In the Introduction, I have changed "yet is is a very literal truth" to "yet it is a very literal truth". Also in the Introduction, I changed the spelling of "faculities" to "faculties" (other spelling remains unchanged). Finally, while most of the proper names are capitalized, not all of them are, and I have left the uncapitalized names as they appeared in the original.
THE MYSTIC WILL
A Method of Developing and Strengthening the Faculties of the Mind, through the Awakened Will, by a Simple, Scientific Process Possible to Any Person of Ordinary Intelligence
CHARLES G. LELAND
American Edition Published by The Progress Company 515-519 Rand McNally Building Chicago, Illinois English Representatives: L. N. Fowler & Co. 7, Imperial Arcade, Ludgate Circus, London, E. C.
Charles Godfrey Leland
AMERICAN AUTHOR WHO DIED MARCH 20, 1903 AT FLORENCE, ITALY AGED 79
"The good that men do lives after them."
This wonderful treatise was first published in England several years ago, under the title of "Have You a Strong Will?" and has run through several editions there. In its original form, it was printed in quite large type, double-leaded, and upon paper which "bulked out" the book to quite a thick volume. Some copies have been sold in America, but the price which dealers were compelled to charge for it, in its original shape, prevented the wide circulation that it merited, and which its author undoubtedly desired for it, for it seems to have been a labor of love with him, the interest of the race in his wonderful theories evidently being placed above financial returns by Mr. Leland. Believing that the author's ideas and wishes would be well carried out by the publication of an American edition printed in the usual size type (without the expedient of "double-leading" unusually large type in order to make a large volume), which allows of the book being sold at a price within the reach of all, the publisher has issued this edition along the lines indicated.
The present edition is identical with the original English edition with the following exceptions:
(1) There has been omitted from this edition a long, tiresome chapter contained in the original edition, entitled "On the Power of the Mind to master disordered Feelings by sheer Determination. As Set forth by Immanuel Kant in a letter to Hufeland," but which chapter had very little to say about "the power of the mind," but very much indeed about Hygiene, Dietetics, Sleep, Care of Oneself in Old Age, Hypochondria, Work, Exercise, Eating and Drinking, Illness, etc., etc., from the point of view of the aged German metaphysician, which while interesting enough in itself, and to some people, was manifestly out of place in a book treating upon the development of Mental Faculties by the Will, etc. We think that Mr. Leland's admirers will find no fault with this omission.
(2) The word "Suggestion" has been substituted for the word "Hypnotism" in several places in the original text, where the former word was manifestly proper according to the present views of psychologists, which views were not so clearly defined when the book was written.
(3) The chapter headings of the original book have been shortened and simplified in accordance with the American form.
(4) The title "The Mystic Will" has been substituted in place of that used in the original edition, which was "Have You a Strong Will?" This change was made for the reason that the original title did not give one the correct idea of the nature of the book, but rather conveyed the idea of an inquiry regarding the "iron-will," etc., which the author evidently did not intend. The use of the Will, as taught in the book by Mr. Leland, is not along the lines of "the iron-will," but is rather in the nature of the employment of a mystic, mysterious, and almost weird power of the Human Will, and the title of the present edition is thought to more correctly represent the nature of the book, and the author's own idea, than the inquiry embodied in the title of the original edition.
(5) Several unimportant footnotes, references to other books, etc., have been omitted after careful consideration.
(Those who would wish to read the book in its original English edition will be able to procure it from the English publisher, Mr. Philip Wellby, 6 Henrietta street, Covent Garden, London, W. C, England.)
To the few readers of this book who are not familiar with the author, Mr. Charles G. Leland, it may be said that this gifted man was an American by birth, but who lived in Europe for many years before his death. He died March 20, 1903, at Florence, Italy, at the ripe age of 79 years, active until the last and leaving unpublished manuscripts, some not completed. He lived up to his ideas and profited by them. His writings are spread over a period of nearly, or fully, fifty years, and his range of subjects was remarkable in its variety, style, and treatment.
Among his best known works were "Practical Education," "Flaxius," "The Breitmann Ballads" (which introduced his well-known character "Hans Breitmann"), "Gypsy Sorcery and Fortune Telling," "Wood Carving," "Leather Work," "Metal Work," "Drawing and Designing," "The Minor Arts," "Twelve Manuals in Art Work," "The Album of Repousse Work," "Industrial Art in Education," "Hints on Self Education," and many other works along the lines of Manual Training, etc., and the Development of the Constructive Faculties; "Kulsop the Master, and other Algonquin Poems and Legends," "The Alternate Sex," and many other works, some of which are now out of print, but a number of which may be purchased from, or through, any bookseller. There has been recently published a biographical work embodying his memoirs, written and edited by his beloved niece, Mrs. Pennell, to which volume all admirers of this wonderful man are referred.
Every subject touched upon by Mr. Leland was brightly illuminated by the power of his marvellous mind. He seemed to be able to go right to the heart of the subject, seizing upon its essential truth and at the same time grasping all of its details. His mind was so full of general information that it fairly oozed out from him in all of his writings. The reader will notice this phenomenon in the present book, in which the author has evidently had to fight his own mind in order to prevent it from intruding all sorts of valuable and varied general information in among the particular subjects upon which he is treating. While not a professional psychologist, Mr. Leland has given utterance to some of the most valuable and practical psychological truths of the last fifty years, his contributions to this branch of human thought is sure to be recognized and appreciated in the near future. It is hoped that this little book will carry some of his valuable precepts and ideas to many who have never had the advantage and pleasure of his acquaintance up to this time.
It is believed by the publisher that this popular edition of Mr. Leland's valuable work upon the Use of the Will, issued at a nominal price, will carry the author's teachings to the homes of many of those whom Lincoln called the "plain people" of this American land, who need it so much, but who would not have been able to have purchased it in its original shape. This work has been well known in England, but here, in America, the birthplace of the author, it has been comparatively unheard of. It is to be hoped that this edition will remedy this grievous fault.
April 11, 1907 THE PUBLISHER.
Introduction . . . 13
Chapter I.—Attention and Interest . . . 19
Chapter II.—Self-Suggestion . . . 28
Chapter III.—Will-Development . . . 34
Chapter IV.—Forethought . . . 48
Chapter V.—Will and Character . . . 58
Chapter VI.—Suggestion and Instinct . . . 66
Chapter VII.—Memory Culture . . . 74
Chapter VIII.—The Constructive Faculties . . . 81
Chapter IX.—Fascination . . . 85
Chapter X.—The Subliminal Self . . . 100
Chapter XI.—Paracelsus . . . 109
Chapter XII.—Last Words . . . 116
THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE.
During the past few years the most serious part of the author's study and reflection has been devoted to the subjects discussed in this book. These, briefly stated, are as follows: Firstly, that all mental or cerebral faculties can by direct scientific treatment be influenced to what would have once been regarded as miraculous action, and which is even yet very little known or considered. Secondly, in development of this theory, and as confirmed by much practical and personal experience, that the Will can by very easy processes of training, or by aid of Auto-Suggestion, be strengthened to any extent, and states of mind soon induced, which can be made by practice habitual. Thus, as a man can by means of opium produce sleep, so can he by a very simple experiment a few times repeated—an experiment which I clearly describe and which has been tested and verified beyond all denial—cause himself to remain during the following day in a perfectly calm or cheerful state of mind; and this condition may, by means of repetition and practice, be raised or varied to other states or conditions of a far more active or intelligent description.
Thus, for illustration, I may say that within my own experience, I have by this process succeeded since my seventieth year in working all day far more assiduously, and without any sense of weariness or distaste for labour, than I ever did at any previous period of my life. And the reader need only try the extremely easy experiment, as I have described it, to satisfy himself that he can do the same, that he can continue it with growing strength ad infinitum, and that this power will unquestionably at some future time be employed with marvellous results in Education. For, beyond all question—since any human being can easily prove or disprove it by a few experiments— there is no method known by which inattention, heedlessness, or negligence in the young can be so promptly and thoroughly cured as by this; while on the other hand, Attention and Interest by assiduity, are even more easily awakened. It has indeed seemed to me, since I have devoted myself to the study of Education from this point of view, as if it had been like the Iron Castle in the Slavonian legend, unto which men had for centuries wended their way by a long and wearisome road of many miles, while there was all the time, unseen and unknown, a very short and easy subterranean passage, by means of which the dwellers in the Schloss might have found their way to the town below, and to the world, in a few minutes.
