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The Inner Consciousness



‘Automatic Thinking’




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THE advanced writers on the subject of psychology have given us many examples of the workings of the mind on the planes of what some have aptly called “Automatic Thinking,” We feel that it will be well to quote a few cases to illustrate this phase of the subject.

There are many instances stated of persons who had been earnestly endeavoring to solve certain problems and questions, but who had been compelled to lay aside the matters as incapable of solution at the time. In a number of such cases it is related that while thinking of something entirely foreign to the subject the long sought answer would suddenly flash into the field of consciousness, of course without any conscious effort on the part of the person.

A well-known writer, in giving an instance of the kind which had happened to him personally, states that when the answer came to him in this way he trembled as if in the presence of another being who had communicated the secret to him in a mysterious manner.

Nearly every person has had the experience of trying to remember a name, word, date, or similar thing, without success, and then after dismissing the matter from the mind have had the missing idea or word suddenly flashed from the Inner Consciousness into the field of the ordinary consciousness. Some part of the Inner Consciousness was at work trying to supply the demand, and when it found it, it presented it to the person.

Another well-known writer gives several cases of what he calls “unconscious rumination,” in which the mind worked silently, and below the field of the ordinary consciousness, after the person had read works relating to new subjects, or presenting new points of view essentially opposed to previously conceived opinions and views.

He states that in his own experience, he found that after days, weeks, or even months, he would awaken to a realization that his old opinions were entirely rearranged, and new ones had taken their place. Some have called this process “sub-conscious mental digestion and assimilation,” and indeed the process is akin to the work of the physical organism in digesting and assimilation,” material nourishment.

Sir William Hamilton is stated to have discovered an important mathematical principle while walking one day in the Dublin Observatory. He stated that upon the occasion he “felt the galvanic circle of thought close,” and the sparks that fell from the mental process were the fundamental mathematical relations of his problem, which as all students know now forms an important law in mathematics.

Thompson the psychologist has written as follows on this subject: “At times I have felt a feeling of uselessness of all voluntary effort, and also that the matter was working itself clear in my mind. It has many times seemed to me that I was really a passive instrument in the hands of a person not myself.

In view of having to wait for the results of these unconscious processes, I have proved the habit of getting together material in advance, and then leaving the mass to digest itself until I am ready to write about it. I delayed for a month the writing of my book ‘System of Psychology,’ but continued reading the authorities. I would not try to think about the book. I would watch with interest the people passing the windows.

One evening while reading the paper, the substance of the missing part of the book flashed upon my mind, and I began to write. This is only a sample of such experiences.”

Berthelot, the eminent French chemist who founded the present system of Synthetic Chemistry, has said that the experiments leading to his remarkable discoveries in that branch of science were seldom the result of carefully followed lines of conscious thought or pure reasoning processes, but, instead, came of themselves, from a clear sky, so to speak. Mozart, the great composer, once said: “I cannot really say that I can account for my compositions.

My ideas flow, and I cannot say whence or how they come. I do not hear in my imagination the parts successively, but I hear them, as it were, all at once. The rest is merely an attempt to reproduce what I have heard.” In addition to the experience above mentioned, Dr. Thompson has stated that: “In writing my work I have been unable to arrange my knowledge of a subject for days and weeks, until I experienced a clearing up of my mind, when I took my pen and unhesitatingly wrote the result.

I have best accomplished this by leading the mind away as far as possible from the subject upon which I was writing.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes has said: “The automatic flow of thought is often singularly favored by the fact of listening to a weak continuous discourse, with just enough ideas in it to keep the mind busy. The induced current of thought is often rapid and brilliant in inverse ratio to the force of the inducing current.”

Wundt has also said, on this subject: “The unconscious logical processes are carried on with a certainty and regularity which would be impossible where there exists the possibility of error. Our mind is so happily designed that it prepares for us the most important foundations of cognition, whilst we have not the slightest apprehension of the modus operandi. The unconscious soul, like a benevolent stranger, works and makes provisions for our benefit, pouring only the mature fruits into our laps.”

An English writer has stated: “Intimations reach our consciousness from unconsciousness, that the mind is ready to work, is fresh, is full of ideas. The grounds of our judgment are often knowledge so remote from consciousness that we cannot bring them to view.

The human mind includes an unconscious part; unconscious events occurring in that part are proximate causes of consciousness; the greater part of human intuitional action is an effect of an unconscious cause—the truth of these propositions is so deducible from ordinary mental events, and is so near the surface, that the failure of deduction to forestall induction in the discerning of it may well excite wonder.

Our behavior is influenced by unconscious assumptions respecting our own social and intellectual rank, and that of the one we are addressing. In company we unconsciously assume a bearing quite different from that of the home circle. After being raised to a higher rank the whole behavior subtly and unconsciously changes in accordance with it.

Commenting on the above, another writer adds: “This is also the case in a minor degree with different styles and qualities of dress and different environments. Quite unconsciously we change our behavior, carriage, and style, to suit the circumstances.”

Jensen has written: “When we reflect on anything with the whole force of the mind, we may fall into a state of entire unconsciousness, in which we not only forget the outer world, but also know nothing at all of ourselves and the thoughts passing within us after a time. We then suddenly awake as from a dream, and usually at the same moment the result of our meditations appears as distinctly in consciousness without our knowing how we reached it.”

