The Word Foundation


Harold W. Percival



Section 5

Character of the mental atmosphere of the human. Moral aspect of thinking. The ruling thought. Mental attitude and mental set. Sense-knowledge and self-knowledge. Conscience. Honesty of the mental atmosphere. Results of honest thinking. Dishonest thinking. Thinking a lie.

The doer’s mental destiny is of the character of the mental atmosphere, comprising intellectual endowments and their relation to the physical body.

All the thoughts one has created which have not been balanced are in his mental atmosphere and circulate there. If this atmosphere be thought of in terms of distance and dimension, most of the thoughts may be said to cycle in zones as far away as those of the stars. The present life is not affected by such distant thoughts. Those which affect the present life circulate in nearer zones and in that part of the mental which is in the active psychic atmosphere of the human. The present character of the mental atmosphere depends more upon moral than upon intellectual endowments.

Human thinking can go on only within the human’s mental atmosphere, and that atmosphere will not function except in accordance with the character of his psychic atmosphere. The character of these two atmospheres is definitely established at any given time and so is determined the nature of the thinking that can then go on in the human. In different human beings it opposes, forbids, favors or permits certain kinds of thinking. The character of the mental atmosphere has been made by thinking. The kind of thinking it opposes or favors is conditioned by the result of prior thinking. Things cannot be desired and cannot enter the psychic atmosphere unless the character of that atmosphere will permit. Even if the thing becomes an object of desire in the psychic atmosphere the desire cannot enter the mental atmosphere unless the character of that will permit it.

Thinking generates thoughts and issues them, and elaborates them before and after they have become thoughts and are issued. Thinking works out and changes the design in them and thinking makes the form for the design and exteriorizes the form through an act, an object or an event. Men are not conscious of what their thinking produces. After a thought has been exteriorized and psychic results of pain or pleasure, joy or sorrow follow, thinking upon them changes the mental atmosphere.

After the conception or entertainment of a thought and even after it is issued and so long as it has not reached the form plane, the thought may be revoked or dissipated by thinking. This will be done because conscience is heeded, because of self-interest or because of fear. It is dissipated when thinking directs the Light of the Intelligence into the thought, dissolves it and separates the Light and the desire from the object to which it is attached, which together made up the thought. Desire and the diffused Light then return to the psychic atmosphere and to the mental atmosphere from which they came.

In each case the atmospheres are affected by the thinking. If the dissolution was because the doer recognized and respected conscience, the atmospheres are improved and a tendency to reject similar thoughts is strengthened. Where the dissolution is brought about because of fear or expectation of an advantage, the atmospheres are vitiated and ready to entertain a similar thought in the future.

The moral aspect of the thinking is much more important than the intellectual gifts. Morals here mean the right relation of the doer, feeling-and-desire, to the thinker, rightness-and-reason. Mental destiny, therefore, depends primarily on feeling-and-desire; their thinking is done to satisfy them. Morals are so much more important in making the mental atmosphere than are the intellectual endowments, because the intellectual endowments are made to serve them and depend upon them. Mental endowments are of value in making a mental atmosphere, but the moral background of the mental atmosphere is more important, as mental attitude. This is so because although most of the thinking done during the day relates to work or trade or a profession and does not seem to have much to do with morals, yet what is done in trade or a profession is based on the moral condition of the mental atmosphere made by feeling-and-desire.

The morality of the mental atmosphere is a predisposition to think or to refuse to think along certain lines. Thinking limits or expands the moral tendencies, and embellishes or enlarges them and makes new channels for fuller expression, as urged by desire.

Present in the mental atmosphere of every human is a ruling thought, a thought which dominates that part of the mental atmosphere which has to do with the present life. This thought came into existence at the end of the previous life. The cycles of all thoughts of a life run together at the time of death and from these thoughts the ruling thought of the next life is formed. It is this thought which is the destiny already decided as inclinations, and it manifests at various periods throughout the life. It colors much of the thinking in the present life and gives tone to the atmosphere. It causes eddies, whirls and currents in or modifies and calms the mental atmosphere of a human. It helps to determine the mental attitude or general outlook on life and so helps to determine the manner in which one views other people and the world.

Mental destiny for the present life is not a remote aspect of the mental atmosphere, it is not the outcome of thoughts that are in a remote zone. Mental destiny relates to that part of the atmosphere in which the thinker contacts the heart and lungs, and that part is usually that in which the ruling thought moves. It influences his thinking, it brings up subjects of thought, it leads him to a junction of time, condition and place where a part of a thought can be exteriorized as an act, an object or an event.