To this I have added a succinct account of what is, I believe, the easiest and most comprehensive Art of Memory ever conceived. There are on this subject more than five hundred works, all based, without exception, on the Associative system, which may be described as a stream which runs with great rapidity for a very short time but is soon choked up. This, I believe, as a means applied to learning, was first published in my work, entitled Practical Education. In it the pupil is taught the direct method; that is, instead of remembering one thing by means of another, to impress the image itself on the memory, and frequently revive it. This process soon becomes habitual and very easy. In from one year to eighteen months a pupil can by means of it accurately recall a lecture or sermon. It has the immediate advantage, over all the associate systems, of increasing and enlarging the scope and vigour of the memory, or indeed of the mind, so that it may truly bear as a motto, Vires acquirit eundo—"it gains in power as it runs long."
Finally, I set forth a system of developing the Constructive Faculty— that which involves Ingenuity, Art, or manual making—as based on the teaching of the so-called Minor Arts to the young. The principle from which I proceed is that as the fruit is developed from the flower, all Technical Education should be anticipated. Or begun in children by practicing easy and congenial arts, such as light embroidery, wood-carving or repousse, by means of which they become familiar with the elements of more serious and substantial work. Having found out by practical experience, in teaching upwards of two thousand children for several years, that the practice of such easy work, or the development of the constructive faculty, invariably awakened the intellectual power or intelligence, I began to study the subject of the development of the mind in general. My first discovery after this was that Memory, whether mental, visual, or of any other kind, could, in connection with Art, be wonderfully improved, and to this in time came the consideration that the human Will, with all its mighty power and deep secrets, could be disciplined and directed, or controlled with as great care as the memory or the mechanical faculty. In a certain sense the three are one, and the reader who will take the pains, which are, I trust, not very great, to master the details of this book, will readily grasp it as a whole, and understand that its contents form a system of education, yet one from which the old as well as young may profit.
It is worth noting that, were it for nervous invalids alone, or those who from various causes find it difficult to sleep, or apply the mind to work, this book would be of unquestionable value. In fact, even while writing this chapter, a lady has called to thank me for the substantial benefit which she derived from my advice in this respect. And, mindful of the fact that Attention and Unwearied Perseverance are most necessary to succeed in such processes as are here described, I have taken pains to show or explain how they may be rendered more attractive, tolerable, and habitual to the fickle or light-minded; this, too, being a subject which has been very little considered from a practical point of view.
But, above all things, I beg the reader, laying aside all prejudice or preconceived opinion, and neither believing nor disbelieving what he reads, to simply try it—that is to test it in his own person to what degree he can influence his will, or bring about subsequent states of mind, by the very easy processes laid down. If I could hope that all opinion of my book would be uttered only by those who had thus put it to the test, I should be well assured as to its future.
And also I beg all readers, and especially reviewers, to note that I advise that the auto-suggestive process, by aid of sleep, shall be discontinued as soon as the experimenter begins to feel an increase in the power of the will; the whole object of the system being to acquire a perfectly free clear Will as soon as possible. Great injustice was done, as regards the first edition of this work, by a very careless though eminent critic, who blamed the author for not having done what the latter had carefully recommended in his book.
There are four stages of advance towards the truth: firstly, Disbelief; secondly, Doubt, which is, in fact, only a fond advance towards Disbelief; thirdly, Agnosticism, which is Doubt mingled with Inquiry; and, finally, pure and simple Inquiry or Search, without any preconceived opinion or feeling whatever. It is, I trust, only in the spirit of the latter, that I have written; therefore I say to the reader, Neither, believe nor disbelieve in anything which I have said, but, as it is an easy thing to try, experiment for yourself, and judge by the result. In fact, as a satisfactory and conclusive experiment will not require more time, and certainly not half the pains which most people would expend on reading a book, I shall be perfectly satisfied if any or all my critics will do so, and judge the system by the result.
"Unto many Fortune comes while sleeping."—Latin Proverb.
"Few know what is really going on in the world."— American Proverb.
It is but a few years since it suddenly struck the gay world of comic dramatists and other literary wits, that the Nineteenth Century was drawing to an end, and regarding it as an event they began to make merry over it, at first in Paris, and then in London and New York, as the fin-de-siecle. Unto them it was the going-out of old fashions in small things, such as changes in dress, the growth of wealth, or "the mighty bicycle," with a very prevalent idea that things "are getting mixed" or "checquered," or the old conditions of life becoming strangely confused. And then men of more thought or intelligence, looking more deeply into it, began to consider that the phrase did in very truth express far more serious facts. As in an old Norman tale, he who had entered as a jester or minstrel in comic garb, laid aside his disguise, and appeared as a wise counsellor or brave champion who had come to free the imprisoned emperor.
For it began to be seen that this fin-de-siecle was developing with startling rapidity changes of stupendous magnitude, which would ere long be seen "careering with thunder speed along," and that all the revolutions and reforms recorded in history were only feeble or partial, scattered or small, compared to the world-wide unification of human interests, led by new lights, which has begun to manifest itself in every civilized country. That well nigh every person or real culture, or education guided by pure science, has within a very few years advanced to a condition of liberal faith which would have been in my university days generally reprobated as "infidelity," is not to be denied, and the fact means, beyond all question, that according to its present rate of advance, in a very few years more, this reform will end in the annulling of innumerable traditions, forms of faith and methods. Upharsin is writ on the wall.
More than this, is it not clear that Art and Romance, Poetry and Literature, as hitherto understood or felt, are either to utterly vanish before the stupendous advances of science, or what is perhaps more probable, will, coalescing with it, take new forms, based on a general familiarity with all the old schools or types? A few years ago it seemed, as regarded all aesthetic creation, that man had exhausted the old models, and knew not where to look for new. Now the aim of Art is to interest or please, by gratifying the sense or taste for the beautiful or human genius in making; also to instruct and refine; and it is evident that Science is going to fulfill all these conditions on such a grand scale in so many new ways, that, when man shall be once engaged in them, all that once gratified him in the past will seem as childish things, to be put away before pursuits more worthy of manly dignity. If Art in all forms has of late been quiet, it has been because it has drawn back like the tiger in order to make the greater bound.
One of the causes why some are laying aside all old spiritualism, romance and sentiment, is that their realisation takes up too much time, and Science, which is the soul of business, seeks in all things brevity and directness. It is probable that the phrase, "but to the point," has been oftener repeated during the past few years, than it ever was before, since Time begun, of which directness I shall have more to say anon.
And this is the end to which these remarks on the fin-de-siecle were written, to lay stress upon the fact that with the year Nineteen Hundred we shall begin a century during which civilized mankind will attain its majority and become manly, doing that which is right as a man should, because it is right and for no other reason, and shunning wrong for as good cause. For while man is a child he behaves well, or misbehaves, for reasons such as the fear of punishment or hope of reward, but in a manly code no reasons are necessary but only a persuasion or conviction that anything is right or wrong, and a principle which is as the earth unto a seed.
For as the world is going on, or getting to be, it is very evident that as it is popularly said, "he who will tell a lie will generally not hesitate to commit perjury," so he who cannot be really honest, per se, without being sustained by principle based only on tradition and the opinion of others, is a poor creature, whose morality or honesty is in fact merely theatrical, or acted, to satisfy certain conditions or exigencies from which he were better freed.
This spirit of scientific directness, and economy of thought and trouble by making the principle of integrity the basis of all forms, and cutting all ethical theories down to "be good because you ought," is rapidly astonishing us with another marvellous fact which it illustrates, namely, that as in this axiom—as in man himself— there are latent undiscovered powers, so in a thousand other sayings, or things known to us all, used by us all, and regarded as common-place, there are astounding novelties and capacities as yet undreamed of. For, as very few moralists ever understood in full what is meant by the very much worn or hackneyed saying, "we ought to do what is right," so the world at large little suspects that such very desirable qualities as Attention, Interest, Memory and Ingenuity, have that within them which renders them far more attainable by man than has ever been supposed. Even the great problem of Happiness itself, as really being only one of a relative state of mind, may be solved or reached by some far simpler or more direct method than any thinker has ever suggested.
