The Word Foundation


Harold W. Percival



Section 14

This is an age of thought. Schools of thought.

The present is a new wave in the Fourth Civilization. The crest should carry humanity higher than any of the former waves of this Civilization, which has existed for untold years and has seen the rise and fall of many such waves. Each of these waves has lifted and buried continents and nations. During some of these cycles humanity reached an incomparably higher material development than it has now, but it was unable to hold what it had achieved. Power, luxury, sensuality and dishonesty perverted thinking and so caused humanity to lose what it had. The doers who brought about the downfalls have had to pay dearly for them and most of them will continue the paying.

The last great cycle began in the East, rose to its height in early Atlantis and ended in the West, far out in the Pacific. Chinese, Indian, Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Mediterranean civilizations, as well as those in South, Central and North America, are as ripples on that wave.

A new vast cyclic wave has set in in the West. It began in Massachusetts with the Plymouth colony. In America a new race will be founded. What its type will be cannot yet be discerned. So far the history of the people who have lived there has been far from ideal. Their individual conduct, with comparatively few exceptions, has not differed much from that of people elsewhere, except in so far as pioneer conditions, a rich virgin country, and, since 1776, the form of government, a republic, have given more freedom and opportunity for lawlessness. Still, the promise of a great future is there. Many of the old doers that took part in building prior periods of achievement are coming in. In North America there is such an appearance of inventive genius as is shown nowhere else, a readiness to turn hand and brain to anything, and an occasional idealism; and in the United States have sprung up new schools of thought, which thence have spread over the world.

This is an age of thought. Each century has had its thinkers, but the world is entering upon a period in which thinking and thoughts will be recognized. Their reality, their nature and their power over matter will be more and more appreciated. This new era has changed the conditions for insight, growth and mental development. The limitations of thinking, the types under which it is done, the grooves in which it runs, and its results will be perceived. This will be the season for the appearance of new mental activities. Religions used to be emotional and tolerated no thinking about their doctrines, unless it was done by their own theologists; but now new cults, having a little to do with thinking, are finding followers. Gradually religions will become more mental and reasonable, as doers become more concerned with thought.

The life world is the realm of thinking, that is, of the thinking that is done definitely. Passive thinking is not in the life world but on the life and form planes of the physical world. When one gets into the life world by his thinking he will be on a road and will be obliged to follow it. That road has been made by thinkers in the past. To strike out on a new road one must be an independent thinker, that is, have originality and the bearings in himself to take him to the goal of his thinking, together with the determination to get there. There have been only a few such thinkers; they have made the roads on which the thinking of others follows.

From the number of books written on philosophies, religions, arts and sciences, it might seem that if books were the representatives of thoughts the life world must be filled with roads. However, this is not so. Human thought usually goes only to the life plane of the physical world. There are highways and beaten roads, as well as paths where here and there some independent thinker has made a trail. As the paths are traveled they become more distinct and extended. When an independent thinker attempts a system of thinking and puts his thoughts into words, his trail becomes a road and can be traveled at any time by him or by other thinkers who are able to follow. At times some thinker tries to think into the unknown regions on either side of the road, but the effort is too great; he becomes confused and is glad to get back to the beaten track, if possible. As long as these main traveled roads are followed men think over the same routine thoughts.

With the incoming of the new cycle many new schools of thought have begun to flourish. Among the multitude of modern movements are Modern Mysticism, Nature Worship, Spiritism, Christian Science, the Eastern Movement, Hypnotism, Self-suggestion, Pranayama, and Theosophy. Each of these is old in its essential teaching and is an old road, but is new in its presentation as a modern school. Each has its good and its bad aspects; in some the good predominates, in some the evil. The coming in sight of these movements is the mental result of the past and the destiny of the present; the manner in which they are received will be a large factor in determining the mental destiny of the coming race. If the wrong in any of these movements is sanctioned and carried into the future, it will be there exteriorized; if these movements are condemned and not accepted when found wrong, many possible difficulties of the approaching age will be removed.