The Influence of Thought

From the teachings of Swami Sivananda Saraswati

While light travels at the rate of 186,000 miles per second, thought travels in virtually no time at all. The velocity of thought is unimaginable. It is finer than ether, the medium of electricity. The mind is like a wireless set. A saint with peace, poise, harmony and spiritual vibrations sends out thoughts of harmony and peace. They travel with lightning speed in all directions, enter the minds of people everywhere and produce similar thoughts. On the other hand, a person whose mind is full of jealousy, revenge and hatred sends out discordant thoughts, which enter the minds of thousands and stir in them similar thoughts.

If you throw a stone into water, it produces a succession of concentric waves which travel outwards from the point of disturbance. In the same manner, when a thought, whether good or evil, crosses a person’s mind, it gives rise to vibrations in the manas or mental atmosphere, which travel far and wide in all directions.

Thoughts as forces need a special kind of subtle matter as a medium for their movement. What is the medium through which thoughts travel from one mind to another? The best possible explanation is that manas or the mind substance fills all space like ether, and it serves as a vehicle for thoughts, just as prana is the vehicle for feelings, ether for heat, light and electricity, and air the vehicle for sound.

You can move the world through thought-force. Thought has great power. It can be transmitted from one person to another. The powerful thoughts of great sages and rishis of yore are still recorded in the ether (akashic records). Yogis who have clairvoyant vision can perceive and read these thought images. You are surrounded by an ocean of thought. You are floating in the ocean of thought. You are absorbing certain thoughts and repelling others in the thought world.

A thought is as solid as a block of stone. We may cease to be, but our thoughts never die. Thought is focused and given a particular direction. In the degree that it is focused, it is effective in the work it is directed to accomplish. The stronger the thought, the earlier the fructification. Every change of thought is accompanied by a subsequent change in manas.

Thought is a subtle force. This force is supplied to us by food. If the food is pure, then thought also becomes pure. One who has pure thoughts speaks forcefully and produces a deep impression in the minds of the listeners. He influences thousands of people through his pure thoughts. A pure thought is sharper than the edge of a blade. Those who harbour negative thoughts cause unrest and ill-will among people. Their thoughts are like wireless messages floating in ether, and are received by those whose minds respond to such vibrations. Thoughts move with tremendous velocity. Those who entertain sublime thoughts help others nearby or far away.

Power of thought

Thought has tremendous power. It is a dynamic force caused by the vibration of psychic prana on the mental substance. It is a force like gravitation, cohesion or repulsion. It travels or moves. Thoughts can heal diseases. They can transform the mentality of people. They can work wonders. Constructive thought transforms and builds.

What is this world after all? It is nothing but the materialization of the thought forms of God. Just as you have waves of heat and electricity in science, similarly there are thought waves in yoga. They have tremendous power. Everyone is unconsciously influenced by them to a greater or lesser degree. Great yogis like Jnana Dev, Bhartrihari and Patanjali used to send and receive messages through telepathy and thought transference. Telepathy was the first telegraph, radio and phone service ever known to the world.

Every thought that you send out is a vibration which never perishes. It goes on vibrating every particle of the universe. If your thoughts are noble, holy and forceful, they set every sympathetic mind vibrating in the same way. People who are like yourself unconsciously receive the thoughts that you have projected and, according to their capacity, send out similar thoughts. The result is that even without you knowing the consequence of your thought, you set in motion great forces which work together and destroy the numerous mean thoughts generated by selfish and negative people.

Primal thought

The far-reaching possibilities of thought power were accurately determined by the ancients and put to the highest possible use. Thought is the primal force in the origin of all creation. The genesis of the entire phenomenal creation lies in a single thought that arose in the cosmic mind. The world is the primal idea made manifest. This first thought manifested itself as a vibration issuing from the eternal stillness of the divine essence. This is the reference in classical terminology to iccha, the desire of the cosmic soul, that manifested as a spandan or vibration.

Thought controls your life, moulds your character and shapes your destiny. Note how one thought expands into many within a short time. Suppose you decide to have a tea party with your friends. The thought of tea instantaneously gives rise to thoughts of sugar, milk, tea cups, tables, chairs, tablecloths, napkins, spoons, cakes and biscuits. The expansion of thought towards objects is bondage; its renunciation is liberation. You must be very careful to nip thoughts in the bud. Only then will you be really happy. The mind plays tricks. You must understand its nature, ways and habits. Then you can control it easily.

Careful reflection will show that the entire universe is in reality the projection of the human mind. Purification and control of the mind is the central aim of yoga. The mind in itself is but a record of impressions that keep manifesting ceaselessly as impulses and thoughts. The mind is what it thinks. Thought impels you to action; activity creates fresh impressions in the mind stuff. Yoga strikes at the very root of this vicious circle by a method which effectively inhibits the functions of the mind – the thought process. When thought is transcended, intuition functions and self-knowledge supervenes.

The mind is the root cause of the tree of worldly existence. If you annihilate thoughts as soon as they arise in the mind, the roots will dry up, causing the tree of worldly existence to wither and die. This requires considerable perseverance and patience. You will be bathed in the ocean of bliss when all thoughts are destroyed completely. This state is indescribable. You have to feel it for yourself.