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Thought Forms Annie Besant

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Thought Forms

by Annie Besant

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Various Emotions

At a Shipwreck.—Very serious is the panic which has occasioned the very interesting group of thought-forms which are depicted in Fig. 30. They were seen simultaneously, arranged exactly as represented, though in the midst of indescribable confusion, so their relative positions have been retained, though in explaining them it will be convenient to take them in reverse order. They were called forth by a terrible accident, and they are instructive as showing how differently people are affected by sudden and serious danger. One form shows nothing but an eruption of the livid grey of fear, rising out of a basis of utter selfishness: and unfortunately there were many such as this. The shattered appearance of the thought-form shows the violence and completeness of the explosion, which in turn indicates that the whole soul of that person was possessed with blind, frantic terror, and that the overpowering sense of personal danger excluded for the time every higher feeling.

FIG. 30. At a Shipwreck

The second form represents at least an attempt at self-control, and shows the attitude adopted by a person having a certain amount of religious feeling. The thinker is seeking solace in prayer, and endeavouring in this way to overcome her fear. This is indicated by the point of greyish-blue which lifts itself hesitatingly upwards; the colour shows, however, that the effort is but partially successful, and we see also from the lower part of the thought-form, with its irregular outline and its falling fragments, that there is in reality almost as much fright here as in the other case. But at least this woman has had presence of mind enough to remember that she ought to pray, and is trying to imagine that she is not afraid as she does it, whereas in the other case there was absolutely no thought beyond selfish terror. The one retains still some semblance of humanity, and some possibility of regaining self-control; the other has for the time cast aside all remnants of decency, and is an abject slave to overwhelming emotion.

A very striking contrast to the humiliating weakness shown in these two forms is the splendid strength and decision of the third. Here we have no amorphous mass with quivering lines and explosive fragments, but a powerful, clear-cut and definite thought, obviously full of force and resolution. For this is the thought of the officer in charge—the man responsible for the lives and the safety of the passengers, and he rises to the emergency in a most satisfactory manner. It does not even occur to him to feel the least shadow of fear; he has no time for that. Though the scarlet of the sharp point of his weapon-like thought-form shows anger that the accident should have happened, the bold curve of orange immediately above it betokens perfect self-confidence and certainty of his power to deal with the difficulty. The brilliant yellow implies that his intellect is already at work upon the problem, while the green which runs side by side with it denotes the sympathy which he feels for those whom he intends to save. A very striking and instructive group of thought-forms.

On the First Night.—Fig. 31 is also an interesting specimen—perhaps unique—for it represents the thought-form of an actor while waiting to go upon the stage for a "first-night" performance. The broad band of orange in the centre is very clearly defined, and is the expression of a well-founded self-confidence—the realisation of many previous successes, and the reasonable expectation that on this occasion another will be added to the list. Yet in spite of this there is a good deal of unavoidable uncertainty as to how this new play may strike the fickle public, and on the whole the doubt and fear overbalance the certainty and pride, for there is more of the pale grey than of the orange, and the whole thought-form vibrates like a flag flapping in a gale of wind. It will be noted that while the outline of the orange is exceedingly clear and definite, that of the grey is much vaguer.

FIG. 31. On the First Night

The Gamblers.—The forms shown in Fig. 32 were observed simultaneously at the great gambling-house at Monte Carlo. Both represent some of the worst of human passions, and there is little to choose between them; although they represent the feelings of the successful and the unsuccessful gambler respectively. The lower form has a strong resemblance to a lurid and gleaming eye, though this must be simply a coincidence, for when we analyse it we find that its constituent parts and colours can be accounted for without difficulty. The background of the whole thought is an irregular cloud of deep depression, heavily marked by the dull brown-grey of selfishness and the livid hue of fear. In the centre we find a clearly-marked scarlet ring showing deep anger and resentment at the hostility of fate, and within that is a sharply outlined circle of black expressing the hatred of the ruined man for those who have won his money. The man who can send forth such a thought-form as this is surely in imminent danger, for he has evidently descended into the very depths of despair; being a gambler he can have no principle to sustain him, so that he would be by no means unlikely to resort to the imaginary refuge of suicide, only to find on awakening into astral life that he had changed his condition for the worse instead of for the better, as the suicide always does, since his cowardly action cuts him off from the happiness and peace which usually follow death.

FIG. 32. The Gambers

The upper form represents a state of mind which is perhaps even more harmful in its effects, for this is the gloating of the successful gambler over his ill-gotten gain. Here the outline is perfectly definite, and the man's resolution to persist in his evil course is unmistakable. The broad band of orange in the centre shows very clearly that although when the man loses he may curse the inconstancy of fate, when he wins he attributes his success entirely to his own transcendent genius. Probably he has invented some system to which he pins his faith, and of which he is inordinately proud. But it will be noticed that on each side of the orange comes a hard line of selfishness, and we see how this in turn melts into avarice and becomes a mere animal greed of possession, which is also so clearly expressed by the claw-like extremities of the thought-form.

At a Street Accident.—Fig. 33 is instructive as showing the various forms which the same feelings may take in different individuals. These two evidences of emotion were seen simultaneously among the spectators of a street accident—a case in which someone was knocked down and slightly injured by a passing vehicle. The persons who generated these two thought-forms were both animated by affectionate interest in the victim and deep compassion for his suffering, and so their thought-forms exhibited exactly the same colours, although the outlines are absolutely unlike. The one over whom floats that vague sphere of cloud is thinking "Poor fellow, how sad!" while he who gives birth to that sharply-defined disc is already rushing forward to see in what way he can be of assistance. The one is a dreamer, though of acute sensibilities; the other is a man of action.

