sense-experience.

As mental experience the world certainly exists but it is not the highest kind of existence. We can hope and look for another which transcends the present one. Nor is it necessary to wait for death to find it.

The laws of Nature remain still unchanged even when we find that Nature is mental, and not material.

To assert that the world is not there, that it does not exist, that the enlightened person does not see it, is to confuse beginners. Also it is semantically incomplete. Students would be more receptive, would understand more clearly, if they were told that it does exist but only in the way that a dream exists, as an idea in, and an experience of, consciousness.

Nothing of the existence of anything in the world is taken away by mentalism but everything of it still remains.

Any teaching which fails to concede the existence of this world not only fails to have any practical application to human life but also wastes our time in its study.

Mentalism is not so foolish as to deny the existence of our familiar world, the one we daily experience; it does deny that it is experienced independently of the mind or externally to the mind.

In the higher philosophy the existence of the world is not denied, as it is by Indian Vedantins and Christian Scientists. It is no less real than humanity. Only it must be understood that it is a manifestation of Mind, not an illusion. This being the One Reality, it follows that the world cannot be unreal. The form it takes is transient, however, but its absence is not.

Also, as far as world-manifestation is concerned, causality is not denied but accepted. However, it cannot be separated from succession in time. When, by ultramystic methods, the Mind-in-itself is known in its unmanifest state--that is to say, its timeless state--causality disappears.

The human mind as ordinarily known is certainly incapable of inventing so many marvellous processes in Nature. The world is the invention of Universal Mind. But the latter functions in and through the human mind. What it presents is common for all men. But it enters into humanity in consciousness only and is therefore an idea. Owing to individual uniqueness the idea is not quite the same for all; each gets an aspect, as it were. But even the disappearance of humanity from the earth would not entail the disappearance of all natural phenomena, for this cannot happen if other beings exist, such as animals.

Mentalism does not reduce our experience of the world to a shadow. It lets us keep the reality we feel but points to an ultimate reality from which that feeling derives.

How can a man neglect the presence of the world in which he lives, the body in which he thinks, and call himself a philosopher? How can he dare to assert that neither of them is present?

He who thinks in a balanced fashion can accept the world's presence as a fact of experience without accepting the crude materialistic theory which makes its physical presence the only one. He can find its reality in conscious-mind, not in matter, without running to the opposite extreme of rejecting that presence and denying that experience.

My fellow creatures are themselves but ideas, no less than the inanimate objects against whose background I see them. For they too are known to me only as reports of my mind. Nay, more, the very fleshy frames whereby they take individual shape before my eyes, and in which they are embodied, are but sense-images whose habitat is entirely subjective.

If they are only waves of energy, they are still recognizable as men and trees; if they are only ideas in consciousness, they are still taken for real men and palpable trees.

Unless a man is blind, deaf, dumb, and skinless, or anaesthetized by a chemical drug, his body will certainly register the impressions made upon it by the world outside. That is to say, he will become aware of the world's existence, be he philosopher or not. To a mentalist, the nature of this awareness is a different matter but the fact is still there.

It may be said that doctrines which try to persuade us that the world around us has no real existence are hardly likely to help us become efficient citizens.

The dream analogy

That life is a kind of dream is the hint given by religion, the experience felt in meditation, the knowledge correctly understood by philosophy.

Earth life is but a dream, lived out in a dream physical body amid dream environment. Dream experiences are only ideas; during sleep-dream man sees, hears, touches, tastes, and smells exactly as he does during waking-dream. Hence waking is but materialized ideas, but still ideas. God's cosmic dream: all universal activities are but different ideas of God, divine ideation made material and thrown upon the screen of human consciousness. The cosmic illusion is impinged upon man's sense and seen from within by Mind through consciousness, sensation, and bodily organ.

