A distinction must be made between formal enunciation of fact and constructive conception. What do these terms mean, and what is their use to us?
FORMAL ENUNCIATION is a statement of truth, which describes a situation or a fact or series of facts. Such a statement might be: "Two and two are four", or "That wall is constructed from fourteen thousand bricks". This is also the area of dogma, where it is said, for instance: "Do this and do not do that, believe this and do not believe that —and you will reach a certain goal."
Almost every single philosophy, religion, system must stabilize itself on a formal enunciation. Even those which claim to have no dogma almost always have a dogma: such as, "Do this, and do not do that, and such-and-such a thing should eventually happen."
THE FLAW OF FORMAL ENUNCIATION, OR DOGMA. The flaw in this kind of approach is that it borrows the framework of a physical situation (the bricks in the wall) to predict a non-physical result (illumination, knowledge, etc). It ignores the argument that "constructive conception" uses: namely that a working hypothesis may not be absolutely true, but that it tends to provoke the working of a true situation.
The CONSTRUCTIVE CONCEPTION, on the other hand, does not borrow materials from the physical world and endows them with a sacrosanct nature of a mechanical kind. Where the formal enunciation system is primitive in the sense of making communication assumptions that are not true, constructive conception is a "help", something which will help to provoke a certain kind of higher mental development.
ILLUSTRATION OF CONSTRUCTIVE CONCEPTION: On the lower level, as in the teaching of children, the parent or teacher does not inculcate rigid dogma, but supplies environmental EXPERIENCE which the child himself uses. Any child who is conditioned to believe certain things as absolutely true will have its development stunted. In teaching, for instance, a child to familiarize itself with the concept of "round", we say: "The Moon is round, the plate is round, the coin is round." We subject the child to certain specific statements and experiences, while making sure that it will not equate "round" with "Moon" only, or "plate" only. If we did not do this, the child would grow up to think "Round" means the Moon".
In the teaching of conceptions and in the development of higher kinds of understanding in the adult, we must expose the student to environmental impacts of this nature; we therefore assemble a lot of arguments, ideas, statements, objects, experiences, which we have selected (as one would select on the lower level of the concept of "round") in such a manner that all these things contain common elements of the thing we are teaching, the equivalent, in this case of "round". The dogmatist cannot and does not do this. As a result, the way in which he is going is that of offering a conditioning, a training which cannot provide any opportunity for the mentation of the student to undergo a process comparable on the other level to going to the abstract from the concrete; from the "plate" to the "round".
This flaw is what distinguishes a "way" from a static teaching. It is characteristic of human organization that there is always a tendency towards teaching in the easier manner; the staying at the point of "round is a coin, a plate, the Moon".
APPLICATION OF THE CONSTRUCTIVE CONCEPTION IN OUR WORK:
Here is an example of Constructive Conception in action: We postulate three things. The first is the machine of the bodily organism in man; the second is the brain with the nervous system, which has physical characteristics yet works in a more refined, electronic-chemical manner, more effectively, being able to do things which the body cannot. There is a parallel, but a great difference: between the thought of picking something up and the picking up of a thing. Finally there is the postulate of a third factor, as different from the brain as the brain is from the body, yet up to a point dependent upon the brain as the brain is upon the body. This is more refined yet than the brain. It has been variously named in different traditions. This Third Factor is the area in which we want to be in connection and that we have to work to be prepared for this.
The above example is not literally true, any more than "the Moon is round" is literally true. But it is constructively true in that by keeping this conception in our minds we can activate the connection with the Third Factor. It is therefore a means, not a dogmatic assertion.
It is interesting to observe how the introduction of the argument of constructive conception excites yet sometimes also depresses students. They have been conditioned, of course, to expect to be offered a dogmatic truth, once and for all, which will replace or supersede all the truths which they have studied in the past. But they cannot be given such a truth, because it does not truly exist at that level of thought. They can, however, by means of the employment of the constructive conception, the working hypothesis, reach the truth which they seek.
The value of this particular constructive conception is immense. It enables us to communicate with the area which we designate as the Third Factor, signaling to it through the thinking brain and also through physical impact, movements, breath, dancing, or areas in the body that have a specific concentration in the nervous plexus. It enables us to keep clearly in mind the idea of Three Domains (itself a constructive conception) and the orderly progression from "coarse to fine" which alone enables us to signal to the Third Factor that we are intending to communicate with it.
It also enables us to keep strongly in mind, in a semi-logical manner the need for the three elements to work in a certain sort of harmony because we can now say:
"Just as the upkeep of the body is essential, for the nutrition and proper working of the brain, so is the working of the body and brain necessary for the correct operation and development of the Third Factor".
Again, by applying certain successive body and brain impacts, with the use of this constructive conception that enables us to keep strongly in under voluntary attention the concept of the Third Factor, we can activate and enable to manifest itself the Third Factor, which tends to be in abeyance because that which enables the three functions to operate together is only rarely and sporadically found in ordinary life.
This can call forth the analogy that "a child can in fact work out what 'round' is without being taught, but the chances are that he will not. It is also obvious that he will in any case not arrive as fast and as clearly at the idea of 'round" if he is left to his own devices and random choice as he will if the necessary materials for arriving at the concept of 'round' are applied to his perceptions in a coherent or at least a suitable manner."
This, in a nutshell, is the manner of working of this teaching. Certain people, collected in a certain manner, are provided with materials of all kinds and encouraged to approach them in a certain manner, in order to establish bases for their self-development.
It is useless to make the assumption:
1. That, given the enormous variety of possible experimentation, any man, however literate or eager, can select for himself the materials to study, the manner of their study and the company in which they are to be studied:
2. That without first giving a great deal of contextual or "familiarization" material, the man or woman is in a condition to carry out the search with a hope of success.
It is stressed that although we build upon what is already there, some of the foundations themselves are lacking. It is we who have to supply them to the student.
The constructive conception permit us to put attention and maintain stable this attention in direction to the object that we want receive information and data. It is not the true spiritual object that is in the attention but the constructive conception indicated direction that we have to attend to perceive the irradiation that came from this level of being. In this way we go out of the condition of being unaware of this level of being to being aware of this level. The possibility to maintain the attention in direction of our object of interest is the more important result. The state of mind that we technically call sincerity depends of this.