It all depends on exertion of the Will. There are in this world a certain number of advanced thinkers who, if they knew how to develope the Will which exists in them, could bring this reform to pass in an incredibly short time. That is to say, they could place the doctrine or religion of Honesty for its own sake so boldly and convincingly before the world that its future would be assured. Now the man who can develope his will, has it in his power not only to control his moral nature to any extent, but also to call into action or realize very extraordinary states of mind, that is, faculties, talents or abilities which he has never suspected to be within his reach. It is a stupendous thought; yes, one so great that from the beginning of time to the present day no sage or poet has ever grasped it in its full extent, and yet is is a very literal truth, that there lie hidden within us all, as in a sealed-up spiritual casket, or like the bottled-up djinn in the Arab tale, innumerable Powers or Intelligences, some capable of bestowing peace or calm, others of giving Happiness, or inspiring creative genius, energy and perseverance. All that Man has ever attributed to an Invisible World without, lies, in fact, within him, and the magic key which will confer the faculty of sight and the power to conquer is the Will.
It has always been granted that it is a marvellously good thing to have a strong will, or a determined or resolute mind, and great has been the writing thereon. I have by me the last book on the subject, in which the faculty is enthusiastically praised, and the reader is told through all the inflexions of sentiment, that he ought to assert his Will, to be vigorous in mind, etcetera, but unfortunately the How to do it is utterly wanting.
It will be generally admitted by all readers that this How to do it has been always sought in grandly heroic or sublimely vigorous methods of victory over self. The very idea of being resolute, brave, persevering or stubborn, awakens in us all thoughts of conflict or dramatic self-conquering. But it may be far more effectively attained in a much easier way, even as the ant climbed to the top of the tree and gnawed away and brought down the golden fruit unto which the man could not rise. There are easy methods, and by far the most effective, of awakening the Will; methods within the reach of every one, and which if practised, will lead on ad infinitum, to marvellous results.
The following chapters will be devoted to setting forth, I trust clearly and explicitly, how by an extremely easy process, or processes, the will may be, by any person of ordinary intelligence and perseverance, awakened and developed to any extent, and with it many other faculties or states of mind. I can remember once being told by a lady that she thought there ought to be erected in all great cities temples to the Will, so as to encourage mankind to develop the divine faculty. It has since occurred to me that an equal number of school-houses, however humble, in which the art of mastering the Will by easy processes seriatim should be taught, would be far more useful. Such a school-house is this work, and it is the hope of the author that all who enter, so to speak, or read it, will learn therefrom as much as he himself and others have done by studying its principles.
To recapitulate or make clear in brief what I intend, I would say Firstly, that the advanced thinkers at this end of the century, weary of all the old indirect methods of teaching Morality, are beginning to enquire, since Duty is an indispensable condition, whether it is not just as well to do what is right, because it is right, as for any other reason? Secondly, that this spirit of directness, the result of Evolution, is beginning to show itself in many other directions, as we may note by the great popularity of the answer to the question, "How not to worry," which is briefly, Don't! Thirdly, that enlightened by this spirit of scientific straightforwardness, man is ceasing to seek for mental truth by means of roundabout metaphysical or conventional ethical methods (based on old traditions and mysticism), and is looking directly in himself, or materially, for what Immaterialism or Idealism has really never explained at all—his discoveries having been within a few years much more valuable that all that a priori philosophy or psychology ever yielded since the beginning. And, finally, that the leading faculties or powers of the mind, such as Will, Memory, the Constructive faculty, and all which are subject to them, instead of being entirely mysterious "gifts," or inspirations bestowed on only a very few to any liberal extent, are in all, and may be developed grandly and richly by direct methods which are moreover extremely easy, and which are in accordance with the spirit of the age, being the legitimate results of Evolution and Science.
And, that I may not be misunderstood, I would say that the doctrine of Duty agrees perfectly with every form of religion—a man may be Roman Catholic, Church of England, Presbyterian, Agnostic, or what he will; and, if a form aids him in the least to be sincerely honest, it would be a pity for him to be without it. Truly there are degrees in forms, and where I live in Italy I am sorry to see so many abuses or errors in them. But to know and do what is right, when understood, is recognising God as nearly as man can know him, and to do this perfectly we require Will. It is the true Logos.
ATTENTION AND INTEREST.
"To the fairies, Determination and Good-Will, all things are possible."—The Man of the Family, by C. REID.
It happened recently to me, as I write, to see one afternoon lying on the side walk in the Via Calzaioli in Florence what I thought was a common iron screw, about three inches in length, which looked as if it had been dropped by some workman. And recalling the superstition that it is lucky to find such an object, or a nail, I picked it up, when to my astonishment I found that it was a silver pencil case, but made to exactly resemble a screw. Hundreds of people had, perhaps, seen it, thought they knew all about it, or what it was, and then passed it by, little suspecting its real value.
There is an exact spiritual parallel for this incident or parable of the screw-pencil in innumerable ideas, at which well-nigh everybody in the hurrying stream of life has glanced, yet no one has ever examined, until someone with a poetic spirit of curiosity, or inspired by quaint superstition, pauses, picks one up, looks into it, and finds that It has ingenious use, and is far more than it appeared to be. Thus, if I declare that by special attention to a subject, earnestly turning it over and thinking deeply into it, very remarkable results may be produced, as regards result in knowledge, every human being will assent to it as the veriest truism ever uttered; in the fullest belief that he or she assuredly knows all that.
Yet it was not until within a very few years that I discovered that this idea, which seemed so commonplace, had within it mysteries and meanings which were stupendously original or remarkable. I found that there was a certain intensity or power of attention, far surpassing ordinary observation, which we may, if we will, summon up and force on ourselves, just as we can by special effort see or hear far better at times than usually. The Romans show by such a phrase as animum adjicere, and numerous proverbs and synonyms, that they had learned to bend their attention energetically. They were good listeners, therefore keen observers.
Learning to control or strengthen the Will is closely allied to developing Attention and Interest, and for reasons which will soon be apparent, I will first consider the latter, since they constitute a preparation or basis for the former. And as preliminary, I will consider the popular or common error to the effect that everyone has alloted to him or to her just so much of the faculty of attention or interest as it has pleased Nature to give—the same being true as regards Memory, Will, the Constructive or Artistic abilities, and so on—when in very truth and on the warrant of Experience all may be increased ad infinitum. Therefore, we find ignorant men complacently explaining their indifference to art and literature or culture on the ground that they take no interest in such subjects, as if interest were a special heaven-sent gift. Who has not heard the remark, "He or she takes such an interest in so many things—I wish that I could." Or, as I heard it very recently expressed, "It must be delightful to be able to interest one's self in something at any time." Which was much the same as the expression of the Pennsylvania German girl, "Ach Gott! I wisht I hat genius und could make a pudden!"
No one can be expected to take an interest at once and by mere will in any subject, but where an earnest and serious Attention has been directed to it, Interest soon follows. Hence it comes that those who deliberately train themselves in Society after the precept enforced by all great writers of social maxims to listen politely and patiently, are invariably rewarded by acquiring at last shrewd intelligence, as is well known to diplomatists. That mere stolid patience subdues impatience sounds like a dull common-place saying, but it is a silver pencil disguised as an iron screw; there is a deep subtlety hidden in it, if it be allowed with a little intelligence, forethought, and determination towards a purpose. Let us now consider the mechanical and easy processes by which attention may be awakened.
According to ED. VON HARTMANN, Attention is either spontaneous or reflex. The voluntary fixing our mind upon, or choosing an idea, image, or subject, is spontaneous attention, but when the idea for some reason impresses itself upon us then we have enforced, or reflex attention. That is simply to say, there is active or passive observation—the things which we seek or which come to us unsought. And the "seeking for," or spontaneous action can be materially aided and made persevering, if before we begin the search or set about devoting Attention to anything, we pause, as it were, to determine or resolve that we will be thorough, and not leave off until we shall have mastered it. For strange as it may seem, the doing this actually has in most cases a positive, and very often a remarkable result, as the reader may very easily verify for himself. This Forethought is far more easily awakened, or exerted, than Attention itself, but it prepares it, just as Attention prepares Interest.
Attention is closely allied to Memory; when we would give attention to a subject for continued consideration, we must "memorize" it, or it will vanish. Involuntary memory excited by different causes often compels us to attend to many subjects whether we will or not. Everyone has been haunted with images or ideas even unto being tormented by them; there are many instances in which the Imagination has given them objective form, and they have appeared visibly to the patient. These haunting ideas, disagreeable repetitions or obstinate continuances, assume an incredible variety of forms, and enter in many strange ways into life. Monomania or the being possessed with one idea to the exclusion of others, is a form of overstrained attention, sustained by memory. It is enforced.