A man’s mental attitudes and mental sets are the ways in which the doer thinks on any subject and the way thinking deals with it. One’s mental attitude is his outlook on life. A mental attitude is the background for a mental set. His mental set is what a man has set himself to do. The mental set of a money maker is to turn specific things into dollars; in a similar way a painter or an inventor obeys his mental set in pursuing his work. A mental attitude is often determined by love, bigotry and similar sentiments.

One’s mental attitude and mental set toward any subject are a part of his mental destiny. They are brought about by his past thinking and by his past thoughts relating to his experiences and understanding. They nurse his moods and predispositions which are similar to the attitudes. They encourage thinking on subjects similar to themselves. They harbor and nourish thoughts of a nature similar to their own. They react on the mental atmosphere and largely make his disposition sour or sweet, grasping or generous, morbid or cheerful. They are a challenge to the people he meets.

By one’s mental attitude he affects his mental destiny directly; he precipitates or postpones events. His attitude summons thoughts of like nature and hastens their development towards exteriorization. His own thoughts as well as the thoughts of others with whom he comes in contact are so affected. Thus he may hasten the exteriorization of a thought and bring about an injury or a profit to himself at a time when it would not otherwise have occurred. In this way one’s mental attitude precipitates his own destiny, some of it long overdue, some not yet due. The precipitations are of two kinds, those which one recognizes as duties and those which befall one as events, expected or unexpected, pleasant or unpleasant.

A person has a certain leeway to bring out or hold off his own destiny. He does either by his mental attitude. An attitude of willingness to perform one’s duty will allow destiny to come in its natural order, without postponement or hastening. An attitude of unwillingness to do or suffer may delay destiny, though at length the disturbance caused thereby will result in such pressure by elemental entities that events will break through the resistance and rush in. An attitude of fear may precipitate destiny; it may anticipate and project what would otherwise not have happened then.

One’s mental attitude is not only an important part of his present mental destiny, but it is potent in making future mental destiny because it prepares for the conception or entertainment of thoughts. It is the condition in which they are conceived or gestated.

In the mental atmosphere is sense-knowledge, that is, the knowledge acquired by the body-mind from the mass of records brought in by the four senses. It is the systematized knowledge that constitutes the sciences, from physics and chemistry to theology and law. It is the materialistic knowledge of the one who possesses it and is tied up with the records of what is on the breath-form. What is impressed on the breath-form is of the present life only and is effaced after death when that form is broken up.

Sense memories on the breath-form are potent factors in mental destiny. They cause passive thinking which fills out so large a part of the life; they suggest many of the subjects of thinking which become thoughts and they are at once the foundation and the limits of the knowledge of the human. All the knowledge of all the sciences is sense-knowledge. From facts observed men arrive at conclusions, the reach of which is limited by the range of the senses and by the records on the breath-form. All this knowledge is in the mental atmosphere. Science and speculations about religion, about God and about the universe, are due to one’s mental condition which is his destiny.

This sense-knowledge the doer uses, is affected by it, is subject to it and is held down by it, but it is not and never can be a part of the doer. All that is saved for the doer’s knowledge are those results in the doer which are independent of the four senses. Therefore nearly all the results of an earth life are done away with. Only a small portion, namely, the abilities of the body-mind, is carried over in the mental atmosphere.

One who is merely well “educated” or merely proficient in a science or a trade may lose this advantage. The mental qualification for proficiency in intellectual achievements may be quite different in different lives, as different as the positions which the human beings of the doer hold in successive lives as to prominence or obscurity, comfort or trouble, wealth or poverty.

Nevertheless such sense-knowledge is an important factor in mental destiny. Efforts to think upon such knowledge may train the body-mind by exercising and disciplining it or by experimenting with and observing matter, and may be the cause of conceiving and entertaining many thoughts. The things which are retained as mental destiny are the kind of thinking at the end of the life, the effect the thinking on these subjects has produced in the mental atmosphere, and attitudes of mind which have been there created. This may be good or bad, depending on the moral tendencies developed which utilize the mental endowments.

Knowledge of the Triune Self is not available to the body-mind. The human cannot use the knowledge of the Triune Self, which is in reserve. Yet there are times when that knowledge becomes available, as when an action or an inaction has a moral aspect. Knowledge of the Triune Self then comes spontaneously through rightness and is known as conscience.

