The Word Foundation


Harold W. Percival



Section 6

Responsibility and duty. Sense-learning and sense-knowledge. Doer-learning and doer-knowledge. Intuition.

A man’s mental atmosphere, if it could be seen, would show what he is responsible for. Of some, but not of all, of this responsibility he may be conscious.

He is responsible for his honest and for his dishonest thinking, for his good acts and for his evil acts, for his characteristics favorable or unfavorable, for his desires and for his feelings, for what he does with what he has and with what happens to him. He is responsible for the subjective mental and psychic and for the objective physical conditions which he is making. He is also responsible for the thinking he does around and about the thoughts of others.

He is aware of what he thinks and does in the present life and is therefore conscious of the responsibility that attaches to this thinking and acting. He is not aware of his previous lives and is therefore not conscious that his responsibility for his previous thinking and doing accounts for most of the conditions of his present life.

He is not conscious of, but nevertheless responsible for, the conditions in his mental atmosphere. Mere ignorance does not free him from the responsibility which he engendered in the past, else he would never learn to free himself from that past and get Self-knowledge, that is knowledge of the Triune Self. There is no responsibility for the thinking that is done without attachment to the results. The responsible one is the present human. What happens to a human in one life is an exact retribution or reward for what the same portion of the doer had done in a prior life. Each of the twelve portions of the doer must continue its re-existences as long as its responsibility is not discharged.

A human is responsible to his thinker and knower and to his great Intelligence, and through that to the Supreme Intelligence. He is not responsible to any outside God. He is made responsible by the law of thought, which is an expression in the earth sphere of universal justice.

The center of responsibility is in the mental atmosphere. It is produced there from the knowledge one has on the subject of which he thinks. The knowledge itself is in the noetic atmosphere and a flash of it comes into the mental atmosphere through rightness when morals are involved. Rightness makes the human conscious of his responsibility, and thinking can work it out. Responsibility is there always, calling ever for doing a duty by acting or omitting to act. Responsibility is with the human when he rises in the morning, when he performs the ordinary duties of the day and when he acts in a crisis. His responsibility is lessened by his incapacity to receive messages from conscience. This failure comes from insufficient knowledge on the subject of thinking. His responsibility is increased by ability to understand, due to knowledge sent from the noetic atmosphere as conscience.

There is a distinction between the responsibility for thinking and the responsibility for thoughts. A train of thinking may go on for a considerable time without showing any resulting acts. Yet during that time a record of the thinking is made in the mental atmosphere and on the breath-form; it may affect feeling-and-desire; and it may affect bodily organs and the units in the body, stimulating them to health or disease; the thinking may affect other human beings thinking on similar lines, or it may affect directly the people thought about, and yet such thinking may be insufficient to cause the thinker to create a thought. To all of this thinking some responsibility attaches, but no balancing of a thought is yet necessary. The thinking carries its responsibility at once and the human must answer, without a balancing factor being involved. Usually the sum of the accumulated thinking is taken up by the one who thinks and causes him to create a thought. The thought always contains a balancing factor. Until then the thinking can be changed or cancelled, though the thinker remains responsible for such thinking as has been done.

When the accumulations are of such a nature as to cause the thinker to issue a thought, the balancing factor is based on the responsibility which he had at the conception of the thought, and will compel a balance in accordance with it. The thoughts issued during a lifetime and thoughts previously issued which have to do with the present life come back to the human who is their parent, to be by him nourished, entertained, reinforced. He is responsible for their support and must continue to support them or else balance them. He must support them with his desire and with Light from his mental atmosphere. He does this when he thinks about them or around them.

The good and the evil thinking that men have done remains with them, in the mental atmosphere, until it is removed by thinking. The good can be removed by thinking evil in the place of it, and the evil by thinking good in its place. The acts, good or bad, that men have done do not remain; what remains is the thinking of them. That stays in the mental atmosphere. There it energizes and nourishes the thought that was exteriorized as the act, or it nourishes other similar thoughts and there the thinking may be the means of balancing the thought.