The world is neither an illusion nor a dream but is analogically like both. It is true that the mystics or yogis do experience it as such. This is a step forward toward liberation but must not be mistaken for liberation itself. When they pass upward to the higher or philosophic stage they will discover that all is Mind, whether the latter be creatively active or latently passive; that the world is, in its essential stuff, this Mind although its particular forms are transient and mortal; and that therefore there is no real difference between earthly experience and divine experience. Those who are wedded to forms, that is, appearances, set up such a difference and posit spirit and matter, nirvana and samsara, Brahman and Maya, and so forth, as antithetic opposites, but those who have developed insight perceive the essential stuff of everything even while they perceive its forms; hence they see all as One. It is as if a dreamer were to know that he was dreaming and thus understand that all the dream scenes and figures were nothing but one and the same stuff--his mind--while not losing his dream experience.

The common objections to mentalism may be summarized in three forms: (1) A thing does not cease to exist when we cease to think about it; thus, Australia is still to be found on the map even when we are not thinking about Australia. (2) The fact that we do not think of a thing does not prevent such a thing coming into existence. (3) Our awareness of things is largely quite involuntary; we do not choose to think them into existence--they just are there. The answer which mentalism makes to these objections, and to all others which may arise, is a simple one. It is this: consider your life as a dream! All possible objections will then have no ground on which to stand. They appear true while we are under the illusion of dreaming, but they are seen to be false as soon as we awake from the dream itself.

That man is already half-awake from the illusion of this World who knows that he is dreaming.

Life on the world scene was likened by Marcus Aurelius not only to a dream, but even to a delirium! Yet he was a man of much practical experience, a victorious soldier and a Roman emperor. And where the Greek poet Pindar and the Greek playwright Aristophanes used dream only as a metaphor to describe this physical life of ours, Plotinus used it as an actuality.

"Do not tell me that the bomb which destroys my home is only an idea!" To this there is the reply that once again we may call on the help of dreams to illustrate a difficult point: the tiger which mauls you in a dream is admittedly an idea. Both tiger and bomb are vividly present to your mind--but both are mental. How is it that sensations of pain in an amputated foot still occur although the external material foot is no longer there? In both cases we are clearly dealing with workings of the mind. That is undeniable.

Just as it is the dreamer himself who unknowingly makes the figures and creates the things which appear to him, so the waking man experiences only his own thoughts of the world. When those thoughts are not there, he is not there. And his world is not there: he and his experiences are contents of the mind. It is not, as commonly fancied, that he has a mind but that he--the ego-thought--is in the mind and never apart from it. The world comes before the waking dreamer just as it comes before the sleeping dreamer, only it comes more coherently and consistently and logically. The mystery of the universe is in the end the mystery of mind. The reasonable question to which scientists should address themselves, and will in the end have to, is "What is Mind?" To call it brain, flesh, is a misleading answer.

His physical senses tell him that this world is as real as anything can be. His intellectual reflection and intuitive experience tell him that it is dreamlike.

Life is a dream, an infinite dream, without beginning and without end.

The young Swami Vivekananda could see the world only as a dream. While strolling in the public park in Calcutta, he struck his head against the railings several times, to see if they were real or mere illusion of the mind. Thus he got a glimpse of nondualism.

That pain is the mental end-result of a physical process is not denied by materialists, but that its mentalistic nature can exist independently of that process is denied. We must ask them to look at their dreams and especially at their nightmares.

To awaken from the world-dream and to tell one's fellow dreamers that its reality is a supposed one is to become a voice crying in the wilderness.

The grim illusions of a man's dreaming nightmare cause him trouble and suffering so long as he accepts them as real. If he arouses himself and awakes, they are seen for the hallucinations they are. The disciple's long-drawn endeavours at self-arousal throughout the quest meet with success when he knows and feels that waking life itself is like a dream, is after all only a thought that is taken up again and again.

Life is only a dream. Nothing we learn can change that hard fact. But we can be conscious dreamers.

They instinctively shrink from the notion that this entire life of theirs, the possessions, the family, the ambitions--all is like a dream, mere ideas. The ego winces at the blow thus struck at its own reality. The flesh rebels.

If life seems like a dream, as it does to him, even the dreamer--he himself--seems part of the dream, too.

It is true that only a person of much intelligence can understand the mentalist doctrine in all its fullness, but it is also true that the simple statement "Life is like a dream" can be understood by any ordinary intelligence.