Conscience is not a part of the mental atmosphere, but when it does speak it speaks in the heart. Conscience represents the sum of knowledge as to what should not be done, acquired by the doer on any moral subject. It is a direct accusation. It is an injunction; it always forbids, never commands. It does not instruct; it does not argue. It speaks of questions of right or wrong action from a moral point of view only. Light of the Intelligence shows the way to the human and if he is about to go wrong by that Light, conscience forbids. Conscience stops either when it is dulled and overcome by desires or when the thought about which it warns is balanced or is dissipated.

The “No” of conscience is the sum of the doer’s knowledge as to what he should not do and is sufficient to guide one aright in any situation. There is a constant communication between the knower and rightness. The voice of conscience is not an audible voice; it is a voice to the doer, feeling-and-desire. It has a meaning of which the human is conscious.

Conscience makes the human responsible irrespective of the laws of the land. Many of the things which the laws allow are forbidden by conscience. Disobedience to the injunction makes the doer liable. Conscience, though it does not reside in the mental atmosphere but only appears there at the conception of a thought or when the individual is about to arrive at a conclusion, plays a part in the making of mental destiny. When conscience approves the thinking, it neither speaks nor is there any apprehension in the thinking or the feeling that accompanies it. By its presence and by not interfering with the thinking, conscience aids in producing mental advantages, like endowments, abilities and achievements. When conscience speaks, it forbids and warns against thinking in connection with the thing which it forbade, and this may cause confusion and disturbance, which are mental disadvantages.

Conscience puts its mark on a thought which it disapproves. This mark is the balancing factor and remains on and with the thought as long as the thought lasts. That thought is destiny; it contains the four kinds. The physical impression will become physical destiny. The reaction on the doer is psychic destiny. The results produced on its minds by the doer is mental destiny. The freeing of the Light by desire is noetic destiny.

In the mental atmosphere of human beings circulate not only their own thoughts, but also thoughts of others. Thoughts are as gregarious as are the human beings, their parents; they herd together. Solitary thoughts are the exception. Visiting thoughts are attracted to an atmosphere because in that atmosphere are thoughts that have a similar aim as the visiting thoughts. The visiting thoughts can come in because the thoughts inside having a similar aim, usually make an opening for them.

Thoughts are hindered from getting into an atmosphere when the attitudes of mind in it are unfriendly and opposed to that kind of thought, or when the person closes his atmosphere unconsciously by thinking secrecy around his own thought. The thought of one person goes into the atmosphere of another, instead of the other’s thought going into the atmosphere of the first, because the ingoing thought is the more active or seeks the other for reinforcement.

The visiting thought may take something from the other thought or it may impart something to it or there may be an exchange. The atmosphere from which comes the visiting as well as that of the visited thought is modified by the effect produced by the thoughts on each other.

The thought of a human when it visits the atmospheres of others comes back vitiated or improved, but the deterioration or improvement depends on the aim of the visiting thought. If the thought has an immoral aim it will seek like thoughts and will be further demoralized, and if it aims at something noble, the nobility will be furthered and accentuated. A human stands behind his thoughts, as nature does behind the units as elementals, and furnishes them with energy and Light. Though a man is not conscious of his thoughts, what they are and what they do, he is conscious of his thinking and that is what nourishes the thoughts of others which come to him. His thinking aims at the same aims as do these visiting thoughts. That is what makes him responsible for the deteriorization or improvement with which they go back.

These mental results are later seen as physical results in the actions in which various people engage together and in the events which befall them together as group destiny. Those who find themselves associated in physical things are persons whose thoughts have visited or crossed each other. So people meet to bargain and trade, to go on a fishing excursion, to form a club, to gamble or to commit a burglary. So artists, writers, physicians, party politicians, and religious workers come together in little groups and larger associations. So men come together in doing business, adventuring, warring, persecuting. Like as birds do, thoughts of a kind flock together.

Human beings are partly responsible for and share in the exteriorizations of other’s thoughts. Their thoughts are mixed with the thoughts and interests of others. Attachments, dislikes and interests entangle every one. In this way doers share parts of each other’s destiny. They are fellows in good and bad times, fellows in marriage, in families, in social, religious and political communities. The fellowship is evident when war, disease and famine devastate a country or when success in art and science elevate it.

In the mental atmosphere are the forms of outward nature, of animals, of trees, of plants and of elemental beings; not the things that inhabit the forms, but the forms only are there. These forms are expressions of types of thinking; the types are provided by Triune Selves who determine them according to the nature of the human beings who think on lines requiring such types for expression. These forms go into nature at any time when there is a demand for them to be filled out by desires and feelings.

