The Phenomena of Thought
Thought is unquestionably man’s greatest resource for accomplishment and personal development. It has been the subject of creativity, exploitation, and controversy for as far back as we know. Psychologists and neuroscientists can only hypothesize the process of thought, making it the playground for psuedoscientists, spiritual leaders, and philosophers everywhere.
In psychology, one of the most controversial aspects of the mind is the idea of the unconscious mind. As a mental process unaware to us, and without a ground of wide-spread agreement among cognitive scientists, the unconscious mind becomes the source of personal mysticism and the very boundless foundation to the man of wonder. With this, history has given us many ambitious intellectuals, ranging from classical philosophers to the most provocative thinkers of our own time.
Whether the unconscious mind is the mother that gives birth to the ideas of the great men we are about to explore or not is a dispute the reader will have to come to conclude on their own.
Let us begin at Britain in 1875 and burrow into the mind and accomplishments of the most unique of all modern eccentric thinkers.
Voted one of Britain’s top 100 greatest men, Aleister “The Beast” Crowley brings us one of the most compelling exploitations of thought in recent history. As an occultist, ceremonial magician, poet, painter, novelist, mountaineer, Crowley founded the religion and philosophy of Thelema — fathering hundreds of students and devotees then and to this day after death.
Through many esoteric exhibitions and explorations in tomes and mysticisms of several pantheons, Crowley became a self-proclaimed prophet of a new aeon upon visiting Egypt and evoking a being called Aiwass. He was told he was to teach man to live in tune with his will. Writing and publishing The Book of the Law, Crowley developed Thelema, declaring the laws which Aiwass bequeathed to him that were to help man master the art of change by his own will.
“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law; love is the law, love under will.”
The famous quote, law, and structure of his thinking; Crowley sanctified will, coined the word “magick,” and revived occultism in the west through a perversion of psychology and mysticism.
“Magick is the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will.” — Aleister Crowley
Crowley saw the capability of the mind as infinite, liberally including methods and systems such as yoga and meditation to his own ideas. He accounts for monetary gain, charming people, and learning secret knowledge by esoteric methods of psychology.
Despite the strange notions of mystical beings and control of change, such systems of thought are nothing unique to recent history. For in 1937, presidential advisor Napoleon Hill reintroduces the great craft of thought to a mass in great need.
As a result of the Great Depression, man was desperate for financial and spiritual revival. Napoleon Hill, having gone through a spiritual awakening by family hardship, capitalized on such a delicate moment in history and wrote Think and Grow Rich in 1937 — making him a hero of capitalist and American spirit among many of his admirers. Hill’s ideas gave birth to the success of many great thinkers and historical figures such as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. Think and Grow Rich is still widely sold and referenced by many of today’s most successful people around the world.
“Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything.” — Napoleon Hill
Through an esoteric introduction, Hill lets the reader know there is a secret within the contents and methods of the book that will become clear as one reads, studies, and applies the knowledge confined therein. This is massively occult by the standards of today’s occultists. One does not think this right away, because Hill brilliantly introduces questionable ideas through a noble enterprise, saying one can gain what he desires so long as it benefits the entirety of man.
“You can be anything you want to be, if only you believe with sufficient conviction and act in accordance with your faith; for whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.” — Napoleon Hill
His method was simple: write down your desire, give a time frame, explain what you are willing to give, and repeat this written desire before bed and in the morning a couple times until you memorize it. This is what is known today as affirmation.
“Any ideas, plan, or purpose may be placed in the mind through repetition of thought.” — Napoleon Hill
Affirmation can be traced to the success of many famous people, from Canadian actor Jim Carry to American cartoonist Scott Adams. Some of the most unlikeliest people can be found paying tribute to affirmation while many others do so reluctantly. This is due to affirmation’s controversial personality and ties to New Age thought.
Many psychological explanations are given such as biased memory, self-fulfilling prophecy, and coincidence. But should such questions arise given the inherit success? And do these explanations, though disenchanting, change its outcome?
In a world of rising Epicureanism and rational thought, there is no surprise that one is branded with ridicule if ever considering affirmation anything but pseudoscience of wishful thinking. As a result, the success of its methods are buried by reluctance and fear of escaping the safety of rational thinking.
“The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thought.” — Marcus Aurelius
Exactly how “new” is this new-thought? Think of how long barbarism lasted in the face of ancient civilization. Sacrifice, prayer, and many other practices lasted centuries and onto the rise and fall of civilizations. Such practices carry the same motive of using thought through desire, will, and belief to cause change — whether it be for personal gain or survival.
Man using thought for gain and change has been known since Adam and Eve and the apple of the tree of knowledge — since the tribes of antiquity who sought refuge from destruction in sacrifice and ritual. Is it exploitation or survival instinct? Rational thinkers could not possibly attribute this ritual use of thought to the avoidance of disastrous weather, famine, and disease, though through centuries of mental cultivation and prosperity, human beings did.
"The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable." — Carl Jung
Thought is easily confined to the utility, survival, and spirit of man. Though one can say that the more and more capable human intellect gets, the less meaningful the mystical notions become. This is a huge problem that arises with the psychology of religion itself.
Swiss psychologist Carl Jung voices concern for the spiritual individual in Psychology and Alchemy by stating that understanding spiritual processes through psychology does not destroy its meaning, but in fact, exhalts it. Through the craft of thought, we are given the revival of magic, the revival of a country, and the exaltation of a spirituality so lost to us that exploring aspects of it in the mind makes one a martyr of foundation and rational thought.
We cannot escape our greatest survival instinct. As rational as we may become, the vicious nature of the world drags us by the feet to return to the spirit and forgotten abode of mind. Whether it is writing desire on paper or kneeling before the altar at church, or even burning incense in spiritual evokation, man never fails to utilize his greatest resource: the cause of change through exploitation of thought.
“Imagination is not fanciful daydreaming; it is fire from heaven.” — Ernest Holmes
Desire and will— grind these down to the finest powder and what you have left is a single thought. Consider the price of thought: free at the expense of only seconds. Effortless and economical, thought is the most powerful resource harnessable to man.
What is done with thought is a man’s greatest craft. A thought is as aimless as it is priceless; through proper transmutation of thought, a budding flower of vision can blossom from imagination into will.
With will as the wrath of imagination , as the beacon that lights the path of meaninglessness, and with everything in a state of decay, it is man’s will to power which mends the howls of ruination into a symphony sweet and unique to his own making.
Reality is a marble boundless, barren, and beloved unto the sculptor. Through desire and belief, thought and will become the hammer and chisel for every man cultivating his purpose.
“What is most thought-provoking in these thought-provoking times, is that we are still not thinking.” — Martin Heidegger