There is an immense amount of debit and credit to the account of each doer, in its mental atmosphere. The doers now in bodies have awaiting them there many of the good and the bad things which they long for, despise or dread. They may have waiting for them accomplishments which are now wished for, but which may not be developed in this life. Dullness of intellect or powers far beyond their present attainments may be in store. Intellectual development may be prevented by poverty, cares or ill health. All these things may be quite foreign to one’s present outlook, possessions or limitations, but they together with worldly position and prosperity will come home in time. In the course of about a dozen lives a doer travels from obscurity to rank, from lowness and want to prominence and wealth, from simplemindedness to intellectual power or back. Consciously or unconsciously, man determines that part of his destiny which he will suffer or enjoy, work out or postpone. Though he knows not how he does it, yet, by his mental attitudes towards himself and towards others, he calls into the present from the great storehouse of his mental atmosphere the endowments and qualities which he has.

An attitude of readiness to recognize responsibility and to meet obligations and to restrict the indulgence of desires, will allow his thinking to be guided by rightness, to focus the diffused Light more steadily and to build more successfully. In this way he develops mental excellence, which is at death stored in the mental atmosphere as an endowment, and will thence appear as such in a future life. Responsibility, the capacity to know right from wrong, determines and is the measure of duty, be the duty physical, psychic or mental. As a rule duties are connected with physical acts or events and every man knows what he should or should not do in a given situation. A man need never be in doubt about his duty. The only duty he should do is that of the moment. Conscience through rightness shows him what not to do, reason shows him what to do. In both cases his thinking will confirm this inner voice, if he will listen to it and not to the onrushing desires.

Duty is the one thing a man has to go by. It opens out from the exteriorization of a thought. He can always know the duty of the moment, and if he does that duty willingly he either balances or prepares for balancing the thought of which that duty is an exteriorization. A duty shows what is necessary to balance a thought or to work towards a balance. Most of the thinking that men do is concerned with physical acts, objects or events; a large part of it relates to their duties. Hence come experiences. Feeling anything is an experience. The feeling compels desire to stimulate and start thinking on the subject of the feeling. If the feeling is strong enough it will bring out a coordinated and searching course of thinking. Thereby doer-learning is extracted from the experience, and this learning may lead to self-knowledge.

There are two kinds of learning and two kinds of knowledge. There is sense-learning from the senses concerning nature, and doer-learning from the experiences of the doer concerning the doer; and there are two kinds of knowledge, the sense-knowledge which thinking has developed from sense-learning, and the self-knowledge, or knowledge of the conscious self in the body, which thinking has developed from doer-learning.

An event felt is either outside and is brought through the senses to feeling, or it is inside the human and wells up in the doer, feeling-and-desire, where it is felt as sorrow, fear, warning, joy, hope, confidence or similar states. From these two classes of events thinking gives information and makes a record of it in the mental atmosphere.

The record of the experiences is made up of nature-matter and intelligent-matter. The nature-matter is brought in by the senses, the intelligent-matter is part of the doer. After death that part of the record which was made of nature-matter disappears with the dissipation of the breath-form, whereas the intelligent-matter remains in the mental atmosphere. During life while the information or record is on the breath-form, it is only memory of experiences.

Learning, both sense-learning and doer-learning, is the sum, the mass of all records. The single records have disappeared into the general mass of learning.

The record kept on the breath-form is the memory of the particular experience. The extract made from the experience goes into the mental atmosphere to blend with the mass of other extracts of experiences which is learning. When the learning is readily available, the individual records of experiences usually disappear. Thus, while the multiplication table is being learned, individual records are kept as memories on the breath-form, such as three times four make twelve, but when from the repetition of this statement has been extracted enough to be called sense-learning, the memory of the individual experience is forgotten and one is able to say three times four make twelve, without having to confirm the statement.

Learning is not knowledge. From sense-learning comes sense-knowledge for the human, from doer-learning comes self-knowledge for the doer. Knowledge of both kinds results from thinking on what has been learned. It does not come from a thought or from thoughts, it is acquired by thinking.

It is a common thing to extract sense-learning from experiences, children and distinguished scientists do it. It is one set of functions which the body-mind executes. Occasionally it has another set of functions. It makes efforts to free Light from interfering matter and to turn it and to focus it on and into the subject of the thinking. This is a process of digestion or assimilation, so as to get an extract from what has been learned. It is thinking of what has been learned and leads to sense-knowledge, that is, knowledge of the actions of matter. Thus the generalizations are made which are called laws. Sense-knowledge is and remains in the mental atmosphere during life, and after death is lost when the breath-form is dissolved. But there remains from sense-learning and sense-knowledge the discipline of at most the body-mind. Inclinations, aptitudes and abilities are all that is brought over from the education and attainments in one life. Sometimes these are so marked that the person having them is called a genius.