Like a dreamer, we see a world around us and act in it but are mesmerized into accepting the reality of our experience so long as the dream itself persists. And, like a dreamer, we remain basically unaffected by all this illusory experience, for we are still the Overself, not the mesmerized ego.

A man's attempt to find significance in the universe's life (which must therefore include his own) need not prevent his holding it all--quest, self, the daily show--lightly. For the notion may be strongly implanted in him that life has the quality of a dream, that the world and its history is a flow of ideas through consciousness, and that all personality, including his own, is part of the entertainment.

In the end he will discover that man as Mind creates his own world of objects. To understand this let him just look at his dreams. He is not conscious of having created them, yet where else but from pure consciousness have they emerged? This shows how mind has the power to manufacture scenes, people, and such. The reference here is to what is called the Unconscious Mind.

Many have felt during meditation or even outside of it the dreamlike character of the world. As dreams are only thoughts, this means that they have felt the truth of mentalism. However, the world is only like but not actually a dream. When one meditates on the reason still more subtly he finds that it is really the substance of God reflected forth, the self-externalization of Cosmic Mind. It is there divine in essence. Its form is changing and an appearance but its ultimate stuff is, in reality, God. Life here on earth is divine in this sense. Once this is grasped, he finds a fresh basis for conduct, a deeper inspiration for activity. He cannot be a mere dreamer, cave dweller, or drifter. He must act. But actions will now be inspired by and performed for that deeper self within, and will therefore be impersonal and altruistic.

There is only one mind and all such names as cosmic mind, over-mind, and so forth are merely imperfect and partial concepts of that ultimate single mind which philosophy puts forth in order to help students advance to a higher stage. These concepts are not false, however. They represent aspects of the same ultimate mind as seen from different standpoints. As these standpoints are not the highest they do not yield the final truth. It will be well therefore for him to accustom himself to the highest standpoint and to remember always that there is but one mind, one reality, one principle, one substance, one being only. All things are forms or shapes which it appears to take temporarily. The key to the understanding of these admittedly difficult points is to think of the universe seen during dream and then to remember that that universe itself, its seas and continents, its peoples and animals, its happenings in time, its distances in space, do not exist apart from the mind of the dreaming person; that even if millions of people exist within that universe they are nothing else than ideas passing through the mind of the dreamer; and that their ultimate stuff or reality is mind although to the dreamer they appear real, as do also water, fire, gas, and even the ninety-odd chemical elements. Now he must try to regard the waking universe in the same way, with this difference: that because the ego is one of the dreamed-of figures in the waking dreams it must be eliminated if one is to break through the dream and ascertain that it is a dream in the universal mind.

When we realize how the mind weaves a whole host of creatures during sleep out of its own self, we comprehend a little of the meaning of the statement that the entire world is but a mental creation.

Only when we wake from a dream do we begin to grasp its significance, but before then we may be utterly deceived by it. Only when we wake from the dream of materialism do we begin to see how utterly it has deceived us.

If they discover the mentalist truth that this existence is like a dream, will not men's practical existence in the world become imperilled? Those who are already unbalanced will become more so. Those who are rigidly fixed in materialistic attitudes will become uncertain and unsettled. But those who come to it previously prepared by their intellectual and emotional history will be able to use their worldly life responsibly but without being mastered by it.

Mark Twain, the American novelist, wrote a book and promptly died when it was finished--even before it could be printed and published. This book was entitled The Mysterious Stranger, and in it he put forward the probability that all our life may be but a dream and that if this is so we can learn from it to support life's difficulties and endure till the end. Was it possible that Twain got some sort of intuition and guidance when the shadow of death was beginning to fall upon him?

To some who begin to suspect that all this may be like a dream--which is a hazy but imprecise glimpse of mentalism--it comes as a shock.

While he is under the spell of the World-Mind's magic he sees these pictures and experiences this dream as if they were the last word of reality.

Although to the mentalist the world appears like a dream it does not appear as a dream.

Sufi teaching is that the world is Khayal of Khwab-i Khuda--that is, the thought or dream of God.

