Why think differently?
An imperfect world
Our world is far from perfect. Few people would deny this. Despite all the technical and scientic advances, we have not managed to build a world in which man lives in harmony with himself and his environment.
The reality is that whole nations still live in degrading circumstances. Armed conflicts and environmental pollution threaten life on our planet. Problems on a smaller scale are countless. These problems follow each other in such quick succession that many people respond with apathy.
Naturally people look for solutions everywhere, but where are they to be found? Most scientic and technical achievements seem, at best, to tackle the symptoms; we don't get to the root of the problems. New techniques often generate new problems, such as medical-ethical issues.
In addition to this, life's questions are a source of distress in themselves for many people. They are unable to find satisfactory answers to the whys and wherefores, the 'where did we come from' and 'whereto from here'. They seek answers. Religion based on a personal God and creator, or Science explaining evolution as mere changes of forms, don't offer adequate solutions to them. Furthermore alternative philosophies are for many people too vague. Bearing in mind that all problems facing mankind are caused by mankind, it follows that solutions should also only be sought within mankind, starting with individual people.
‘Your life is what your thoughts make it’
What can you contribute
It follows from all this that the solution lies with us — an illuminating and encouraging thought. If we see ourselves as an inseparable part of humankind, then we can conclude that the emphasis must be on our own contribution to the solution of all the world's problems.
When we talk about human beings, we are in fact talking about thinking beings. Although some people are more superficial in their thinking than others, it remains our capacity for thought that separates us from other creatures on our planet. It is the way we think that determines our individual mentality. And it is the dominating mentality of mankind as a whole that is behind the problems facing our world at the moment. The conclusion is obvious: this mentality can only be changed by adjusting our thinking habits.
Therefore: Think – Think differently – Dare to think differently!
How to think differently
The course Thinking Differently is there to support you in your efforts to free yourself from ingrained thought patterns and prejudices. We maintain that the above problems – an imperfect world and searching people – have their roots in a deeply entrenched materialistic mentality. This mentality means that the material expressions of life are seen as life itself.
When these can no longer be observed, one speaks of death. A distinction is made between 'living' and 'dead' matter — a thought process that is even evident in contemporary religion, but most especially in modern science. This mentality prevents mankind from getting to the essential cause of many problems; it leads instead to dead ends and pseudo-solutions.
The course focuses on a mentality that is clearly in opposition to this. But it is important that we should to be able to put our way of thinking to the test at all times. For this reason, the course is based on an open-minded search for Truth. We impress upon participants not to believe any ideas we introduce, without questioning them. That is what makes the course special. Merely taking someone's word for something is taboo. As a participant you will be expected to put things to the test yourself and only accept what is being claimed once you have experienced through your own investigation that it is right.
Methodology of the course
The course Thinking Differently offers an opportunity to those, who are genuinely seeking answers, to independently explore and reform their way of thinking. It offers realistic new structures for a practical life philosophy that provides answers to the many questions and problems that confront us. The course is based on the core Wisdom that forms the foundation of all major religions and philosophies with which the names of humankind’s greatest thinkers are associated. This core Wisdom is the essence of the teachings of Jesus, Buddha, Lao-tse, Plato, Krishna and many others, and is also found in Esoteric Philosophy or Theosophy.
At the heart of this core Wisdom is the urge for spiritual growth and advancement, to become one with the higher aspects of our being. These higher aspects represent the best characteristics and abilities, latent in each one of us. In fact it is a striving for union with the Reality behind and beyond outer life, by changing our way of thinking in such a way that we become capable of leading our life instead of enduring it as something preordained: a fate over which we have no control.
The content of the course and the approach used are based on this Wisdom. The method is also known as Râja-Yoga — union achieved through exercising the ‘royal attitude to life’. Those who created this course are members of The Theosophical Society who themselves have experienced the value of these philosophies. They can offer no guarantee for success other than the testimonials that they have put these core ideas to the test in their daily lives and have found them to be right.
It should be clear that the course Thinking Differently is not merely another attempt to force people to accept a set of notions. On the contrary. During the course people’s opinions are respected and interaction is open and frank. Your own experiences will be placed and discussed in the light of the subjects presented in the lessons.
It takes courage to decide to 'improve the world, starting at home'. We would not give our wholehearted support to the course had it not been our conviction that it is of real value for those who have taken this decision. If you too see the need to take on the problems that face our world, if you too are looking for a different attitude to life, take up this challenge and dare to think differently!
The following gives a summary of the subjects under discussion during the lessons.
Lesson 1 The nature of human thought
What is the focus of human thought? Is our way of thinking sound? What contradictions are evident in our way of thinking?
Lesson 2 Reality and illusion
Are sensory perceptions always infallible? What lies behind the world of phenomena? Absolute and objective idealism. Is it possible to learn how to recognise reality?
Lesson 3/4 Human consciousness
The composite nature of human consciousness. An investigation into the various aspects that make up the human consciousness. Pointers for an investigation into the orientation of your own thought processes.
Lesson 5 Man know thyself
Guidelines for an investigation into your own character. The notions ‘good’ and ‘evil’. What is consciousness? Selfishness and selflessness.
Lesson 6 Controlling thoughts
The properties that play a role in all of nature’s processes. Being master of your thought process. Guidelines for analysing thinking processes.
Lesson 7 Thoughts
What are thoughts? Spirit and matter in their interconnectedness. Is it possible to create new thoughts?
Lesson 8 Thought processes
What is ‘subconscious’ thought? How do thought processes work? How can you change the way you think?
Lesson 9 Directing thoughts
Transferring thoughts and ‘perceiving’ thoughts. Is it possible to help others through thinking? How can you use the power of thought safely?
Lesson 10 Changing thought patterns
‘Your life is what your thoughts make it’. Is it possible to change one’s character? The power of the imagination. Creating ideas.
Lesson 11 Unveiled thinking – the Socratic method
Knowledge or Wisdom? Judging ‘facts’ and opinions. Developing the power of discernment. What is right? The essence of things.
Lesson 12 Where humans are wanting
Is the majority always right? Why do philosophy and religion reach different conclusions? Is a synthesis possible? Requirements a life philosophy must meet.