On the other hand, doer-learning and self-knowledge are acquired by the doer, and are carried over after death. They are chiefly reactions to acts, objects and events, experienced by the doer. Feeling causes desire to start thinking on the feelings produced, and a record is made by the body-mind, the feeling-mind and the desire-mind, similar to that of sense-learning which is made by the body-mind alone. The store of doer-learning is thus increased. Doer-learning is the mass of extracts which the feeling-mind and the desire-mind have made from experiences of acts, objects and events, and of their causes and avoidances. Doer-learning is largely, not exclusively, of morals, and is carried over after death. What little of nature-matter there is in the record disappears after death, but the intelligent-matter in it remains in the mental atmosphere and is sufficient to connect it with the moral aspect of what is right concerning the act, object or event. Therefore, in the next or some future life the human brings with him an understanding, which is the total of the doer-learning. By this understanding the doer avoids what would bring about experiences concerning which it has a sufficient store of learning.

From the mass of doer-learning which is in the mental atmosphere of the human, thinking may extract self-knowledge for the doer. When the desire for such knowledge is strong enough in the human, thinking on the store of doer-learning is compelled. The feeling-mind and the desire-mind make efforts to get Light free from interfering matter and to focus it on and into the subject of the thinking. When the Light is focused and is held steadily, everything disappears except the subject of thinking. Everything about this is present and is known in that Light, and is transferred by the thinking into the noetic atmosphere of the human, where it is knowledge of the conscious self in the body, available to the doer. It is then not necessary to go through the processes of that thinking again; the purpose of that thinking is attained. It becomes necessary to think about the knowledge only when it is to be applied or is to be conveyed to others. If it was acquired in the present life it is available to the human. If it was acquired in a former life it is usually not available, except on moral questions. Then it speaks spontaneously, appearing as the voice of conscience which is expressed through rightness. Conscience is negative and is always present.

The human acquires sense-knowledge through the body-mind, and this knowledge is lost to the doer portion when it lives again, though aptitude and inclination may become endowments. The doer-in-the-human can acquire self-knowledge by the use of the feeling-mind and desire-mind if available to it. Such knowledge is not lost, but remains in the noetic atmosphere of the human when the doer lives again, and is available to it by thinking, as memory of the doer. Such knowledge is acquired by the doer, it does not come from the knower. However, the doer may receive Self-knowledge from the knower, by which it may at once know all that the doer can laboriously acquire from the experiences of its human being and its thinking. This is intuition which comes through reason. It is positive and is exceedingly rare, but when it comes it is direct knowledge on any subject in question. It is not concerned with business or with things of the senses, but relates to problems of the doer. If, however, one opens communication with the knower, it is available on any subject. That knowledge of the knower comprises everything. It is a composite of everything that has been, resolved into the Triune Self. The knower as selfness is knowledge, while as I-ness it is the identity of that knowledge, and these are the knower.

Knowledge of the Triune Self, that is, Self-knowledge, is the sum of all knowledge. It is shared by all knowers, since they have a common part called the noetic world. That knowledge is to be distinguished from the doer-knowledge which is acquired by the human through its thinking and which is stored in the noetic atmosphere of the human, (Fig. V-B).

There is nothing new. As a unit, the aia has been through everything in nature; when it is translated and becomes a Triune Self it does not, so to say, speak the nature language any more, but has the composite experience and learning, now as knowledge of all.

All changes and combinations of matter and forces, have been made over and over again and again. They are innumerable, apparently, and yet they are limited like the moves on a chess-board. Human beings go over some of them as new in every fresh civilization. All thinking makes destiny. Noetic destiny for the doer is that part of a thought which is Light and is returned to the noetic atmosphere when the thought is balanced by thinking, and so is transmuted into self-knowledge for the doer. Thoughts circling in the mental atmosphere of the human are mental destiny. When one of them is balanced this results in self-knowledge in the mental atmosphere of the doer portion when it next re-exists and is mental destiny for its human being.

Psychic destiny is the desire part of the thought. Even while in a thought and so in the mental atmosphere, the desire part of a thought affects the psychic atmosphere and produces there states of joy and sorrow. When a thought is exteriorized the act, object or event produces experiences of pleasure and pain and joy and sorrow, and increases or decreases psychic tendencies in the psychic atmosphere, as to gloom or cheer, fearfulness or confidence.

