Rosicrucian Writings Online
THOUGHT OF THE MONTH
LITTLE THOUGHTS MAKE LITTLE MEN
By THE IMPERATOR
[H. Spencer Lewis]
[From The Rosicrucian Digest August 1939]
THERE are more men who hold inferior places or positions in life because of awe, than because of lack of opportunity. Thousands of men, in the privacy of their own homes, have uttered opinions that rightly should make the conclusions and ideas of the established sages of business, commerce, and public affairs obsolete by the sheer weight of their logic. Many a man with natural insight and clarity of expression has voiced to the members of his family such solutions to world problems that, had the same words fallen from the lips of a solon in some stately capitol, it would have brought that dignitary great acclaim. At a gathering of friends or associates, however, if the occasion requires, this individual will also express himself freely until an authority on the topic under discussion enters; he then retreats in confusion or sinks into embarrassed silence. He immediately surrenders his virgin thoughts to the "weighty" influence of the one whom society has designated as his superior. His own ideas may be startling, and, though untried, scintillating with brilliance and possibility, but they are shunted into oblivion merely because the one before him bears the title of authority, or has had years of experience in the subject, and might not approve of his remarks.
Is, after all, all thought catalogued? May not a man's concepts have a great potentiality of accomplishment, even though they are not refined by filtering through the accumulated theories, beliefs, and errors of myriads of men before him? What is this quality of authority to which we all pay such homage, and before which we are impelled to cast aside our own ideas? One who has made an exhaustive research in a field of knowledge or accomplishment and has learned all that human experience has discovered about that branch of knowledge, and has mastered what he has learned is rightly called an authority. As an authority, he should be accepted because of his concentration of thought and effort along one line, and because he is able to recite definitely what is known on the subject and what has been done or thought about it before. For this we must respect him, just as we must also pay great respect to the accumulation of knowledge which our dictionaries, encyclopedias, and text books contain, and just as we also must look with admiration upon the magnificent edifices housing thousands of volumes on every conceivable subject and that constitute our great libraries, yet, must such admiration and respect necessarily quell all individual thought? For example, does the progressive business man who gazes upon the rows of volumes in the library on business administration, promotion, selling, and advertising resign himself to failure or to non-activity, with the self-assertion: "What can I hope to contribute in the way of new ideas for expansion of business in view of what has gone before?"
Certainly no bright young man with an inventive trend of mind and cogent reasoning will abandon his mental picture of a needed mechanical contrivance because in a museum of mechanical arts he finds himself surrounded with the handiwork of past geniuses. Benjamin Franklin was not an authority on electricity when he began. He was just an experimenter. Robert Fulton was not a recognized designer of steamboats, but one who was a developer of an idea.
Most authorities gain their prominence by what they know about what others have done or accomplished. A few gain their eminence by what they themselves have done; however, in the latter case, their virgin concepts and ideas preceded their importance as authorities. Consequently, if you have an idea, no matter how radical in departure from the accepted ideas of those who are experts or masters it may be, if it can not be disproved by the facts of experience or refuted by demonstrations of natural laws, it is equal to any man's. It does not matter how unknown you may be or how acclaimed the disapproving authority may be.
The advancement of knowledge and the progress of the world is accomplished by two means--first, the inductive method; studying the particular, the things and phenomena of the world, and from them deducing the general law by which other things or particulars can be brought about. The second method is the deductive one. We start with a concept, an idea--clear, forceful--and it causes us to search for the parts, the realities that can be fitted into it to make it become an actuality. The latter, or those who pursue the deductive method, are frequently called dreamers and scoffed at. The only dreamer who is worthless is the one who is content to just dream and allow his visions to dissipate themselves. The one who finds inspiration in his dream and who uses it as an incentive to action, who coordinates it with reason and perception, is the one who has reached out and caught the distant horizon by one hand and the present world by the other and is attempting to bring the two together. Quite frequently it is this dreamer with a stupendous ideal which surpasses present reality, who engages the numerous inductionists to study the existing things of the day, and to find a way to develop the idea into factual things. Who are the greatest contributors to society's advancement, researchers, or the idealists, or those who combine attributes of both? Necessity is still the mother of invention. The abstract ideal often draws to itself the tangible, the realities by which it eventually becomes accepted fact. No matter how humble your position in life, or your lack of schooling, you are never wrong until you are proven to be. Your thoughts are not contaminated merely because they are your own, unless they be in error. No amount of ridicule, scoffing, or patronizing leers of authority can rob your idea of its potentialities, if there are no existing facts or principles which can be demonstrated to prove you wrong.
A man is truly only as big as he thinks. If he considers himself inferior because he bears no academic degrees, and consequently disqualifies every thought of his own that borders on the established branches of knowledge, he makes himself one who holds only to inconsequential and petty thoughts, casting aside all of the worthy ones. Your thoughts determine your actions, and actions make you either prominent or a small being of a very small mental world. A man who has a distaste for knowledge and has no educational standing, only because he despises it, is one whose native intelligence is obviously small. From him, under no circumstances, could one expect worthy thoughts, and his actions consequently show him as shallow as his mind. On the other hand, one who because of dire circumstances or misfortunes has never had educational advantages, but loves knowledge, may by that consciousness and attitude of mind conceive as lofty thoughts as one weighted down with scholastic degrees. There is a great breach between intelligence and education. One may be intelligent and not educated, and one may be educated and not intelligent. Intelligence is the ability of the mind to respond to new conditions and to realize keenly what it perceives and to create from out of its accumulated impressions new things, new views, new courses of action. Education enhances intelligence in providing the mind with an abundance of material with which to work, but it can not give the mind that aptitude necessary to use what it has acquired. Intelligence alone can do that.
There is also a difference between venturing a guess, and an actual conviction that may be subject to examination. One would not want to be an individualist to the extent of guessing a remedy to an ailment when a physician knows the one needed. On the other hand, one should not abandon, for example, a new concept of aerodynamics, which he may have, merely because an aeronautical engineer says that the idea is untried, entirely different, or a departure from the accepted view.
It must be realized that no training or method has yet been developed by man which gives to a certain class of men only the power of origination of ideas; therefore, each idea, whether it is the ebullience of a layman or an academician, if it survives the test of experience it has merit. As Ralph Waldo Emerson so succinctly said in his essay: Self-Reliance, "In every work of genius, we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty."
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