Mere repetition of anything to almost anybody, will produce remarkable results; or a kind of Hypnotism Causing the patient to yield to what becomes an irresistible power. Thus it is said that perpetual dropping will wear away stones. Dr. JAMES R. COCKE in his "Hypnotism," in illustrating this, speaks of a man who did not want to sign a note, he knew that it was folly to do so, but yielded from having been "over persuaded." I have read a story in which a man was thus simply talked into sacrificing his property. The great power latent in this form of suggestiveness is well known to knaves in America where it is most employed. This is the whole secret of the value of advertising. People yield to the mere repetition in time. Attention and Interest may in this way be self-induced from repetition.
It is true that an image or idea may be often repeated to minds which do not think or reflect, without awakening attention; per contra, the least degree of thought in a vast majority of cases forms a nucleus, or beginning, which may easily be increased to an indefinite extent. A very little exercise of the Will suffices in most cases to fix the attention on a subject, and how this can be done will be shown in another chapter. But in many cases Attention is attracted with little or no voluntary effort. On this fact is based the truth that when or where it is desired, Attention and Interest may be awakened with great ease by a simple process.
It may be remarked on the subject of repetition of images or ideas, that a vast proportion of senseless superstitions, traditions or customs, which no one can explain, originate in this way, and that in fact what we call habit (which ranks as second nature) is only another form or result of involuntary attention and the unconsciously giving a place in the memory to what we have heard.
From the simple fact that even a man of plain common-sense and strong will may be driven to sleeplessness, or well nigh to madness, by the haunting presence of some wretched trifle, some mere jingle or rhyme, or idle memory, we may infer that we have here a great power which must in some way be capable of being led to great or useful results by some very easy process. I once wrote a sketch, never completed, in which I depicted a man of culture who, having lost an old manuscript book which he had regarded in a light, semi-incredulous manner as a fetish, or amulet, on which his luck depended, began to be seriously concerned, and awaking to the fact, deliberately cultivated his alarm as a psychological study, till he found himself, even with his eyes wide open as an observer in terrible fear, or a semi-monomaniac. The recovery of his lost charm at once relieved him. This was a diversion of Attention for a deliberate purpose, which might have been varied ad infinitum to procure very useful results. But I have myself known a man in the United States, who, having lost—he being an actor or performer—a certain article of theatrical properties on which he believed "luck" depended, lost all heart and hope, and fell into a decline, from which he never recovered. In this, as in all such cases, it was not so much conviction or reason which influenced the sufferer as the mere effect of Attention often awakened till it had become what is known as a fixed idea.
A deliberate reflection on what I have here advanced can hardly fail to make it clear to any reader that if he really desires to take an interest in any subject, it is possible to do so, because Nature has placed in every mind vast capacity for attention or fixing ideas, and where the Attention is fixed, Interest, by equally easy process, may always be induced to follow. And note that these preliminary preparations should invariably be as elementary and easy as possible, this being a condition which it is impossible to exaggerate. In a vast majority of cases people who would fain be known as taking an interest in Art begin at the wrong end, or in the most difficult manner possible, by running through galleries where they only acquire a superficial knowledge of results, and learn at best how to talk showily about what they have skimmed. Now to this end a good article in a cyclopaedia, or a small treatise like that of TAINE'S "AEsthetic" thoroughly read and re-read, till it be really mastered, and then verified by study of a very few good pictures in a single collection, will do more to awaken sincere interest than the loose ranging through all the exhibitions in the world. I have read in many novels thrilling descriptions of the effect and results when all the glories of the Louvre or Vatican first burst upon some impassioned and unsophisticated youth, who from that moment found himself an Artist— but I still maintain that it would have been a hundred times better for him had his Attention and Interest been previously attracted to a few pictures, and his mind accustomed to reflect on them.
Be the subject in which we would take an interest artistic or scientific, literary or social, the best way to begin herewith is to carefully read the simplest and easiest account of it which we can obtain, in order that we may know just exactly what it is, or its definition. And this done, let the student at once, while the memory is fresh in mind, follow it up by other research or reading, observations or inquiries, on the same subject, for three books read together on anything will profit more than a hundred at long intervals. In fact, a great deal of broken, irregular or disjointed reading is often as much worse than none at all, as a little coherent study is advantageous.
Many people would very willingly take an interest in many subjects if they knew how. It is a melancholy thing to see a man retired from business with literally nothing to do but fritter away his time on nothings when he might be employed at something absorbing and useful. But they hesitate to act because, as is the rule in life, they see everything from its most difficult and repulsive side. There is no man who could not easily take an intelligent interest in Art in some form, but I venture to say that a majority of even educated people who had never taken up the subject would be appalled at it in their secret hearts, or distrust its "use" or their own capacity to master it. Or again, many put no faith in easy manuals to begin with, believing, in their ignorance, that a mere collection of rudiments cannot have much in it. We are all surrounded by thousands of subjects in which we might all take an interest, and do good work, if we would, selecting one, give it a little attention, and by easy process proceed to learn it. As it is, in general society the man or woman who has any special pursuit, accomplishment, or real interest for leisure hours, beyond idle gossip and empty time-killing, is a great exception. And yet I sincerely believe that in perhaps a majority of cases there is a sincere desire to do something, which is killed by simple ignorance of the fact that with a very little trouble indeed interest in something is within the easy reach of all.
I have dwelt on this subject that the reader may be induced to reflect on the fact, firstly, that if he wishes to learn how to develop his Will and strengthen it, it is absolutely necessary to take an interest in it. I beg him to consider how this art of acquiring attention and interest has been, or is, obscured in most minds, and the difficulties of acquiring it, exaggerated. Secondly, I would point out that the method of process for making a Will is so closely allied to that laid down for Attention that it will seem like a deduction from it, both being allied to what may claim to be an original Art of Memory, to which I shall devote a chapter in its due place.
For as I hope clearly to prove it is an easy matter to create a strong will, or strengthen that which we have, to a marvelous extent, yet he who would do this must first give his Attention firmly and fixedly to his intent or want, for which purpose it is absolutely necessary that he shall first know his own mind regarding what he means to do, and therefore meditate upon it, not dreamily, or vaguely, but earnestly. And this done he must assure himself that he takes a real interest in the subject, since if such be the case I may declare that his success is well nigh certain.
And here it may be observed that if beginners, before taking up any pursuit, would calmly and deliberately consider the virtues of Attention and Interest, and how to acquire them, or bring them to bear on the proposed study or work, we should hear much less of those who had "begun German" without learning it, or who failed in any other attempt. For there would in very truth be few failures in life if those who undertake anything first gave to it long and careful consideration by leading observation into every detail, and, in fact, becoming familiar with the idea, and not trusting to acquire interest and perseverance in the future. Nine-tenths of the difficulty and doubt or ill-at-easeness which beginners experience, giving them the frightened feeling of "a cat in a strange garret," and which often inspires them to retreat, is due entirely to not having begun by training the Attention or awakened an Interest in the subject.
It has often seemed to me that the reason for failure, or the ultimate failing to attain success, in a vast number of "Faith cures," is simply because the people who seek them, being generally of a gushing, imaginative nature, are lacking in deep reflection, application, or earnest attention. They are quick to take hold, and as quick to let go. Therefore, they are of all others the least likely to seriously reflect beforehand on the necessity of preparing the mind to patience and application. Now it seems a simple thing to say, and it is therefore all the harder to understand, that before going to work at anything which will require perseverance and repeated effort we can facilitate the result amazingly by thinking over and anticipating it, so that when the weariness comes it will not be as a discouraging novelty, but as something of course, even as a fisherman accepts his wet feet, or the mosquitoes. But how this disposition to grow weary of work or to become inattentive may be literally and very completely conjured away will be more fully explained in another chapter. For this let it suffice to say that earnest forethought, and the more of it the better, bestowed on aught which we intend to undertake, is a thing rarely attempted in the real sense in which I mean it, but which, when given, eases every burden and lightens every toil.
Mere forethought repeated is the easiest of mental efforts. Yet even a little of it asserted before undertaking a task will wonderfully facilitate the work.