Another writer has said: “It is inexplicable how premises which lie below consciousness can sustain conclusions in consciousness; how the mind can wittingly take up a mental movement at an advanced stage, having missed its primary steps.”

Some psychologists, Hamilton and others, have made a comparison likening the action of the mental processes to that of a row of billiard balls, of which one is struck and the impetus transmitted throughout the whole row, the result being that the last ball actually moves, the others remaining in their places. The last ball represents the plane of ordinary outer consciousness, the other balls representing the various stages of the action of the Inner Consciousness.

Lewes, the psychologist, commenting on the above conception, adds: “Something like this, Hamilton says, seems often to occur in a train of thought, one idea immediately suggesting another into consciousness—this suggestion passing through one or more ideas which do not themselves rise into consciousness.

This point, that we are not conscious of the formation of groups, but only of a formed group, may throw light on the existence of unconscious judgments, unconscious reasonings, and unconscious registrations of experience.”

In connection with these processes of the mind, on the planes below those of the outer consciousness, many writers have noted the discomfort and uneasiness preceding this birth into consciousness of the ideas developed on the unconscious planes. Maudsley says regarding this: “It is surprising how uncomfortable a person may be made by the obscure idea of something which he ought to have said or done, and which he cannot for the life of him remember.

There is an effort of the lost idea to get into consciousness, which is relieved directly the idea bursts into consciousness.” Oliver Wendell Holmes says: “There are thoughts that never emerge into consciousness, and which yet make their influence felt among the perceptive currents, just as the unseen planets sway the movements of the known ones.” He adds: “I was told of a business man in Boston who had given up thinking of an important question as too much for him.

But he continued so uneasy in his brain that he feared he was threatened with palsy. After some hours the natural solution of the question came to him, worked out, as he believed, in that troubled interval.”

The above experiences are common to the race, and nearly everyone who reads the above lines will at once recognize the occurrences as familiar in his or her own mental experience.

Among the many interesting cases related to illustrate the principle of “automatic thing,” or “unconscious rumination,” that of the famous mathematical prodigy, Zerah Colburn, is perhaps one of the most striking. This individual possessed a remarkable faculty of “automatically working out the most difficult mathematical problems.”

It is related of him, that while yet a child of seven years of age, and while he was without any previous knowledge of the common rules of arithmetic, he was still able by some intuitive Inner Conscious faculty, to solve the most difficult mathematical problems without the aid of figures, pencils or paper—by some Inner Conscious system of Mental Arithmetic.

At that early age, he was able in this way to immediately give the number of minutes and seconds in any given period of time, and to tell the exact product arising from the multiplication of any number consisting of two, three or four figures, by any other number consisting of a like number of figures. The records of his times give many wonderful instances of his strange power, from which we quote the following, as an illustration:

“At a meeting of his friends, which was held for the purpose of concerting the best methods of promoting the views of the father, this child undertook and completely succeeded in raising the number 8 progressively up to the sixteenth power. And in naming the last result, viz., 281,474,976,710,656, he was right in every figure.

He was then tried as to other numbers consisting of one figure, all of which he raised as high as the tenth power, with so much facility and dispatch that the person appointed to take down the results was obliged to enjoin him not to be so rapid. He was asked the square root of 106,929; and before the number could be written down, he immediately answered, 327. He was then required to name the cube root of 268,336,125; and with equal facility and promptness he replied, 645.

Various other questions of a similar nature, respecting the roots and powers of very high numbers, were proposed, to all of which he answered in a similar manner. One of the gentlemen asked him how many minutes there were in forty-eight years, and before the question could be written down he replied, 25,228,800; and then instantly added that the number of seconds in the same period was 1,513,728,000. He persistently declared that he did not know how the answers came into his mind.

Moreover, he was entirely ignorant of the common rules of arithmetic, and could not perform upon paper a simple sum in multiplication or division. In the extraction of roots, and in mentioning the factors of high numbers, he gave the answers either immediately, or in a very few seconds; whereas it requires, according to the ordinary method of calculation, very difficult and laborious work, and much time.”

A most peculiar sequel was noted in this case, for as the child was educated to perform mathematical calculations according to rule, and in the ordinary way, his wonderful power deteriorated, and in the end he was no more than the ordinary well-drilled child, so far as the branch of mathematics was concerned.

The instance of Blind Tom is also an illustration of “automatic thinking,” for this poor, blind creature—but little above idiocy so far as ordinary knowledge was concerned—possessed something in his Inner Consciousness that enabled him to play any piece that he had ever heard, even years before, with perfect reproduction of detail; and to also improvise wonderful strains, and harmonies.

Something was at work on the Inner Conscious planes of this poor black man’s mind—as if to show to a doubting and materialistic world the possibilities of the human mind and soul in its hidden phases.

In view of the above instances, and many other similar ones, can you doubt that there are planes of mental action, outside of the ordinary consciousness, on which in some marvelous manner mental work can be, and is, done? Even if the experience of nearly everyone did not furnish proof, surely the recorded cases should place the matter above the plane of doubt. And yet, so strong is the spirit of Doubt, that many will say: “Yes, but—!










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