FIG. 33. At a Street Accident

At a Funeral.—In Fig. 34 we have an exceedingly striking example of the advantage of knowledge, of the fundamental change produced in the man's attitude of mind by a clear understanding of the great laws of nature under which we live. Utterly different as they are in every respect of colour and form and meaning, these two thought-forms were seen simultaneously, and they represent two points of view with regard to the same occurrence. They were observed at a funeral, and they exhibit the feelings evoked in the minds of two of the "mourners" by the contemplation of death. The thinkers stood in the same relation to the dead man, but while one of them was still steeped in the dense ignorance with regard to super-physical life which is so painfully common in the present day, the other had the inestimable advantage of the light of Theosophy. In the thought of the former we see expressed nothing but profound depression, fear and selfishness. The fact that death has approached so near has evidently evoked in the mind of the mourner the thought that it may one day come to him also, and the anticipation of this is very terrible to him; but since he does not know what it is that he fears, the clouds in which his feeling is manifested are appropriately vague. His only definite sensations are despair and the sense of his personal loss, and these declare themselves in regular bands of brown-grey and leaden grey, while the very curious downward protrusion, which actually descends into the grave and enfolds the coffin, is an expression of strong selfish desire to draw the dead man back into physical life.

FIG. 34. At a Funeral

It is refreshing to turn from this gloomy picture to the wonderfully different effect produced by the very same circumstances upon the mind of the man who comprehends the facts of the case. It will be observed that the two have no single emotion in common; in the former case all was despondency and horror, while in this case we find none but the highest and most beautiful sentiments. At the base of the thought-form we find a full expression of deep sympathy, the lighter green indicating appreciation of the suffering of the mourners and condolence with them, while the band of deeper green shows the attitude of the thinker towards the dead man himself. The deep rose-colour exhibits affection towards both the dead and the living, while the upper part of the cone and the stars which rise from it testify to the feeling aroused within the thinker by the consideration of the subject of death, the blue expressing its devotional aspect, while the violet shows the thought of, and the power to respond to, a noble ideal, and the golden stars denote the spiritual aspirations which its contemplation calls forth. The band of clear yellow which is seen in the centre of this thought-form is very significant, as indicating that the man's whole attitude is based upon and prompted by his intellectual comprehension of the situation, and this is also shown by the regularity of the arrangement of the colours and the definiteness of the lines of demarcation between them.

The comparison between the two illustrations shown in this plate is surely a very impressive testimony to the value of the knowledge given by the theosophical teaching. Undoubtedly this knowledge of the truth takes away all fear of death, and makes life easier to live because we understand its object and its end, and we realise that death is a perfectly natural incident in its course, a necessary step in our evolution. This ought to be universally known among Christian nations, but it is not, and therefore on this point, as on so many others, Theosophy has a gospel for the Western world. It has to announce that there is no gloomy impenetrable abyss beyond the grave, but instead of that a world of life and light which may be known to us as clearly and fully and accurately as this physical world in which we live now. We have created the gloom and the horror for ourselves, like children who frighten themselves with ghastly stories, and we have only to study the facts of the case, and all these artificial clouds will roll away at once. We have an evil heredity behind us in this matter, for we have inherited all kinds of funereal horrors from our forefathers, and so we are used to them, and we do not see the absurdity and the monstrosity of them. The ancients were in this respect wiser than we, for they did not associate all this phantasmagoria of gloom with the death of the body—partly perhaps because they had a much more rational method of disposing of the body—a method which was not only infinitely better for the dead man and more healthy for the living, but was also free from the gruesome suggestions connected with slow decay. They knew much more about death in those days, and because they knew more they mourned less.

On Meeting a Friend.—Fig. 35 gives us an example of a good, clearly-defined and expressive thought-form, with each colour well marked off from the others. It represents the feeling of a man upon meeting a friend from whom he has been long separated. The convex surface of the crescent is nearest to the thinker, and its two arms stretch out towards the approaching friend as if to embrace him. The rose colour naturally betokens the affection felt, the light green shows the depth of the sympathy which exists, and the clear yellow is a sign of the intellectual pleasure with which the creator of the thought anticipates the revival of delightful reminiscences of days long gone by.

FIG. 35. On Meeting a Friend

The Appreciation of a Picture.—In Fig. 36 we have a somewhat complex thought-form representing the delighted appreciation of a beautiful picture upon a religious subject. The strong pure yellow marks the beholder's enthusiastic recognition of the technical skill of the artist, while all the other colours are expressions of the various emotions evoked within him by the examination of so glorious a work of art. Green shows his sympathy with the central figure in the picture, deep devotion appears not only in the broad band of blue, but also in the outline of the entire figure, while the violet tells us that the picture has raised the man's thought to the contemplation of a lofty ideal, and has made him, at least for the time, capable of responding to it. We have here the first specimen of an interesting class of thought-forms of which we shall find abundant examples later—that in which light of one colour shines out through a network of lines of some quite different hue. It will be noted that in this case from the mass of violet there rise many wavy lines which flow like rivulets over a golden plain; and this makes it clear that the loftiest aspiration is by no means vague, but is thoroughly supported by an intellectual grasp of the situation and a clear comprehension of the method by which it can be put into effect.

FIG. 36. The Appreciation of a Picture


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