"Hypnotism," says Dr. JAMES R. COCKE, "can be used to train the attention of persons habitually inattentive." But, in fact, forethinking in any way is the minor or initiatory stage of Suggestion. Both are gradual persuasion of the nervous system into habit.
And on this text a marvelous sermon could be preached, which, if understood, would sink deeply into every heart, inspiring some while alarming others, but greatly cheering the brave. And it is this. There are millions of people who suffer from irritability, want of self-control, loquacity, evil in many forms, or nerves, who would fain control themselves and stop it all. Moralists think that for this it is enough to convince their reason. But this rarely avails. A man may know that he is wrong, yet not be able to reform. Now, what he wants is to have his attention fixed long enough to form a new habit. Find out how this can be done, and it may in many cases be the simplest and most mechanical thing in the world to cure him. Men have been frightened by a scarecrow into thorough repentance. "A question of a few vibrations of ether, more or less, makes for us all the difference between perception and non-perception," or between sight and blindness. Accustom any such moral invalid to being Suggested or willed a few times into a calm, self-controlled state and the habit may be formed.
And to those who doubt, and perhaps would sneer, I have only to say try it. It will do them good.
"In thy soul, as in a sleep, Gods or fiends are hidden deep, Awful forms of mystery, And spirits, all unknown to thee: Guard with prayer, and heed with care, Ere thou wak'st them from their lair!"
The records of the human race, however written, show that Man has always regarded himself as possessed of latent faculties, or capacities of a mysterious or extraordinary nature: that is to say, transcending in scope or power anything within the range of ordinary conscious mental capacity. Such for example is the Dream, in which there occurs such a mingling of madness with mysterious intuitions or memories that it is no wonder it has always been regarded as allied to supernatural intelligence. And almost as general as the faith in dreams as being weird (in the true sense of the much-abused word) or "strangely prophetic," is that in fascination, or that one human being can exercise over another by a mystic will and power a strong influence, even to the making the patient do whatever the actor or superior requires.
However interesting it may be, it is quite needless for the purpose which I have in view to sketch the history of occultism, magic or sorcery from the earliest times to the present day. Fascination was, however, its principal power, and this was closely allied to, or the parent of, what is now known as Suggestion in Hypnotism. But ancient magic in its later days certainly became very much mixed with magnetism in many phases, and it is as an off-shoot of Animal Magnetism that Hypnotism is now regarded, which is to be regretted, since it is in reality radically different from it, as several of the later writers of the subject are beginning to protest. The definition and differences of the two are as follows: Animal Magnetism, first formulized by ANTON MESMER from a mass of more or less confused observations by earlier writers, was the doctrine that there is a magnetic fluid circulating in all created forms, capable of flux and reflux, which is specially active or potent in the human body. Its action may be concentrated or increased by the human will, so as to work wonders, one of which is to cause a person who is magnetized by another to obey the operator, this obedience being manifested in many very strange ways.
Still there were thousands of physiologists or men of science who doubted the theory of the action or existence of Animal Magnetism, and the vital fluid, as declared by the Mesmerists, and they especially distrusted the marvels narrated of clairvoyance, which was too like the thaumaturgy or wonder-working attributed to the earlier magicians. Finally, the English scientist, BRAID, determined that it was not a magnetic fluid which produced the recognized results, "but that they were of purely subjective origin, depending on the nervous system of the one acted on." That is to say, in ordinary language, it was "all imagination"—but here, as in many other cases, a very comprehensive and apparently common-sensible word is very far from giving an adequate or correct idea of the matter in question—for what the imagination itself really is in this relation is a mystery which is very difficult to solve. I have heard of an old French gentleman who, when in a circus, expressed an opinion that there was nothing remarkable in the wonderful performances of an acrobat on a tight-rope, or trapeze. "Voyez-vous monsieur" he exclaimed; "Ce n'est que la mathematique—rien que ca!" And only the Imagination—"all your Imagination" is still the universal solvent in Philistia for all such problems.
Hypnotism reduced to its simplest principle is, like the old Fascination, the action of mind upon mind, or of a mind upon itself, in such a manner as to produce a definite belief, action, or result. It is generally effected by first causing a sleep, as is done in animal magnetism, during which the subject implicitly obeys the will of the operator, or performs whatever he suggests. Hence arose the term Suggestion, implying that what the patient takes into his head to do, or does, must first be submitted to his own mental action.
Very remarkable results are thus achieved. If the operator, having put a subject to sleep (which he can do in most cases, if he be clever, and the experiments are renewed often enough), will say or suggest to him that on the next day, or the one following, or, in fact, any determined time, he shall visit a certain friend, or dance a jig, or wear a given suit of clothes, or the like, he will, when the hypnotic sleep is over, have forgotten all about it. But when the hour indicated for his call or dance, or change of garment arrives, he will be haunted by such an irresistible feeling that he must do it; that in most cases it will infallibly be done. It is no exaggeration to say that this has been experimented on, tested and tried thousands of times with success and incredible ingenuity in all kinds of forms and devices. It would seem as if spontaneous attention went to sleep, but, like an alarm clock, awoke at the fixed hour, and then reflex action.
Again—and this constitutes the chief subject of all I here discuss— we can suggest to ourselves so as to produce the same results. It seems to be a curious law of Nature that if we put an image or idea into our minds with the preconceived determination or intent that it shall recur or return at a certain time, or in a certain way, after sleeping, it will do so. And here I beg the reader to recall what I said regarding the resolving to begin any task, that it can be greatly aided by even a brief pre-determination. In all cases it is a kind of self-suggestion. There would seem to be some magic virtue in sleep, as if it preserved and ripened our wishes, hence the injunction in the proverbs of all languages to sleep over a resolve, or subject—and that "night brings counsel."
It is not necessary that this sleep shall be hypnotic, or what is called hypnotic slumber, since, according to very good authorities, there is grave doubt as to whether the so-called condition is a sleep at all. Hypnotism is at any rate a suspension of the faculties, resembling sleep, caused by the will and act of the operator. He effects this by fixing the eyes on the patient, making passes as in Mesmerism, giving a glass of water, or simply commanding sleep. And this, as Dr. COCKE has experienced and described, can be produced to a degree by anyone on himself. But as I have verified by experiment, if we, after retiring to rest at night, will calmly yet firmly resolve to do something on the following day, or be as much as possible in a certain state of mind, and if we then fall into ordinary natural sleep, just as usual, we may on waking have forgotten all about it, yet will none the less feel the impulse and carry out the determination.
What gives authority for this assertion, for which I am indebted originally to no suggestion or reading, is the statement found in several authorities that a man can "hypnotize" another without putting him to sleep; that is, make him unconsciously follow suggestion.
I had read in works on hypnotism of an endless number of experiments, how patients were made to believe that they were monkeys or madmen, or umbrellas, or criminals, women or men, a volonte, but in few of them did I find that it had ever occurred to anybody to turn this wonderful power of developing the intellect to any permanent benefit, or to increasing the moral sense. Then it came to my mind since Self-Suggestion was possible that if I would resolve to work all the next day; that is, apply myself to literary or artistic labor without once feeling fatigue, and succeed, it would be a marvelous thing for a man of my age. And so it befell that by making an easy beginning I brought it to pass to perfection. What I mean by an easy beginning is not to will or resolve too vehemently, but to simply and very gently, yet assiduously, impress the idea on the mind so as to fall asleep while thinking of it as a thing to be. My next step was to will that I should, all the next day, be free from any nervous or mental worry, or preserve a hopeful, calm, or well-balanced state of mind. This led to many minute and extremely curious experiences and observations. That the imperturbable or calm state of mind promptly set in was undeniable, but it often behaved, like the Angel in H. G. Wells' novel, "The Wonderful Visit," as if somewhat frightened at, or of, with, or by its new abode, and no wonder, for it was indeed a novel guest, and the goblins of "Worry and Tease, Fidget and Fear," who had hitherto been allowed to riot about and come and go at their own sweet mischievous wills, were ill-pleased at being made to keep quiet by this new lady of the manor. And indeed no mere state of mind, however well maintained, can resist everything, and the mildest mannered man may cut a throat under great provocation. I had my lapses, but withal I was simply astonished to find how, by perseverance, habitual calm not only grew on me, but how decidedly it increased. I most assuredly have experienced it to such a degree as to marvel that the method is not more employed as a cure for nervous suffering and insomnia.