The character of a mental atmosphere in its most general aspect is either honest or dishonest. When it is honest the thinking is honest; it then respects the morals of an affair as shown by rightness. Thinking recognizes facts as they exist and deals with them truthfully. It does not deny what exists and does not state what does not exist. It respects a truth. Truth itself, which is the pure Light of the Intelligence, is not seen but thinking nevertheless respects a truth in so far as it is revealed by the senses as to extraneous things, by feeling as to inner things, and by rightness as to the moral aspect of an affair.

Honesty in thinking is thinking about things as they are and dealing with them as one sees they should be dealt with. The source and test of honesty is what rightness shows to be morally fit or unfit in the mental conduct in question. The pure Light which rightness gets in the spark from selfness, and the diffused Light in the mental atmosphere, are enough to enlighten any man as to what is the truth for him and as to his responsibility for thinking honestly.

Honest thinking is normal in an honest mental atmosphere. The atmosphere aids this kind of thinking and the thinking strengthens the honest character of the atmosphere. Then when one finds himself in an unexpected situation with new problems, he is prepared to face them with honesty. Honest thinking and the consequent honest character of an atmosphere depend upon a desire, a desire for honesty. There can be no honest desire, because honesty is a mental, not a psychic virtue. The desire can be for honesty only. Without a desire for honesty there can be no honest thinking.

Desire does not control itself, it is controlled either by nature through the four senses or by rightness or by reason. At present it is controlled by nature which through desire gets its hold on the thinking of human beings. Desire is usually for comfort, possessions, luxury, laziness, not for the opposite conditions. As long as desire is inclined this way it will not be for rectitude. As nature acts it causes feelings and these stimulate desires; they start thinking regardless of honesty, often against the showings made by rightness. And some desires control other desires. Thus the thinking of people who are under the domination of nature is often dishonest.

If desire is not dominated by nature, but seeks to be controlled by rightness and by reason, seeks what these show to be right, it does not rush over rightness and reason to impel them to serve desire, and the thinking will act honestly. When desire wants rightness to correct it and reason to guide it, a great change occurs in the working of the doer in the human. Ordinarily nature affects feeling, that starts desire, that passes on the impression to rightness and, overriding it, impels reason which works to conform to feeling, and that satisfies desire. But when the change takes place and desire wants to be right, then feeling will not receive any impressions from nature which are not approved by rightness. Only feelings that are approved by rightness will start desire and desire will act directly on reason, which interacts with rightness, and that affects feeling. So the circuit is changed. Ordinarily it is from nature to feeling, to desire, to rightness, to reason, to feeling. But now the circuit is from feeling to desire, to reason, to rightness, to feeling, (Fig. IV-B). Nothing that is dishonest will be even felt.

From honesty in thinking come truthfulness, simplicity, sincerity, justice, rectitude. There comes a condition of the mental atmosphere in which virtues flourish and virtuous thoughts are conceived or entertained. These thoughts are then projected in speech and acts which show simplicity, sincerity and righteousness. When a man thinks such thoughts and intends such acts, he will not only so conduct himself, but there will come with such virtuous conduct, the qualities of fearlessness, calmness and strength. He will not even contemplate any act concerning which he could not speak truthfully and act with sincerity.

In this way once he has, by reason of the reversed circuit from rightness to feeling, the mental set towards thinking honestly, he will reinforce his virtues and lead a righteous life. His mental atmosphere will be honest. Troubles may swarm around and difficulties confront him, but whatever may come to pass, he will not be overwhelmed.

Dishonesty is not a negative quality; it is as positive and active as honesty. Dishonesty in thinking is thinking about things as they are not, and dealing with them in thought contrary to the way in which one sees, that is, in which rightness approves they should be dealt with. The test of what things are not is what rightness shows concerning them. Dishonest thinking is thinking against the way the thing is seen to be; it is thinking what is known to be false.

Dishonesty in thinking results from the demands of desire to satisfy feeling. Desire is neither honest nor dishonest. It wants what it wants. If it does not want expressly honest thinking, the thinking will be dishonest. If it does not want to be controlled by rightness, it will be controlled by nature and will override rightness and make thinking serve feeling.

