Today we take a New Thought related question from one of our readers and give our ideas on the subject!
Q: I have heard and read some New Thought teachers talking about “making the ideal real”. Is this simply about using thought to create in our lives what we think would be the ideal scenario? It seems like they may be talking about something more than that? (M.A. via email)
A: Good question. There are a couple of ways that we can look at this frequently used New Thought aphorism. On the one hand, it is simply a “catchy phrase” that we can easily remember in order to get us to quickly change our thinking on something. I frequently use the also rhyming statement “what you resist persists” to serve help me shift my thinking on things.
This simple reminder can serve just as you describe in your question. If I am using my thoughts, words and actions to direct the creation of something I desire, then “the ideal” is that picture in my mind of that which I want. Hence, to “make the ideal real” at one level means to work towards manifesting (to make real) that which is our highest visualized desire (the ideal).
However, there is a deeper way we can employ this phrase. Let’s take a moment to review the words of some early New Thought writers to get to this deeper meaning.
We start with Thomas Troward and his book The Edinburgh Lectures on Mental Science first published in 1904 and revised in 1909. There, Troward wrote that the “primary causes” for what we experience are really those thoughts that started the initial creation. Then once “things” or “conditions” in the manifest world were in movement by those thoughts, they started chain reactions that were really “secondary causes”. To that point he wrote:
“But now when investigation has shown us that conditions are never causes in themselves, but only the subsequent links of a chain started on the plane of the pure ideal, what we have to do is to reverse our method of thinking and regard the ideal as the real, and the outward manifestation as a mere reflection which must change with every change of the object which casts it.”
What Troward and many teachers have pointed to is the fact that our lives play out in different realms or different dimensions, if you like. On the one hand, we live in this material world frequently called the world of the “relative” as it revolves around the interactions and “relationships” of things that appear to be separate. They exist “relative” to one another in this state of experience.
But many mystics and deep thinkers have pointed out that we also live in other, “higher” realms….such as the mental and spiritual. One might consider it as if we have a physical body, then a mental body that transcends and includes the physical body, followed by a spiritual body that transcends and includes both the mental and physical. It is much like a sliding scale that we move up from the world of the relative to these higher states to such a point that we transcend our state of individualization. The “higher” we go, the more we move into the state of the “Absolute”. It is this space that Troward calls us to in the following quote:
“Now, it is this higher degree of self-recognition that is the power by which the Mental Scientist produces his results. For this reason it is imperative that he should clearly understand the difference between Form and Being; that the one is the mode of the relative and, the mark of subjection to conditions, and that the other is the truth of the absolute and is that which controls conditions.”
The more that we can connect with the realm of the Absolute, the more we become in touch with a higher ideal of what is possible. Somewhere in the Absolute is a perfect idea (or ideal) for our expression in all realms. Here we tap into the idea of what is called the “Law of Correspondence” which was frequently described in the ancient Hermetic teaching by the phrase “as above, so below; as below, so above”.
How can we do this? Troward writes:
“The initial step, then, consists in determining to picture the Universal Mind as the ideal of all we could wish it to be both to ourselves and to others, together with the endeavour to reproduce this ideal, however imperfectly, in our own life; and this step having been taken, we can then cheerfully look upon it as our ever-present Friend, providing all good, guarding from all danger, and guiding us with all counsel.”
So on the one hand, to “make the ideal real” is simply to picture in our minds the highest possibility. But on the other hand, we can shift a bit and see that highest possibility actually existing in some kind of “ideal” that is held in Spirit or the Absolute. That takes us to the recognition that there is even an “ideal” that may even be further beyond our ability to visualize. It certainly allows us to see that somewhere in the universe is an idea that already exists in “the Mind of Spirit” about the perfection or our lives and our experiences. Our goal then is to continue to tap into this greater vision and to allow it come forth effortlessly and easily.
It was New Thought author Christian D. Larson who truly popularized the phrase we are discussing with the publication of his 1909 best selling book, The Ideal Made Real. To bring this idea of the realms of life to a popular audience, he reframed it as bringing together our outer world and our inner world. He called us to cultivate our sense of being a scientist in the material world and a prophet as we explore the spiritual world:
“To understand the scientific relationship that exists between the real and the ideal, the mind must have both the power of interior insight and the power of scientific analysis, as well as the power of practical application; but we do not find, as a rule, the prophet and the scientist in the same mind. The man who has visions and the man who can do things do not usually dwell in the same personality; nevertheless, this is necessary. And every person can develop both the prophet and the scientist in himself. He can develop the power to see the ideal and also the power to make the ideal real. The large mind, the broad mind, the deep mind, the lofty mind, the properly developed mind can see both the outer and the inner side of things. Such a mind can see the ideal on high, and at the same time understand how to make real, tangible and practical what he has seen. The seeming gulf between the ideal and the real, between the soul’s vision and the power of practical action is being bridged in thousands of minds to-day, and it is these minds who are gaining the power to make themselves and their own world as beautiful as the visions of the prophet; but the ideal life and the world beautiful are not for the few only. Everybody should learn how to find that path that leads from the imperfections of present conditions to the world of ideal conditions—the world of which we have all so frequently dreamed.”
Larson then goes on to provide guidance towards becoming that practical mystic that sees the ideal in the world of the spiritual and finds ways to bring those highest visions into form in our “real world”. The advice he provided over 100 years ago is so timeless that readers still benefit from reading his book.
Thanks for the question and here is knowing that we are all seeking and knowing that “ideal” for our lives and making it “real” in our human lives!
Have a New Thought question you would like me to share my thoughts on? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org