But far beyond perseverance in labor, or the inducing a calmer and habitually restful state of mind, was the Awakening of the Will, which I found as interesting as any novel or drama, or series of active adventures which I have ever read or experienced. I can remember when most deeply engaged in it, re-reading DE QUINCEY'S "Confessions of an Opium Eater." I took it by chance on my birthday, August 15, which was also his, and as I read I longed from my very heart that he were alive, that I might consult with him on the marvelous Fairyland which it seemed to me had been discovered—and then I remembered how Dr. TUCKEY, the leading English hypnotist, had once told me how easy it was for his science to completely cure the mania for opium and other vices.
And this is the discovery: Resolve before going to sleep that if there be anything whatever for you to do which requires Will or Resolution, be it to undertake repulsive or hard work or duty, to face a disagreeable person, to fast, or make a speech, to say "No" to anything; in short, to keep up to the mark or make any kind of effort that you WILL do it—as calmly and unthinkingly as may be. Do not desire to do it sternly or forcibly, or in spite of obstacles—but simply and coolly make up your mind to do it—and it will much more likely be done. And it is absolutely true—crede experto—that if persevered in, this willing yourself to will by easy impulse unto impulse given, will lead to marvelous and most satisfactory results.
There is one thing of which the young or oversanguine or heedless should be warned. Do not expect from self-suggestion, nor anything else in this life, prompt perfection, or the maximum of success. You may pre-determine to be cheerful, but if you are very susceptible to bad weather, and the day should be dismal, or you should hear of the death of a friend, or a great disaster of any kind, some depression of spirits must ensue. On the other hand, note well that forming habit by frequent repetition of willing yourself to equanimity and cheerfulness, and also to the banishing of repulsive images when they come, will infallibly result in a very much happier state of mind. As soon as you actually begin to realize that you are acquiring such control remember that is the golden hour—and redouble your efforts. Perseverando vinces.
I have, I trust, thus far in a few words explained to the reader the rationale of a system of mental discipline based on the will, and how by a very easy process the latter may, like Attention and Interest, be gradually awakened. As I have before declared, everyone would like to have a strong or vigorous will, and there is a library of books or sermons in some form, exhorting the weak to awaken and fortify their wills or characters, but all represent it as a hard and vigorous process, akin to "storm and stress," battle and victory, and none really tell us how to go about it. I have indeed only indicated that it is by self-suggestion that the first steps are taken. Let us now consider the early beginning of the art or science ere discussing further developments.
"Ce domaine de la Suggestion est immense. Il n'y a pas un seul fait de notre vie mentale qui ne puisse etre reproduit et exagere artificiellement par ce moyen."—Binet et Frere, Le Magnetisme Animal.
Omitting the many vague indications in earlier writers, as well as those drawn from ancient Oriental sources, we may note that POMPONATIUS or POMPONAZZO, an Italian, born in 1462, declared in a work entitled De naturalium effectuum admirandorum Causis seu de Incantationibus, that to cure disease it was necessary to use a strong will, and that the patient should have a vigorous imagination and much faith in the prae cantator. PARACELSUS asserted the same thing in many passages directly and indirectly. He regarded medicine as magic and the physician as a wizard who should by a powerful will act on the imagination of the patient. But from some familiarity with the works of PARACELSUS—the first folio of the first full edition is before me as I write—I would say that it would be hard to declare what his marvelous mind did not anticipate in whatever was allied to medicine and natural philosophy. Thus I have found that long before VAN HELMONT, who has the credit of the discovery, PARACELSUS knew how to prepare silicate of soda, or water-glass.
Hypnotism as practiced at the present day, and with regard to its common results, was familiar to JOHANN JOSEPH GASSNER, a priest in Suabia, of whom LOUIS FIGUIER writes as follows in his Histoire du Merveilleux dans les Temps Modernes, published in 1860:
"GASSNER, like the Englishman VALENTINE GREAT-RAKES, believed himself called by divine inspiration to cure diseases. According to the precept of proper charity he began at home—that is to say on himself. After being an invalid for five or six years, and consulting, all in vain, many doctors, and taking their remedies all for naught, the idea seized him that such an obstinate malady as his must have some supernatural evil origin, or in other words, that he was possessed by a demon.
"Therefore he conjured this devil of a disorder, in the name of Jesus Christ to leave him—so it left, and the good GASSNER has put it on record that for sixteen years after he enjoyed perfect health and never had occasion for any remedy, spiritual or otherwise.
"This success made him reflect whether all maladies could not be cured by exorcism . . . The experiment which he tried on the invalids of his parish were so successful that his renown soon opened through all Suabia, and the regions roundabout. Then he began to travel, being called for everywhere."
GASSNER was so successful that at Ratisbon he had, it is said, 6,000 patients of all ranks encamped in tents. He cured by simply touching with his hands. But that in which he appears original was that he not only made his patients sleep or become insensible by ordering them to do so but caused them to raise their arms and legs, tremble, feel any kind of pain, as is now done by the hypnotist. "'In a young lady of good family' he caused laughter and weeping, stiffness of the limbs, absence of sight and hearing, and anaesthesia so as to make the pulse beat at his will."
M. FIGUIER and others do not seem to have been aware that a century before GASSNER, a PIETRO PIPERNO of Naples published a book in which there was a special exorcism or conjurations, as he calls them, for every known disorder, and that this possibly gave the hint for a system of cure to the Suabian. I have a copy of this work, which is extremely rare, it having been put on the Roman prohibited list, and otherwise suppressed. But GASSNER himself was suppressed ere long, because the Emperor, Joseph II, cloistered—that is to say, imprisoned him for life in the Monastery of Pondorf, near Ratisbon. One must not be too good or Apostle-like or curative—even in the Church, which discourages trop de zele.
But the general accounts of GASSNER give the impression, which has not been justly conveyed, that he owed his remarkable success in curing himself and others not to any kind of theory nor faith in magnetism, or in religion, so much as unconscious suggestion, aided by a powerful Will which increased with successes. To simply pray to be cured of an illness, or even to be cured by prayer, was certainly no novelty to any Catholic or Protestant in those days. The very nature of his experiments in making many people perform the same feats which are now repeated by hypnotizers, and which formed no part of a religious cure, indicate clearly that he was an observer of strange phenomena or a natural philosopher. I have seen myself an Egyptian juggler in Boulak perform many of these as professed tricks, and I do not think it was from any imitation of French clairvoyance. He also pretended that it was by an exertion of his Will, aided by magic forms which he read from a book, that he made two boys obey him. It was probably for these tricks which savored of magic that GASSNER was "retired."
Having in the previous pages indicated the general method by which Will may be awakened and strengthened, that the reader may as soon as possible understand the simple principle of action, I will now discuss more fully the important topic of influencing and improving our mental powers by easily induced Attention, or attention guided by simple Foresight, and pre-resolution aided by simple auto or self-suggestion. And I believe, with reason, that by these very simple processes (which have not hitherto been tested that I am aware of by any writer in the light in which I view them); the Will, which is the power of all powers and the mainspring of the mind, can be by means of persuasion increased or strengthened ad infinitum.
It is evident that GASSNER'S method partakes in equal proportions of the principles of the well-known "Faith Cure," and that of the Will, or of the passive and the active. What is wanting in it is self-knowledge and the very easily awakened forethought which, when continued, leads to far greater and much more certain results. Forethought costs little exertion: it is so calmly active that the weakest minds can employ it; but wisely employed it can set tremendous force in action.
As regards GASSNER, it is admissible that many more cures of disease can be effected by what some vaguely call the Imagination, and others Mental Action, than is generally supposed. Science now proves every year, more and more, that diseases are allied, and that they can be reached through the nervous system. In the celebrated correspondence between KANT and HUFELAND there is almost a proof that incipient gout can be cured by will or determination. But if a merely temporary or partial cure can really be obtained, or a cessation from suffering, if the ill be really curable at all, it is but reasonable to assume that by continuing the remedy or system, the relief will or must correspond to the degree of "faith" in the patient. And this would infallibly be the case if the sufferer had the will. But unfortunately the very people who are most frequently relieved are those of the impulsive imaginative kind, who "soon take hold and soon let go," or who are merely attracted by a sense of wonder which soon loses its charm, and so they react.
