It would appear that some of today’s most popular “new age” speakers and writers have drawn — directly or indirectly — upon the Upanishads and the Vedas for their initial inspiration. In particular, the analogue between waking life and various dream-like states seems to have been inspired by readings in early Hindu scripture. But, if so, it must be said that modern interpretations of such literature are largely extrapolations from it. In particular, the notion that the physical world can be altered via “The Power of Positive Thinking”* is (to Toshiyori’s knowledge) not supported by any quotation from ancient Indian texts. Rather, war, famine, conquest and death may be rendered more “acceptable” by altering one’s perception of them. We can, for example, choose to regard the “Four Horsemen” as merely a portion of a far vaster — and continuously changing — tableau.
To the extent that the world is a “dream,” it is a product of the minds of countless trillions of sentient beings, past, present, and future; it is the dream of what Carl Jung termed the collective unconscious. Accordingly, “positive thinking,” by whatever name, will fail to change the world whenever it is a minority opinion. If, for example, you are diagnosed with cancer, you may well be determined to resist it and return to health. But, if everyone around you — physicians, nurses, family members, and friends — think you are dying, your prospects for recovery are poor at best. This may explain why seriously ill individuals are sometimes disinclined to discuss their conditions with relatives or friends.
Even in those instances where it would appear that a majority should be in solidarity — e.g., in opposition to war — so frightened are the masses that the will of politicians, media moguls, generals, bankers, arms manufacturers and their stockholders too often tends to prevail. It might even be that, today, governments have a vested interest in keeping the public fearful of “terrorism” and “evil doers” in Europe, Asia Minor, and the Orient.
Every tyrant or would-be tyrant instinctively realizes that fear is the key: “That which I most feared has come upon me!” A population kept in fear readily abandons freedom in exchange for the government’s promise of protection, and this is true whether that “government” is represented by an absolute monarch, a feudal baron, an Asiatic warlord, or an ambitious contemporary prime minister or president. “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” Thus, though it may render the nightmare more acceptable, thinking as positively as possible won’t change the substance.
It is worth recalling that even Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s Marble Collegiate Church had a state-of-the art burglar alarm on its front door. Think positively, but carry a big stick.
Yet, despite both the doubt and fear of multitudes, “miracles” persist in occurring. Keep the faith; strive not to stray from the Eightfold Noble Path! Don’t fall victim to snake oil salesmen pedaling some “secret” path to love and riches. Put your trust in the scriptures and the teachings of the masters! In moments of doubt, call upon Kannon and Manjusri to give you strength and wisdom. Fear nothing but the hot Hells. When the end nears, remember Amida’s vow and recite the Nembutsu. All will be well.
*The title of Norman Vincent Peale’s (1898 – 1993) New York Times best-selling book. Dr. Peale is known to have taken at least two courses from Ernest Holmes’ “Science of Mind” movement. Holmes (1887 – 1960) was, in turn, a keen student of the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882) who, during the mid 1840s, is known to have been absorbed in the study of the Vedas and the Baghavad Gita.