The Arthur Conan Doyle EncyclopediaThe Arthur Conan Doyle EncyclopediaThe Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
22 May 1859, Edinburgh M.D., Kt, KStJ, D.L., LL.D., Sportsman, Writer, Poet, Politician, Justicer, Spiritualist Crowborough, 7 July 1930

What Are Thougths?

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

What Are Thougths? is an article written by Mary Conan Doyle, the first daughter of Arthur Conan Doyle, first published in the Waterloo Evening Courier on 15 january 1921.


What Are Thougths?

Waterloo Evening Courier
(15 january 1921, p. 9)
St. Louis Globe-Democrat
(30 january 1921, magazine section, p. 7)

Thoughts are living, indestructible things, terrible in their finality if misused, everlasting in their good if rightly applied, the greatest human responsibility.

They are the very truth of me and of you, and all living things; the prelude to every action, every impulse; the determining factor in happiness or sorrow, success or failure — this is Thought, invisible as the air we breathe, and as necessary to us.

There is, we are told, a tremendous force called "Odic," which is at the root of all life.

It is an essence, the raw material, as it were, from which all thoughts spring.

A connection exists between this force and the new form of power scientists are discovering — the energy of unused thought-force.

It is the force demonstrated in all physical phenomena today and in the old miracles of the past.

At one time in the world's history this element was recognized and turned to account (as we recognise and use the forces of air and water), but with the ever increasing trend of materialism it has been lost, except where it survives among the eastern people in the form of occultism, or what we term "magic." It remains to be rediscovered, just as electricity was rediscovered after being lost for centuries.

We can imagine this swirling, vapor-like "Odic" generating by the very force of its energy the sparks of ideas. And these ideas again increasing and combining into thought-groups, which again dissolve and combine in everlasting motion, till mass-groups or cycles are formed, in which small thought-group is lost.

Then in turn the great cycles go thru the evolution of the thought group, dissolve and combine in everlasting motion, until the seventh and final mass-group is reached, the outer rim of which is the limit of mortal concept.

The last vestige of materiality is shed, and we get the return of the prodigal son, man — the pure spirit — enters his father's house.

We can further picture how human consciousness sprang from these Odic sparks — man in materiality — the dual conception — that which is immortal surrounded by all that is perishable.

Next the question arises, where do we belong in this vast scale of life and what determines our progress?

Individuals may belong to even the seventh cycle while here on earth if they have been clear enough in their vision to avoid being caught in the vortex of community-thought.

In other words, if they have been ahead of their age. Such usually return for some definite mission. The majority do not achieve this, tho it is possible for all.

As to what determines our progress, it is simply the quality of our thought, what we have made of the living material at our disposal. As the painter expresses himself thru colors and the musician thru sound, so the artist in life is given the medium of thoughts to work with. The loftier and purer the thought the more perfect the harmony, the more delicate the line.

The poet and the artist here on earth are those to whom the intended harmony of things is more of a reality than to the rest. Often he whom we call a "dreamer" is nearer in touch with truth than we think.

"As a man thinks he is" — there it is — and every action, every expression, is the outcome of this basic fact.

One of the clearest examples of the power of thought, force, is seen in the management of children. It Is well known that an excitable or nervous disposition in the nurse will make the most placid child become irritable.

While, when the case is reversed and the child is excitable, it responds invariably to the influence of a quiet, firm will. Children not being experienced in control or used to dissimulation respond to mood extraordinarily quickly. They show us as in a mirror what we are.

Therefore the golden rule is to seek harmony, and when we fail to find it, to look into our own thoughts rather than condemn anyone else; for the harmonious and perfectly poised thought is like a magnetized pole. It attracts those qualities in others and insensibly allays discord and friction.

We are often put out by seeming wide differences. Differences in nature and mind, in age and outlook. There again we must strive to get down to the root of things and know that fundamentally we all need the same thing whether we admit it or not — the understanding of love.

Many are betrayed by their best impulses thru lack of discernment. Those, for instance, who in the excess of their sympathy and desire to help another take up sides in some issue, and are violently biased in their attitude. They do nothing but start a chain of violence that eventually encircle the very one they would protect!

There are always at least two sides to every question — and usually far more — so it is best to keep an even mind and "judge not at all."

I can hear the reader murmur at this. He imagines someone he cares for being worried, and the dear old fighting instinct arises within him — one big protest! It is first cousin to the writer's own thought — and deeply sympathized with, but don't you see, violence only begets violence?

Let all that pep and fizz, which is the best of the fighting quality, go out to protect — make it a wall of protection round the one you love. Let the perfection of its force reach the annoying element and dissipate it, as the sun does the mist!

The great thing to get hold of is, that people are not good and bad, so much as "cloudy" and "clear." Therefore, let your clarity dispel another's cloud, and all the splendid vigor of the fighting quality — with its dear loyalty and devotion — goes to building up, and wastes none of its substance in pulling down.

Every human quality is right or mistaken according to the use made of it. So there is no need of destruction — only to alter the aspect. We want our fighters to become builders — that is in itself an altered aspect of the same quality.

It will make for greater precision, to place thought, under three headings:

(1) Active

(2) Passive

(3) Sub-conscious

The active covers all intellectual pursuits, every lively interest or sustained effort.

The passive is just "habit," what we do as the result of having thought, rather than positive thinking; and the sub-conscious is inherited thought, or memory.

Much of what we call "instinct," or (its other aspect!) "prejudice," comes under this group.

It is really untested thought, used readymade. This, then, is the basis of whatever we choose to build, as the scale is to the musical composition.

And how wonderful and manifold that expression can be! What a boundless freedom is ours!

When we consider all the different nationalities, and the types within each nationality; all the different kinds of talent and expression, from the thunder of a powerful intellect to the finest shades of lyrical emotion — and each a perfection in its own style, a rounded off, exquisite idea; when we stop and realize all this, we can only thank God for life! — the whole glorious scheme of things, even tho what is falls tar below what might be.

Material life somewhat resembles an old Greek torso dug up from beneath ruins. It is battered and its nose is off, and its arm and foot are missing. But, oh, what there is of it, is superb! The unerring line, the majesty of pose, the indestructible beauty which time has impaired but not destroyed — this is the earth life! We see in the loveliness of its imperfection the implied perfection.

Praxitile's masterpiece did not come out of nothingness. The artist had his model, and the divine conception of what a man should be before his model. That also resembles human life.

The man perishes, and at last the masterpiece wrought in stone crumbles into dust. But the idea back of the man's masterpiece, survives. Survives in the might of its beauty, where there is no Time to destroy!