Physical destiny is that part of a thought which is exteriorized as an act, an object or an event. Physical destiny which is presented by the visible conditions in which a human lives is often considered the only kind of destiny.

The mental destiny, which is the general character of the mental atmosphere with its endowments and attitudes and the ability to use the three minds, is not transmuted into noetic, psychic and physical destiny; it remains mental destiny. A transmutation of mental destiny into the other three kinds takes place when the mental destiny has matured into a thought.

The thought as a whole is mental destiny and in it the aim remains mental destiny; the design in it is psychic destiny; the exteriorizations are physical destiny as acts, objects or events; and the Light is noetic destiny. A thought is the means by which the distribution is made. All four kinds of destiny come out of a thought. The raw material goes into the thought, is made into an entity as a thought, and then it affects the sources and regions from which the material was taken and is the chief means by which thinking changes matter into higher degrees of being conscious.

Every thing on the physical plane is the exteriorization of a thought. The physical conditions of life, like health and disease, wealth and poverty, high or low rank, race and language, are exteriorizations of thoughts. One’s psychic nature with little, dull or tender feeling, feeble or strong desires, the temperament or inclinations, is the result of thoughts. Moral qualities and mental endowments, inclinations to study and learn, to loose or clear thinking, mental defects and gifts, come from thinking.

People accept possessions, good fortune and mental endowments as a matter of course, but complain of impediments and trouble. However, all these things are exteriorizations and interiorizations of their thoughts, and come as lessons to teach them what to think and what not to think.

The great lesson to be learned is to think without creating thoughts, destiny, that is, not to be attached to the objects about which one thinks. Man does not do this, so he creates thoughts and will continue to create them until he learns to think without creating thoughts. Such thinking is real thinking. It can be done only when desire is controlled and trained. No mad desires will then affect the mental atmosphere; only controlled desires will act upon it. The obscurations and obstacles in the mental atmosphere will be eliminated, there will be more and clearer Light, thinking will be more true. This goal, which is reached by individuals, not by the race as a whole, is far distant. In the meantime human beings create thoughts and these are exteriorized.

An exteriorization is that part of a thought which was physical, was taken from the physical plane and returns to it as an act, object or event. It appears there when the thought in the course of its circling intersects the course of at least one other thought, at the juncture of time, condition and place. It is exteriorized through the four systems of the body, in a moment or in many years.

If at that exteriorization the thought is not balanced, the human may not be conscious that any of the many other exteriorizations are the result of the same thought. Another exteriorization is brought about when the course of the thought intersects the course of another thought, either of the same or of another person. If the second thought is one of his own thoughts, he may be conscious that he exteriorized the second thought, but he will not be conscious that that exteriorized the first thought; likewise, if another person’s thought brought about the exteriorization of the first thought, he will not be conscious of this fact. Therefore, a human is not conscious that the acts, objects and events of his life are exteriorizations of his own thoughts.

Human beings aid or hinder the exteriorizations of their thoughts by their mental attitude, by their willingness or unwillingness to meet conditions of life as they find them or have made them and to perform the duties of the present. One’s thoughts teach him, or should teach him, to learn the lesson of life, which is to get knowledge of himself and to think and act as the Light of the Intelligence shows. Man is constantly chasing objects of nature. As he possesses them they cause reactions in his feeling-and-desire which should teach him, but usually fail to teach him, the lesson that he can find outside nothing that will satisfy him. All the sense-learning, all the sense-knowledge which the doer-in-the-body can acquire, is of nature and cannot satisfy it. Unless the human is conscious of the doer within his body he will be carried away and be overwhelmed by sense-knowledge and will forget and even deny that he is not the body. The experiences of life constantly throw the human back on himself so that he may learn of himself as the doer.

Opportunity to educate himself so as to be conscious of himself as something more than a human is constantly before him. His duties, however humble or insignificant they may be, present the opportunity, and honesty in thinking is the means of using it.

Such is an outline of mental destiny, as the character of the mental atmosphere, that is made by thinking and that conditions further thinking. The mental atmosphere is a term here used for that small part of it which is represented in one’s present life and in which the thoughts affecting the present life circulate.