Desire may be for dishonesty in thinking, but this is an unnatural thing. It then pits itself against all humanity to satisfy itself, not feeling, and leads to extreme wickedness. It sacrifices feeling and tries to kill it in order to be increased as desire and power. Such cases are sometimes found in the intense selfishness and corruption of the leaders of business, of party politics, of labor unions and of religious institutions. Such corruption is shown by the hard-hearted, from food engrossers down to little extortionists and blackmailers. In them desire tries to blot out rightness and substitute its own wants, so that it may not be interfered with. By thinking, in the accomplishment of its object, it realizes itself as a power. Many human beings working to this end are attracted to each other and combine in their efforts.

Dishonest thinking is at home in a dishonest atmosphere. By this kind of thinking the atmosphere is further prepared for the entertainment or conception of thoughts which are later exteriorized as lies, fraud, corruption and treachery, and their retribution.

A certain kind of dishonest thinking finds expression as lying. It is the kind of thinking that is directly intended to deceive either oneself or another. In order to deceive another successfully, the liar must in a measure deceive himself into seeing the falsehood he tells as true. Lying is a special kind of dishonest thinking. Generally dishonest thinking is thinking about things as they are not and dealing mentally with them in the way in which rightness says they should not be dealt with. Thinking a lie is the special dishonest thinking that is carried on deliberately to blot out, cover with a mask or lead away from what one knows to be true. Thinking a lie is a result and a climax of general dishonesty in thinking.

Thinking a lie disorders and upsets the mental atmosphere and perturbs thinking. This is so even with the little lies of daily life, like those uttered while one brags or boasts, or the unuttered lies of self-pity or self-conceit. They have an effect which reaches further than might be supposed. More serious is the result of lies spoken to slander, to make trouble between people, to defraud in commerce and trade, to deceive in politics to get votes, legislation and positions, or to stir up a revolt or a war. Thinking a lie tends to throw thoughts out of their orbits in the mental atmosphere, so that they may be interfered with in their exteriorizations. It tends to incapacitate the thinking from showing one a truth, from presenting in words even what one is capable of thinking, and from arriving at correct conclusions. From all this, stupidity or insanity may result. Insanity is often a physical result of lying. Lying prevents a human from knowing things as they are and so delays or defeats the education of the doer. It is the chief factor that prevents happiness.

Thinking a lie causes a sound as does the thinking of any thought. But that sound jars and shocks the worlds, and in them the thoughts of whatever has been taken to be true. A lying thought soars and rolls in the mental atmosphere and then passes into the life world and affects and shakes up that world and the life planes of the other worlds, and the mental atmospheres of other people to whom it might be related. There it spreads the contagion of falsehood and confusion. In the worlds the reverberation of that lie booms on and every boom tolls out the name of the liar. This is so even before the lie is spoken or written; the thought produces this effect.

The doer to make progress must see its path through the world and must see things as they are. So only does one gain knowledge of the conscious self in the body, that is, accomplishments in the noetic atmosphere through thinking: to know what to do, and what not to do. By self-deception— and deceiving another involves self-deception—the doer loses its powers of discrimination and becomes unable to tell the true from the false, the right from the wrong, the existent from the nonexistent. So the purpose of its mundane experiences is frustrated. When the lying thoughts are exteriorized, the outer life becomes a fabric of lies and deceptions. So a liar is forced into troubles and hardship, while some of his lies appear also as diseases of his body. To these physical ills is added the mental confusion and blindness which is the mental destiny of a liar. That mental state sometimes deprives a liar of the faith and confidence that guide human beings through adversity.

The mental atmosphere of a man is not only honest or dishonest, but may at the same time be clear or confused, light or cloudy, active or inactive, well or poorly endowed, and it shows to which of the four classes he belongs, according to the amount, quality and aim of his thinking.

A man’s thinking is done within limits set or allowed by his mental atmosphere and these have been created by his former thinking. If that was honest, if he thought about things as they were perceived to be true, if his thinking was straight and fair, not devious and deceitful, the diffused Light will now be more easily focused and will be more plentiful, will show more truly that which he thinks about, will facilitate his thinking, will remove the fog, and obstacles in the mental atmosphere and transform its character so that it will be clearer, lighter, more active and better endowed. Then his present thinking goes on within wider limits and with greater clarity, activity, directness and success in discerning the truth about things. His former thinking made his present mental atmosphere and that conditions his present thinking.

In every case thinking is the outcome of desire for the thinking. The desire is as a rule not for honest thinking, and therefore people who see things as they are, are rare. The kind of thinking that is done by the run of human beings shows what their desire has been. Their desire was not for honesty in thinking, not to see things as they were, not to act as honest thinking would have shown them how to act, but to reach to and possess the things which now are still their objects in life.