Not only does one's past life turn all-too-quickly into the likeness of a dream but, what is worse, into a distant dream.

We are all like figures seen in a cinema show, where they and the episodes are illusory but the screen and projector real. Where do they go when the show ends?

The abstract idea that life is like a dream and that the world is but a thought-form is converted into a felt experience by the philosopher.

Individual mind and the world image

The thought of the external world comes from the Universal Mind (God) originally, while thoughts which pertain to personal characteristics come out of the subconscious tendencies developed in previous incarnations. In both cases the power which initiates thoughts is outside the conscious self but for that very reason is irresistible. The work of the Spiritual Quest is to enter into co-operative activity with God, on the one hand, and to conquer those subconscious tendencies, on the other.

How hard for the average mind to grasp this central fact, that the World-Idea is the world-creation. The one does not precede the other. The second is not a copy in matter of the first. Man has to work, with his senses and his intellect, when he wants to convert his ideas into objects. But the World-Mind does not need to make an effort in order to make a universe, does not in reality have anything to do at all, for Its thought is the thing. Some mystics and most occultists have failed to perceive this. Their realization of the Spirit did not bring with it the full revelation of the Spirit. This is because they have not thoroughly comprehended--usually through lack of competent instruction--its utter emptiness. Nothing can come out of the Universal Mind that is not mental, not even the material world which men believe they inhabit and experience. Science is on its way, through its delvings into atomic structure, to a suspicion of this tremendous fact; but so many scientists are so devoid of metaphysical faculty that they uphold materialism and deny mentalism!

For each man the world is what his thoughts of it give him, expressed as physical sensations and perceptions as they are in waking, or as dreams in sleeping. What holds them all together is a greater being--the World-Mind. Without such thoughts there is no universe for him.

The universe is mind-pictured, mind-made out of mind-stuff by the Great Mind. Even we, with little finite minds, must come into activity before we can get any experience of any world at all.

The world-image is duplicated in our individual mind but this duplicate image is entirely our own.

We receive as by hypnosis the World-Mind's master image because we are so intimately rooted in it. But we receive it only within the limits of our particular capacity and only upon the plane of our individual perceptions. That is, we think only a minute fragment of the whole thought as it exists in the World-Mind's consciousness.

All these little minds which people the universe and are active in Nature's kingdoms could not have come into being unless there were a universal originating Mind. They point to its existence, silently speak of their divine Source. The materialistic notion that individual centres of intelligent life could have been produced by non-intelligent "matter" is an utter absurdity.

It is the power of imaginative thought, both human and deific, which produces the world-appearance for us.

It is asked why, if the world is like a dream or a hallucination, we all have the same dream or suffer the same hallucination. Why do we project it in common instead of independently, since we all do have quite different dreams when asleep at night or quite different reveries when awake by day? The answer is that there is another and vaster Mind behind our personal minds which imposes the same world-image upon them all, so that all see it and live in it. Moreover, they are of necessity themselves projected by this Mind so that this image is not less real for them than their own selves. The mind makes for itself this world of illusion, this stage of space and time and form. But it does not make it independently of all prompting. For the image that it constructs is imposed upon it--or projected into it--by the Mind behind it.

The Theosophic doctrine that the physical world is an externalization of an astral plane or even the higher Platonic doctrine that it crystallizes a world of divine ideation is given to beginners as a help to give them a crude grasp, a first step towards the theory that the world is an idea, until they are mentally developed. When their mind is mature they are then told to discard the astral plane theory and told the pure truth that all existence is idea.

A popular misconception of mentalism must be cleared. When we say that the world does not exist for man apart from his own mind, this is not to say that man is the sole world-creator. If that were so he could easily play the magician and reshape a hampering environment in a day. No!--what mentalism really teaches is that man's mind perceives, by participating in it, the world-image which the World-Mind creates and holds. Man alone is not responsible for this image, which could not possibly exist if it did not exist also in the World-Mind's consciousness.

The precise shape which the idea will take when it reaches consciousness will depend on the general tendencies of the person.

