The natural scientist studies the external world. He or she observes, experiments, classifies and analyzes everything around them. This is done with the intent of gaining knowledge and understanding of the universe and being able to use this knowledge. This knowledge can be applied for the benefit of the world or for its degradation.
Those who study the mind reverse the process. The attention is turned inward. The mind is turned back in upon itself. Investigations are carried out in the realm of the mind, rather than the realm of matter. When someone first begins to turn their attention within, with the intent of gaining knowledge and understanding, they embark on the most beautiful and exciting journey in existence: the journey within. The journey within can be roughly said to progress through five stages.
1) Observation – When time is taken to withdraw oneself from the distractions of the external world a mental spotlight is placed on the mind. Stepping back from the comings and goings of the world, one begins to observe and note the subtle and shifting aspects and processes of the mind. One is faced with a confusing jumble of desires, thoughts, ideas and emotions. This introspection represents the beginning of self-control, when a person puts a check on one’s natural impulses and instead of being controlled by them, begins to exert control.
2) Analysis – Upon closely observing the mind, one notices patterns and habits. One begins to analyze them more carefully and the positive and negative tendencies are distinguished from one another. Gradually, one comes to understand how certain thoughts lead to certain actions which, in turn, produce certain effects. It becomes clear that one’s thoughts become habits and these habits mold one’s character.
3) Modification – Having closely observed and analyzed the mind, a person sees their positive and negative qualities. They see themselves as they really are. Standing face to face with oneself, no longer rationalizing one’s weak points, one clearly sees the work which is to be done. The laws of the mind bring order to the previous state of confusion. Realizing that certain thoughts lead to certain effects, the person begins to modify their mind in accordance with the laws observed. No longer thinking and acting blindly, one is guided by clearly understood laws. Confusion is replaced by simplicity and selfishness is replaced by integrity. One is no longer a slave to circumstances.
4) Knowledge – Through observation, analysis and modification of oneself, we gain a knowledge of the forces of the mind and the guiding principles behind all human endeavors and events. Through this mastery of self-control it can now be said of the person, in the same sense of the natural scientist, that he knows and understands. He knows right and wrong and begins to conduct himself in accordance with that which is right.
5) Wise Application of Knowledge – And just like the natural scientist, this knowledge is not merely acquired for one’s self alone, it is to be used. Upon understanding the way of things, one is compelled to wisely use what has been learned to further the cause of humanity. The wisdom gained is poured out into the world in the hopes that it will inspire others to do the same and, slowly, bit by bit, uplift humanity.