Therefore if we cannot only awaken the Will, but also keep it alive, it is very possible that we may not only effect great and thorough cures of diseases, but also induce whatever state of mind we please. This may be effected by the action of the minds or wills of others on our own, which influence can be gradually transferred from the operator to the patient himself, as when in teaching a boy to swim the master holds the pupil up until the latter finds that he is unconsciously moving by his own exertion.
What the fickle and "nervous" patients of any kind need is to have the idea kept before their minds continuously. They generally rush into a novelty without Forethought. Therefore they should be trained or urged to forethink or reflect seriously and often on the cure or process proposed. This is the setting of the nail, which is to be driven in by suggestion. The other method is where we act entirely for ourselves both as regards previous preparation and subsequent training.
I here repeat, since the whole object of the book is that certain facts shall be deeply and clearly impressed on the reader's mind, that if we will that a certain idea shall recur to us on the following, or any other day, and if we bring the mind to bear upon it just before falling asleep, it may be forgotten when we awake, but it will recur to us when the time comes. This is what almost everybody has proved, that if we resolve to awake at a certain hour we generally do so; if not the first time, after a few experiments, apropos of which I would remark that "no one should ever expect full success from any first experiment."
Now it is certainly true that we all remember or recall certain things to be done at certain hours, even if we have a hundred other thoughts in the interval. But it would seem as if by some law which we do not understand Sleep or repose acted as a preserver and reviver, nay, as a real strengthener of Thoughts, inspiring them with a new spirit. It would seem, too, as if they came out of Dreamland, as the children in TIECK'S story did out of Fairyland, with new lives. This is, indeed, a beautiful conception, and I may remark that I will in another place comment on the curious fact that we can add to and intensify ideas by thus passing them through our minds in sleep.
Just by the same process as that which enables us to awake at a given hour, and simply by substituting other ideas for that of time, can we acquire the ability to bring upon ourselves pre-determined or desired states of mind. This is Self-Suggestion or deferred determination, be it with or without sleep. It becomes more certain in its result with every new experiment or trial. The great factor in the whole is perseverance or repetition. By faith we can remove mountains, by perseverance we can carry them away, and the two amount to precisely the same thing.
And here be it noted what, I believe, no writer has ever before observed, that as perseverance depends on renewed forethought and reflection, so by continued practice and thought, in self-suggestion, the one practicing begins to find before long that his conscious will is acting more vigorously in his waking hours, and that he can finally dispense with the sleeping process. For, in fact, when we once find that our will is really beginning to obey us, and inspire courage or indifference where we were once timid, there is no end to the confidence and power which may ensue.
Now this is absolutely true. A man may will certain things ere he falls asleep. This willing should not be intense, as the old animal magnetizers taught; it ought rather to be like a quiet, firm desire or familiarization with what we want, often gently repeated till we fall asleep in it. So the seeker wills or wishes that he shall, during all the next day, feel strong and vigorous, hopeful, energetic, cheerful, bold or calm or peaceful. And the result will be obtained just in proportion to the degree in which the command or desire has impressed the mind, or sunk into it.
But, as I have said: Do not expect that all of this will result from a first trial. It may even be that those who succeed very promptly will be more likely to give out in the end than those who work up from small beginnings. The first step may very well be that of merely selecting some particular object and calmly or gently, yet determinedly directing the mind to it, to be recalled at a certain hoar. Repeat the experiment, if successful add to it something else. Violent effort is unadvisable, yet mere repetition without thought is time lost. Think while willing what it is you want, and above all, if you can, think with a feeling that the idea is to recur to you.
This acting or working two thoughts at once may be difficult for some readers to understand, though all writers on the brain illustrate it. It may be formulated thus: "I wish to remember tomorrow at four o'clock to visit my bookseller—bookseller's—four o'clock—four o'clock." But with practice the two will become as one conception.
When the object of a state of mind, as, for instance, calmness all day long, is obtained, even partially, the operator (who must, of course, do all to help himself to keep calm, should he remember his wish) will begin to believe in himself sincerely, or in the power of his will to compel a certain state of mind. This won, all may be won, by continued reflection and perseverance. It is the great step gained, the alphabet learned, by which the mind may pass to boundless power.
It may be here interesting to consider some of the states of mind into which a person may be brought by hypnotism. When subject to the will of an operator the patient may believe anything—that he is a mouse or a girl, drunk or inspired. The same may result from self-hypnotism by artificial methods which appeal powerfully to the imagination. According to Dr. JAMES R. COCKE many of his patients could induce this by looking at any bright object, a bed of coals, or at smooth running water. It is, of course, to be understood that it is not merely by looking that hypnotism is induced. There must be will or determinate thought; but when once brought about it is easily repeated.
"They have the ability," writes Dr. COCKE, "to resist this state or bring it on at will. Many of them describe beautiful scenes from Nature, or some mighty cathedral with its lofty dome, or the faces of imaginary beings." This writer's own first experience of self-hypnotism was very remarkable. He had been told by a hypnotizer to keep the number twenty-six in his mind. He did so, and after hearing a ringing in his ears and then a strange roaring he felt that spirits were all round him—music sounding and a sensation as of expanding.
But self-hypnotizing, by the simple easy process of trusting to ordinary sleep, is better adapted to action delayed, or states of mind. These may be:
A desire to be at peace or perfectly calm. After a few repetitions it will be found that, though irritating accidents may countervene, the mind will recur more and more to calm.
To feel cheerful or merry.
To be in a brave, courageous, hearty or vigorous mood.
To work hard without feeling weary. This I have fully tested with success, and especially mention it for the benefit of students. All of my intimate friends can certify what I here assert.
To keep the faculty of quickness of perception alert, as, for instance, when going out to perceive more than usual in a crowd. A botanist or mineralogist may awaken the faculty with the hope of observing or finding with success.
To be susceptible to beauty, as, for instance, when visiting a scene or gallery. In such cases it means to derive Attention from Will. The habitually trained Forethought or Attention is here a great aid to perception.
To read or study keenly and observantly. This is a faculty which can be very much aided by forethought and self-suggestion.
To forgive and forget enemies and injuries. Allied to it is the forgetting and ignoring of all things which annoy, vex, harrass, tease or worry us in any way whatever. To expect perfect immunity in this respect from the unavoidable ills of life is absurd; but having paid great attention to the subject, and experimented largely on it, I cannot resist declaring that it seems to me in very truth that no remedy for earthly suffering was yet discovered equal to this. I generally put the wish into this form: "I will forget and forgive all causes of enmity and anger, and should they arise I determine at once to cast them aside." It is a prayer, as it were, to the Will to stand by me, and truly the will is Deus in nobis to those who believe that God helps those who help themselves. For as we can get into the fearful state of constantly recalling all who have ever vexed or wronged us, or nursing the memory of what we hate or despise, until our minds are like sewers or charnel-houses of dead and poisonous things, so we can resolutely banish them, at first by forethought, then by suggestion, and finally by waking will. And verily there are few people living who would not be the better for such exercise. Many there are who say that they would fain forget and be serene, yet cannot. I do not believe this. We can all exorcise our devils—all of them—if we will.
To restrain irritability in our intercourse with others. It will not be quite sufficient as regards controlling the temper to merely will, or wish to subdue it. We must also will that when the temptation arises it may be preceded by forethought or followed by regret. As it often happens to a young soldier to be frightened or run away the first time he is under fire, and yet learn courage in the future, so the aspirant resolved to master his passions must not doubt because he finds that the first step slips. Apropos of which I would note that in all the books on Hypnotism that I have read their authors testify to a certain false quantity or amount of base alloy in the most thoroughly suggested patients. Something of modesty, something of a moral conscience always remains. Thus, as Dr. COCKE declares, Hypnotism has not succeeded in cases suffering from what are called imperative conceptions, or irresistible belief. "Cases suffering from various imperative conceptions are, while possessing their reasons, either irresistibly led by certain impulses or they cannot rid themselves of erroneous ideas concerning themselves and others." This means, in fact, that they had been previously hypnotised to a definite conception which had become imperative. As in Witchcraft, it is a law that one sorcerer cannot undo the work of another without extraordinary pains; so in hypnotism it is hard to undo what is already established by a similar agent.
One can will to remember or recall anything forgotten. I will not be responsible that this will invariably succeed at the first time, but that it does often follow continued determination I know from experience. I believe that where an operator hypnotizes a subject it very often succeeds, if we may believe the instances recorded. And I am also inclined to believe that in many cases, though assuredly not in all, whatever is effected by one person upon another can also be brought about in one's self by patience in forethought, self-suggestion, and the continued will which they awaken.