Since the world is never found to be apart from our own minds, we are forced to relate it to them. And since it is equally obvious that the surface part of them does not deliberately bring it into existence we are further forced to deduce, first, that the deeper and unconscious part must do so and, second, that this second part must be cosmic in nature and hold all other individual minds rooted in its depths. This deduction, arrived at by reason, is confirmed by experience but not by ordinary experience. It is confirmed by sinking a shaft down through the mind in mystical meditation and arriving at our secondary cosmic self.

The World-Mind is not a magnified man and the world-image is not "pushed" into our consciousness by its personal and persistent effort. The mere presence of this image in it is sufficient to produce a reflected image in all other minds although they will absorb only so much as their particular plane of space-time perception can absorb.

The individual mind presents the world-image to itself through and in its own consciousness. If this were all the truth then it would be quite proper to call the experience a private one. But because the individual mind is rooted in and inseparable from the universal mind, it is only a part of the truth. Man's world-thought is held within and enclosed by God's thought.

Are we, and the universe too, neither subjects nor objects but projects?

A metaphysical tenet which has previously been studied is that the stored-up karmic impressions of world-experience live powerfully and continuously within the personal consciousness as thought-forms of those external things and beings which form the basis of its own separateness. Indeed, without his knowing it they compel the individual to think this world into his personal experience. Therefore man cannot have the body-thought without having the world-thought at the same time. The reverse is equally true. His consciousness of the physical ego is interlocked with his consciousness of the physical world. This is why he loses the conjoint consciousness of both during sleep when the "I"-thought lets go of the body-thought and is itself withdrawn into the mind. If now we consider meditation again, we find that when attention becomes so concentrated on its object that it actually identifies itself with it, then the consciousness of the latter as a separate existence stops altogether. The process which begins with simple concentration gradually flows until it consummates itself in deep reverie. Mentally there is then only a single thought and physically a state of intense self-absorption is induced. The latter will indeed seem to an outside observer to be what he is likely to call a "trance" and it is generally so called by writers on the subject of yoga. Hence when an ordinary yogi is able to bring his thinking operations to a dead stop as the climax of his practices, all these karmic impressions are annulled. The five senses then cease operating because the mind's attention is absent from their organs, with the consequence that the entire external world disappears from his field of consciousness and he passes into a trance. Nature, however, reasserts herself and revives the impressions, with the consequence that he passes out of his trance and back into world awareness again. If now he ruminates over what has happened to him he feels, then, that the world is only a thought.

Just as religion is a foreshadowing of philosophy and just as an anthropomorphic God is a faint adumbration of the One for crude minds, so the divisions into matter and mind, objective reality and inner fancy, this world and an unseen world, are unconscious foreshadowings of the mind and its world-thought.

If each object of human experience is but an idea in the human mind, all the objects, including all the human beings themselves, constitute but a single idea in the divine Mind--the World-Idea.

Those who cannot accept the doctrine of mentalism have sometimes thought up very clever attempts to refute it. My friend, Professor Ernest Wood, once said to me that by leaving any object in a dark room and by turning a camera in its direction, fitted with a light and operated by a timing switch, so as to switch on the light in the absence of any human being in the room, a photograph of the object would thus be taken; and its existence apart from the thought of any human being would thus be proven. He said that an even simpler refutation of mentalism would be to walk over some rubbish in the dark which you did not know was there and to stumble over it. You could not possibly have thought of its existence, not knowing it was there, and yet it did exist! The answer to these clever criticisms is simple. Professor Wood, in the first case, had forgotten the person who had put the camera and the light in the dark room. That person had turned the camera towards the object and must surely have been thinking of the object. This, however, is only an answer to satisfy the requirements of logic; the real answer which philosophy gives is that the world-thought is given us by the Cosmic Mind--we do not create it. The presence or absence of any particular object within it does not therefore depend upon the individual thinking it, but his awareness of it will depend on this. The object in the dark room, the heap of rubbish in a dark street, exist for any individual's experience only so far as they come into his consciousness. Whether or not they exist for him at other times or for other men or for the Cosmic Mind does not and cannot alter this single fact--that his senses could never tell him about them unless his mind tells him about them, first and last.

