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The Imaging Faculty

The limitations of mind may be more clearly defined than is generally supposed. Mind is an outgrowth of the soul, as the body is an outgrowth of mind. Mind is that aspect of being that relates man to the world of form. In every phase of action it deals with form; so that every thought conceived by man images itself in his mind.

Chief, then, among all the mental faculties is this power to image; and it may truly be said that every thought we think contains within itself a picture, and, further, that these thought-pictures affect the body either for health and strength, or for sickness and disease.

We are acted upon in two ways—by the force of life within and by the forms of life without; hence it may be said that man lives in two worlds. Besides the material consciousness of life, there is also a spiritual consciousness. There is something within man which transcends his sense nature, and even his intellectual and reasoning powers—something that reaches far deeper into the inner consciousness of life, which we might denominate the intuitive (spiritual) nature. It was to that “something” that the Apostle Paul referred when he said: “For the word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb. iv. 12.) This is the word of God that is trying to make itself felt in the lives of men—the Word that became fully manifested in the life of Jesus the Christ.

As man listens to the voice of the Higher coming from this inner consciousness of life, he has a sense of being related to everything. This inner feeling makes him desirous of doing good to all; it has the effect of causing him to see things in their true relations, so that his mind becomes filled with the harmonics of life; and, in turn, the thoughts pictured in mind produce harmony and strength of body. ‘

The abstract qualities of faith, hope, and love, while unpicturable in and of themselves, have yet the effect of becoming associated with the forms of life: so that the mind, being acted upon by these invisible impulses of being, images only things harmonious and beautiful. Then, again, there is the action on the mind from the world without. I’ve find that here the unity of life is lost sight of ; and the mind of man, having many things of seemingly opposite natures to contend with, questions the good and evil of these varying conditions. Many of these states produce in the mind feelings of resentment, avarice, anger, hate, etc.; in fact, all the evil emotions that affect the mind come from seeing things in wrong relationship to one another. They all come from the outer world—from things that seem discordant.

Now, the external world is not to be viewed as evil; nothing is evil in and of itself. Evil is the result of the false imaginings we indulge in; it is our partial way of considering things; it is a reversal of the true method of thinking, which works from the inner outward.

All the different mental conditions emanate from the imaging faculty, and by its proper control and direction we may achieve results in every way beneficial. In its true development we will find certain processes to be of great assistance. If we form the mental image after the true impulse, which enters the mind from the soul, the picture will be more nearly perfect than that which should com-e solely from external surroundings. Love for things pure and beautiful is first an inner state; but this will inevitably find its perfect correspondence in the world without. This applies both to persons and things. The abstract must associate itself with the concrete; but the abstract exists first. It would not be possible to convey by any mental image the idea of love to a mind that never felt its influence; neither could we make known the qualities of faith and hope, through word-pictures, to a mind that had never felt them. These are soul feelings, which transcend all mental action.

Two words may be used to express states of consciousness that act in very different ways upon the imaging faculty. These words are impulse and emotion. The former is used in a sense that refers to such qualities as faith, hope, and love, or that which enters the mind from the soul. The latter is that “something” produced by outward causes—persons or environment.“

It is noticeable that the most sublime and exalted human feelings are not the result of outside influences, but proceed from impulses within the soul. On the other hand, the lowest and most degraded sentiment is attributable either to other persons or to external conditions. Take, for instance, the action of a true impulse on the heart: it causes the blood to circulate more evenly and vigorously throughout the whole system. Where the circulation is imperfect, it proves that the emotions rather than the impulses are the mental directing forces. Emotions are caused by selfishness; they are of a personal character. Impulses are caused by the higher nature of man, and- are of a universal character. Consider the action of emotions on the stomach. This organ is affected by everything in the outer world, and especially by our environment and the people with whom we associate; thus, when the mind becomes filled with bitterness toward persons or conditions, we find the physical expression of acidity in the stomach. Consider also the action of faith and trust on the liver and spleen. It renders their functions normally active, while worry and anxiety, which are emotions proceeding from external causes, always occasion the reverse.

A majority of people attribute biliousness and other so-called liver troubles to improper food and drink, asserting that there is a reflex action upon the mind that produces despondency and gloom. But it is really immaterial what a man eats or drinks; he is superior to all exterior conditions. Believe the mind of a bilious person from anxiety and worry, and fill it with hope and trust—let his surroundings and actions be bright and cheerful—and a healthful physical condition will result. It may be difficult at first to bring this about; but persistency until the habit is formed will soon cause the mind to become related to all other hopeful minds, and in the end it will be easier to continue in the new mental conditions than to revert to the old.

The spiritual consciousness, as already said, imparts the thought of the unity of life—that all force and all intelligence are one, and therefore that every form must necessarily be an expression Of the inner force. Thus we should carry the thought of unity into the outer world, and see things in their true proportions—by reasoning from cause to effect. Material consciousness of life, losing sight of the whole and dealing with everything in part, sees nothing but diversity; all sense of proportion is lost, and the personal self becomes the greater. The things that gratify and seemingly do good to the personality are looked upon as the good things of life, while whatever thwarts or interferes with personal desire is regarded as evil, and all such outer evils become states Of consciousness that are imaged or pictured in mind.

Every thought we think, then, whether it be true or false, as imaged in mind, must be expressed on the body. Health and happiness come from an imagination directed and controlled by the highest that is within man, while mental discord and physical disease are the resultants of an untrained and uncontrolled imagination. “Imagination rules the world,” said Napoleon; but we must remember that the world for each and all of us to rule is that of mind and body. This world, rightly ruled, will have a beneficent effect on the greater world about us. Perfect dominion and control of this world of ours can never ensue so long so we picture in mind things that are contrary to our knowledge of good.

We should bring every thought into subjection, so that each one shall be pure, bright, and uplifting. The mind that pictures to itself sin, sickness, and disease, must continue to dwell in these states, and the body will be fashioned after the mind. The Christ gospel is the proclaiming of glad tidings, and we should carry glad tidings with us. Our every thought should be fashioned by the love, the hope, and the faith of life. We should rise above contradictory states of being—above the discord and unrest of material consciousness.

What we wish to be or to do in this world we must get clearly imaged in mind. Whenever we want to impress anything on other minds, we must have that picture clear and distinct in our own; and in order to make it effectual we must hold it before our mental vision so that the picture becomes virtually a part of us. By this method we get the true action of will to make effectual the thought we have idealized. Everything that man makes is thought into existence; and the more the imaging faculty is developed the more expression we find in the outer world. We see it expressed in more abundant statuary, paintings, and books; in public buildings, gardens, parks, and dwellings. Everything that man fashions or gives expression to in the outer world is first imaged in mind—and according to the image will be the expression. And it is so with our thoughts on all the matters of life. Harmony of thought and strength of purpose will and must find their expression in strength of body and perfection of form.

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Charles Brodie Patterson

  • Canadian New Thought author
  • Born in Nova Scotia in 1854 and died on June, 22nd 1917
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