We can revive by this process old well-nigh forgotten trains of thought. This is difficult but possible. It belongs to an advanced stage of experience or may be found in very susceptible subjects. I do not belong at all to the latter, but I have perfectly succeeded in continuing a dream; that is to say, I have woke up three times during a dream, and, being pleased with it, wished it to go on, then fallen asleep and it went on, like three successive chapters in a novel.
We can subdue the habit of worrying ourselves and others needlessly about every trifling or serious cause of irritation which enters our minds. There are many people who from a mere idle habit or self-indulgence and irrepressible loquacity make their own lives and those of others very miserable—as all my readers can confirm from experience. I once knew a man of great fortune, with many depending on him, who vented his ill-temper and petty annoyances on almost everyone to whom he spoke. He was so fully aware of this failing that he at once, in confessing it to a mutual friend, shed tears of regret. Yet he was a millionaire man of business, and had a strong will which might have been directed to a cure. All peevish, fretful and talkative, or even complaining people, should be induced to seriously study this subject.
We can cure ourselves of the habit of profanity or using vulgar language. No one doubts that a negro who believes in sorcery, if told that if he uttered an oath, Voodoo would fall upon him and cause him to waste away, would never swear again. Or that a South Sea Islander would not do the same for fear of taboo. Now both these forms of sorcery are really hypnotizing by action on belief, and Forethought aided by the sleep process has precisely the same result—it establishes a fixed idea in the mind, or a haunting presence.
We can cure ourselves of intemperance. This was, I believe, first established or extensively experimented on by Dr. CHARLES LLOYD TUCKEY. This can be aided by willing that the liquor, if drunk, shall be nauseating.
We can repress to a remarkable degree the sensations of fatigue, hunger and thirst. Truly no man can defy the laws of nature, but it is very certain that in cases like that of Dr. TANNER, and the Hindu ascetics who were boxed up and buried for many weeks, there must have been mental determination as well as physical endurance. As regards this very important subject of health, or the body, and the degree to which it can be controlled by the mind or will, it is to be observed that of late years physiologists are beginning to observe that all "mental" or corporeal functions are evidently controlled by the same laws or belong to the same organization. If "the emotions, say of anger or love, in their more emphatic forms, are plainly accompanied by varying changes of the heart and blood-vessels, the viscera and muscles," it must follow that changes or excitement in the physical organs must react on the emotions. "All modes of sensibility, whatever their origin," says LUYS, "are physiologically transported into the sensorium. From fiber to fiber, from sensitive element to sensitive element, our whole organism is sensitive; our whole sentient personality, in fact, is conducted just as it exists, into the plexuses of the sensorium commune." Therefore, if every sensation in the body acts on the brain by the aid of secondary brains or ganglions, it must be that the brain in turn can in some way act on the body. And this has hitherto been achieved or attempted by magicians, "miracle-mongers," thaumaturgists, mesmerists, and the like, and by the modern hypnotizer, in which we may observe that there has been at every step less and less mysticism or supernaturalism, and a far easier process or way of working. And I believe it may be fairly admitted that in this work I have simplified the process of physically influencing mental action and rendered it easier. The result from the above conclusions being that we can control many disorders or forms of disease. This is an immense subject, and it would be impossible within a brief sketch to determine its limits or conditions. That what are called nervous disorders, which are evidently the most nearly allied to emotions—as, for instance, a headache, or other trouble induced by grief—can be removed by joy, or some counteracting emotion or mere faith is very well known and generally believed. But of late science has established that the affinities between the cerebral and other functions are so intimately, extensively and strangely sympathetic or identical that it is becoming impossible to say what disease may not be temporarily alleviated or cured by new discoveries in directing the nervo-mental power or will. The Faith-Cure, Magic, Mesmerism, Religious Thaumaturgy and other systems have given us a vast number of authentic cures of very positive disorders. But from the point of view taken by many people what has been wanting in all is, firstly, a clear and simple scientific method free from all spiritualism or wonder, and, secondly, the art of Perfecting the cures by Perseverance. For what will relieve for an hour can be made to cure forever, if we exercise foresight and make perpetuity a part of our whole plan.
Now, as regards curing disorders, I beg the reader to specially observe that this, like many other works, depends on the state of the mind; nor can it be undertaken with hope of success unless the operator has by previous practice in easy experiments succeeded in perfectly convincing himself that he has acquired control of his will. Thus having succeeded in willing himself to work all day without fatigue, or to pass the day without being irritable, let him begin to consider, reflect and realize that he can make himself do this or that, for the more he simply induces the belief and makes himself familiar with it, the stronger and more obedient his Will will be. However, this is simply true that to any self-suggestionist whatever who has had some little practice and attained to even a moderate command over his will, a very great degree of the power to relieve bodily suffering is easy to develop, and it may be increased by practice to an incredible extent. Thus in case of suffering by pain of any kind in another, begin by calmly persuading him or her that relief has been obtained thousands of times by the process, and endeavor to awaken belief, or, at least, so much attention and interest that the fact will remain as forethought in the mind. The next step should be to promise relief, and then induce sleep by the showing a coin, passes with the hands, etc., or allowing the subject to sink into a natural slumber. If there be no success the first time, repeat the experiment. Gout, headaches, all forms of positive pain, severe colds, anaemia, insomnia, melancholia, and dyspepsia appear to be among the ills which yield most readily to, or are alleviated (to the great assistance of a regular cure), by suggestion.
As regards curing disorders, producing insensibility to hunger and thirst, heat or cold, and the like, all are aware that to a man who is under the influence of some great and overpowering emotion, such as rage or surprise, or joy, no pain is perceptible. In like manner, by means of persuasion, sleep, a temporary oblivion, and the skillfully awakened Will, the same insensibility or ignoring can be effected. There is, however, this to be observed, that while in the vast library of books which teach mental medicine the stress is laid entirely on producing merely a temporary cure I insist that by great Forethought, by conducting the cure with a view to permanence, ever persuading the patient to think on the future, and finally by a very thorough continuation and after-treatment many diseases may be radically removed.
To recapitulate and make all clear we will suppose that the reader desires during the following day to be in a calm, self-possessed or peaceful state of mind. Therefore at night, after retiring, let him first completely consider what he wants and means to acquire. This is the Forethought, and it should be as thorough as possible. Having done this, will or declare that what you want shall come to pass on awaking, and repeating this and thinking on it, fall asleep. This is all. Do not wish for two things at once, or not until your mind shall have become familiar with the process. As you feel your power strengthen with success you may will yourself to do whatever you desire.
"Post fata resurgo."
"What is forethought may sleep—'tis very plain, But rest assured that it will rise again."
"Forethought is plan inspired by an absolute Will to carry it out."
It may have struck the reader as an almost awful, or as a very wonderful idea, that man has within himself, if he did but know it, tremendous powers or transcendental faculties of which he has really never had any conception. One reason why such bold thought has been subdued is that he has always felt according to tradition, the existence of superior supernatural (and with them patrician) beings, by whose power and patronage he has been effectively restrained or kept under. Hence gloom and pessimism, doubt and despair. It may seem a bold thing to say that it did not occur to any philosopher through the ages that man, resolute and noble and free, might will himself into a stage of mind defying devils and phantasms, or that amid the infinite possibilities of human nature there was the faculty of assuming the Indifference habitual to all animals when not alarmed. But he who will consider these studies on Self-Hypnotism may possibly infer from them that we have indeed within us a marvelous power of creating states of mind which make the idea of Pessimism ridiculous. For it renders potent and grand, pleasing or practically useful, to all who practice it, a faculty which has the great advantage that it may enter into all the relations or acts of life; will give to everyone something to do, something to occupy his mind, even in itself, and if we have other occupations, Forethought and Induced Will may be made to increase our interest in them and stimulate our skill. In other words, we can by means of this Art increase our ability to practice all arts, and enhance or stimulate Genius in every way or form, be it practical, musical or plastic.
Since I began this work there fell into my hands an ingenious and curious book, entitled "Happiness as found in Forethought minus Fearthought," by HORACE FLETCHER, in which the author very truly declares that Fear in some form has become the arch enemy of Man, and through the fears of our progenitors developed by a thousand causes, we have inherited a growing stock of diseases, terrors, apprehensions, pessimisms, and the like, in which he is perfectly right.