Just as a man cannot lift himself up by means of his own shoelaces, so he cannot ordinarily get outside his own world-idea; the very faculty by which he sees and hears his surroundings selects some vibrations and shuts out others.

The language of the workshops is meaningless when applied to the world. The question of who "made" it simply does not arise for the man who has pushed philosophical enquiries to their farthest conclusion.

Consciousness, with all its wonderful attributes and capacities, is a faculty shared with the World-Mind, however shrunken it may be in man.

The experience gained through the physical senses is similar to, but not identical with, the experience gained through the imagination. That means they are both forms of mental experience but your imagination is entirely your own private affair, whereas the world-idea is a process wherein you participate with God, who holds this world-idea and you also with the Infinite Mind.

The individual person participates in this making of his world (although unconsciously and involuntarily) in this projection of the mind.

Supplementing the answer to your first group of questions, it should be said that your thought of things and people and surroundings makes their existence dependent on you for yourself alone. For other people, experience of the same objects depends on their thought and not on yours. The reason for this common experience is that there is one cosmic mind behind your mind and the other people's minds.

Are we to assume, as the unexamined and unanalysed experience tells us, that there is an external object outside us and an internal cognition of it inside us? No!--mentalism asserts that a cognition has only another cognition for its object, that the private and personal idea of the world "picks up" the cosmic and universal idea of it.

He who experiences the world, who touches, sees, and hears it through the five physical senses, actually gives it existence for himself. But this would not be possible if he were really, solipsistically, alone. He is not. For his little circle of mind is embedded in the larger circle of the World-Idea, itself the expression of the World-Mind. And it is from this fundament of all Being and, especially, Consciousness, that his personality gets its own consciousness. Man is literally in God but insists on holding to his littleness!

The interval between two thoughts is a very real thing yet not known for what it is because it is the merest fraction of a second. What is it? Consciousness. Deep sleep is the same but more continuous. It too is consciousness. Yet it too is not known for what it is. Why? The answer is that we have here a paradox. Consciousness not only gives us awareness of the world but also gives that world its very existence. We as individual entities share with the World-Mind in the making of that world from thought-stuff through the element of God in us but do not recognize this relationship, often denying it.

All the different kinds of phenomena which exist in the universe are all mental, manifested and received mentally by participation between the individual minds and the universal mind.

The faculty by which external contacts are perceived is not merely waking consciousness alone, nor even dream consciousness alone, but also the deeper mind behind both. Although the world exists for the individual because his ordinary consciousness perceives it, it does not exist for him only because of that. The deeper Mind is the universal element within him, above the personal and separate consciousness. The stimulus for his perceptions is indirectly derived from it too.

The existence of "archetypal ideas" or "divine thoughts" can be proven to exist nowhere else except in his own mind, therefore they have no more reality, no more value, and no more duration than other thoughts. The cosmic mind and his mind are ultimately one and the same. False habits of thinking cause false perception; hence he is not aware of this. The cosmic mind "created" all these ideas of objects in the universe, including the self, the "I," in the same way that a dreamer creates his own dream universe. Mind is ALL we know, all we ever shall know. To discover what colour is, he must remember that the coloured object is itself but an idea; what can the colour be save an idea also?

When the mind is not active one is unaware of its existence--for instance, when attention is wandering or in deep sleep. A study of physiology shows that eye, nerve, and brain must combine to tell a person that he sees something and even then he does not see it until the mind pays attention to it. The truth is that the mind creates its own objects--but not the individual, finite mind; only the Mind which is back of it and which is infinite and common to all individuals. This is difficult to understand, so to make it easier one has to think of dream. In that state he can see cities, men, women, and children, mountains and flowers, hear voices, feel pain, and so forth. What is more, everything is so real then that at the time it is the waking state to him, not dream. Now who created all these scenes and things? Not his finite mind, for he is not conscious of having done so. Hence there is a larger mind within him which has this power of manufacturing scenes, objects, and events so vividly that he takes them to be real. This reality is a myth or, as the Indians call it, Maya.

Mrs. Eddy came extremely close to grasping this point and indeed of all the Western cults Christian Science stands closest to the ultimate teaching. Unfortunately it has mixed much error with truth and is ignorant of other vital teachings which are needed to complete the circle of knowledge. This impurity is due to the ego--the selfish, grasping personality which Mrs. Eddy possessed and which prevented her full initiation. The ego must be utterly yielded if one wants truth.

All this implies that matter is also a myth, unreal. Still more it implies that the ego is a myth, illusory. Here, then, is the first practice of the ultimate path: think constantly of that Mind which is producing the ego, all the other egos around, and all the world, in fact. Keep this up until it becomes habitual. The consequence is that one tends in time to regard his own ego with complete detachment, as though he were regarding somebody else. Furthermore, it forces him to take the standpoint of the all, and to see unity as fundamental being.

Those who have shown the worst features of hate, selfishness brutality, and separateness, are as much productions of this infinite Mind as others--only they have concentrated their full attention on the ego, and they have clouded reason by passion, while submitting to the stronger mental forces which propaganda has hypnotically let loose upon them.

Sensations belong to the subject himself; they are his own. But the same ones come to others, persist in all persons' world-experience. There is a consciousness, reflected in each one, which keeps the image intact. Hence part of the world-image does not originate with the person but with the World-Mind.

It may be asked: if mentalism is a true doctrine then why are we not able to alter physical things, such as our fleshly bodies, for instance, merely by exercising our thought upon them? We have to answer that it is the creative activity which gave rise to these things, and it is admittedly no less a mental activity than introspection, remembrance, and reverie, but whereas the latter occur in the individual conscious mind, the former occurs independently of us in the cosmic subconscious mind; and that the miracles which do unquestionably occur occasionally are primarily performed by the cosmic will and only secondarily because the necessary conditions of intense concentration or utter self-surrender have been successfully provided. In short, man's creative power is only a semi-independent one.

Everything in this world is a thought in the Cosmic Mind. Man himself is no exception to this statement. He knows himself and he knows the things of his experiences only so far as he thinks of them.

In the end all things finally come from World-Mind and for us come from mind, which itself comes from the same source.

So long as men fail to understand that they are able to know they are experiencing the world only because there is an infinite Consciousness which is behind and which makes possible their own little consciousnesses, so long will they spurn truth and sneer at truth-revealers. (21-3-93)

The world-idea is thought by the individual mind and, in the process, inevitably shaped according to its limitations. But the first cause and ultimate source of that idea cannot be this mind. For the idea is "given" to it. It must be sought for in that wherefrom the individual mind derives its own existence. It must be sought, therefore, in the World-Mind. (21-3-96)

It is not enough to say that the world is man's idea. We need to know why he has it at all. To be sufficiently explained, his world-idea must be brought into relation with the World-Mind's world-idea, because his individual mind is inseparably rooted in the World-Mind. (21-3-97)

It is on account of this union existing between the individual minds and the World-Mind that we are forced to give our attention to the world-idea. (21-3-98)

If the egocentricity of human beings were to have free and full play in the making of their world-environment, the consequence would be a disorderly, disharmonious chaos and not an orderly, harmonious cosmos. But the fact that they are unable to create or mold the world to their will shows plainly that they have only a very limited role in world-making. It just is not true that the human mind can build a new body for itself or transform an old one, or shape its surroundings entirely according to its desires. (21-3-99)

I came across the following humorous piece in The Triple Abyss, by Warwick Fairfax. It refers to Oxford.
There was a young fellow named Todd
Who said, "It's exceedingly odd
To think that this tree
Should continue to be
When there's no one about in the Quad."

The reply:

There is nothing especially odd;
I am always about in the Quad.
And that's why this tree
Can continue to be
When observed by
Yours faithfully, God.

According to the mentalistic cosmogony, the universe is a theatre wherein each actor plays many different parts.

We experience the world through the activity of a Power greater than ourselves, yet, in another sense, it is still our own activity.

The Notebooks are copyright © 1984-1989, The Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation.