N.S.B. Cosmic Center
This page will take you into articles of psychology that are carefully selected. Emphasis and highlights are mostly ours, not made by the original author.
Here is our current selection:
The Magic of Believing (1948) by Claude Bristol
4. Suggestion is Power
How many times have you heard it said, "
You may be shipwrecked and tossed into the water near a rocky shore. Momentarily, you may fear that there isn't a chance for you. Suddenly a feeling comes that you will be saved -- or that you can save yourself. The moment you have that feeling, it begins to take the form of belief. And along with the belief comes the power to assist you.
You may be in a fire, surrounded by flames and enveloped in smoke, and frantic with fear. This same power asserts itself -- and you may be saved. Emerson explains it by saying that in a difficult situation or a sudden emergency, our spontaneous action is always the best. Many stories have been told of the great reserves of the subconscious mind, how under its direction (and by imparting its superhuman strength), frail men and women have been able to perform feats far beyond their normal powers. Speakers, stand-up comedians, and writers are often amazed at the subconscious mind's power to furnish them with a steady flow of thoughts that their audiences enjoy.
After studying the various mystical religions and different teachings and systems of mind-stuff, I'm impressed that they all have the same basic modus operandi. That is, they achieve success through repetition -- the repeating of certain mantras, words, or formulas. William Seabrook declared that witch doctors, Voodoo high priests, "
In his book, Penthouse of the Gods, published in 1939, Theos Bernard recounts some interesting facts as to the repetition of certain mystical chants and prayers. When he wrote it, he claimed to be the first white person to enter the mysterious Tibetan city of Lhasa, high in the Himalayas, where the monasteries contained thousands of lamas -- followers of Buddha. On reading the book, you get the impression that when the lamas, and monks are not eating or attending to the material wants of their bodies, they are
In all religions, cults, and orders, there is an obvious, prescribed ritual in which the repetition of words (mystical or otherwise) plays an important part. And this brings us to the law of suggestion. Forces operating within its limits are capable of producing phenomenal results. That is, the power of suggestion -- either autosuggestion (your own to yourself) or heterosuggestion (coming to you from outside sources) -- starts the machinery into operation, causing the subconscious mind to begin its creative work -- and right here is where the affirmations and repetitions play their part. Repetition of the same chant, the same incantations, the same affirmations leads to belief, and once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen. A builder or contractor looks over a set of plans and specifications for a bridge or a building, and, urged by a desire to get the contract for the work, declares to himself, "
Hitler used the identical force and the same mechanics in inciting the German people to attack the world. A reading of his Mein Kampf will verify that. Dr. Rene Fauvel, a famous French psychologist, explained it by saying that Hitler had a remarkable understanding of the law of suggestion and its different forms of application, and that he mobilized every instrument of propaganda in his mighty campaign of suggestion with uncanny skill and masterly showmanship. Hitler openly stated that the psychology of suggestion was a
Let's see how he worked it to make the Germans believe what he wanted them to. Slogans, posters, huge signs, massed flags appeared throughout Germany. Hitler's picture was everywhere. "
Mussolini, too, used the same law of suggestion in an attempt to give Italy a place in the sun. Signs and slogans such as "
Joseph Stalin, too, used the same science to build Russia into what she is today. In November, 1946, the Institute of Modern Hypnotism, recognizing that Stalin had been using the great power of the repeated suggestion in order to make the Russian people believe in their strength, named him as one of the ten persons with the "
The Japanese warlords used it to make fanatical fighters out of their people. From the very day of their birth, Japanese children were fed the suggestion that they were direct descendants of Heaven and destined to rule the world. They prayed it, chanted it, and believed it; but here again, it was used wrongly.
For forty-four years, ever since the Russo-Japanese war, the Japanese immortalized Naval Warrant Officer Magoshichi Sugino, one of Japan's early suicide fighters and greatest heroes. Thousands of statues were erected to his memory. In repeated song and story, young Nipponese were taught to believe that they could die in no more heroic manner than by following his example. Millions of them believed it, and during the war thousands of them did die as Kamikaze pilots. Yet Sugino, who was supposed to have gone to his death while scuttling a ship to bottle up the Russian fleet at Port Arthur, didn't die in battle! He was picked up by a Chinese boat. Upon learning that he was being lauded by his people as a great martyr, he decided to remain obscure and became an exile in Manchuria. Although he was alive and well, it continued to be dinned into the ears of young Nipponese that there was no greater heroic act than to die as Sugino had. This terrible, persistent and deeply founded belief, though based entirely on a fable, caused thousands of Japanese to throw away their lives during the war. Finally, Associated Press dispatches from Tokyo in November, 1946, told how he was discovered after many years and was being returned home.
Americans, too, were subjected to the power of suggestion long before World War I, and got it again in a big way under the direction of General Hugh Johnson with his N.R.A. plan. In World War II, we were constantly told that Germany and Japan had to be defeated unconditionally. Under the constant repetition of the same thought, all individual thinking was paralyzed and the mass mind became grooved to a certain pattern -- win the war unconditionally. As one writer so ably said, "
Again we see the terrific force of thought repetition -- it is our master, and we do as we are ordered. This subtle force of the repeated suggestion overcomes our reason, acting directly on our emotions and our feelings, finally penetrating to the very depths of our subconscious minds. This is the basic principle of all successful advertising -- the continued and repeated suggestion that first makes you believe,
For centuries tomatoes were looked upon as poisonous. People dared not eat them until some fearless person tried them and lived. Today millions of people eat tomatoes, not knowing that they were considered unfit for human consumption. Conversely, the lowly spinach nearly went into the garbage pail after the United States Government declared that it did not contain the food values attributed to it for decades. Millions believed this and refused to honor Popeye's favorite dish any longer.
Clearly, the founders of all great religious movements knew much about the power of the repeated suggestion and gained far-reaching results with it. Religious teachings have been hammered into us from birth, into our mothers and fathers before us and into their parents and their parents before them. There's certainly white magic in that kind of believing.
Such statements as "
The Bible is filled with examples of the power of thought and suggestion. Read Genesis, Chapter 30, verses 36 to 43, and you'll learn that even Jacob knew their power. The Bible tells how he developed spotted and speckled cattle, sheep, and goats by placing rods from trees, partially stripping them of their bark so they would appear spotted and marked, in the watering troughs where the animals came to drink. As you may have guessed, the flocks conceived before the spotted rods and brought forth cattle, "
Moses, too, was a master at suggestion. For forty years he used it on the Israelites, and it took them to the promised land of milk and honey. David, following the suggestive forces operating on him, slew the mighty, heavily armed Goliath with a pebble from a slingshot.
Joan of Arc, the frail little Maid of Orleans, heard voices and under their suggestive influences became imbued with the idea that she had a mission to save France. She was able to transmit her indomitable spirit to the hearts of her soldiers and she defeated the superior forces of the English at Orleans.
William James, father of modern psychology in America, declared that often our faith in advance of a doubtful undertaking is the only thing that can assure its successful conclusion. Man's faith, according to James, acts on the powers above him as a claim and creates its own verification. In other words, the thought becomes literally father to the fact. For further illumination of faith and its power, I suggest that you read the General Epistle of James in the New Testament.
Actually everyone who has ever witnessed a football or baseball game has seen this power of suggestion at work. Knute Rockne, the famous coach at Notre Dame, knew the value of suggestion and used it repeatedly, but always suited his method of applying it to the temperament of the individual team. On one Saturday afternoon, Notre Dame was playing in a particularly grueling game, and at the end of the first half was trailing badly. The players were in their dressing room nervously awaiting Rockne's arrival. Finally the door opened, and Rockne came in slowly. His eyes swept inquiringly over the squad -- "
Other writers, too, have explained the psychological methods Rockne used and have told how Fielding Yost of Michigan, Dan McGuin of Vanderbilt, Herbert Crisler of Princeton, and dozens of others used the "
In 1935, Gonzaga University beat powerful Washington State 13 to 6 in one of the biggest upset games ever seen in the West. Gonzaga was a non-conference team, while the Washington State team, because of its great record, was thought to be unbeatable. Newspapers at the time reported assistant coach Sam Dagley as having declared that Gonzaga played inspired football. He revealed that for half an hour before the game, Coach Mike Pecarovich played "
Years ago, Mickey Cochrane of the Detroit Tigers literally drove a second-division-minded group of baseball players to the top of the American League by using the power of the repeated suggestion. I quote from a newspaper dispatch: "
You see the same force actively at work in the fluctuations of the stock market. Unfavorable news immediately depresses prices, while favorable news raises them. The intrinsic values of stocks are not changed, but there is an immediate change in the thinking of the market operators, which is reflected at once in the minds of the holders Not what will actually happen, but what security holders believe will happen causes them to buy or sell.
In the Depression years -- and there may be years like them in the future -- we saw this same suggestive force working overtime. Day after day we heard expressions such as, "
There will never be another business depression if people generally realize that their own fearful thoughts literally create hard times. They think hard times, and hard times follow. So it is with wars. When peoples of the world stop thinking of depressions and wars, they will become non-existent, for nothing comes into our economic sphere unless we first create it with our emotional thinking.
Dr. Walter Dill Scott, eminent psychologist and long president of Northwestern University, told the whole story when he said, "
You may have read of the night of October 20, 1938, when Orson Welles and his Mercury Theater players broadcast a dramatization of H. G. Wells' novel, The War of the Worlds. It was a story of an invasion by some strange warriors from the planet Mars, but it caused fright among thousands of people. Some rushed out-of-doors, police stations were besieged, eastern telephone exchanges were blocked, New Jersey highways were dogged. In fact, for a few hours following the broadcast, there was genuine panic among millions of listeners who believed our earth was being attacked by invaders from Mars. Yes, indeed, belief does cause some strange and unusual happenings!
Human beings are human beings the world over, all subject to the same emotions, the same influences, and the same vibrations. And what is a big business, a village, a city, a nation but merely a collection of individual humans controlling and operating it with their thinking and believing? As individuals think and believe, so they are. As a whole city of them thinks, so it is; and as a nation of them think, so it is. This is an inescapable conclusion. Every person is the creation of themselves, the image of their own thinking and believing. As King Solomon put it, "
Rallies held in schools and colleges just before important athletic contests are based on the same principles -- speeches, songs, and yells become the means of creating suggestion and arousing the will to win. Many sales managers employ the same principle in their morning sales meetings when frequently music is used to emotionalize the salesmen and to get the idea over to them that they can beat all their previous sales records. The same principle with varying technique is basic in the Army -- in fact, all armies. The commands and formations constantly repeated in close-order drill develop in the men instant obedience, which ultimately becomes instinctive. The commands and formations become so fixed in their minds and bodies that their movements are almost automatic -- all of which in turn creates that self-confidence which is absolutely necessary in active conflict.
It is very important to remember that the subconscious will go into action at once under the impetus of the commands or suggestions it receives from the conscious mind (or which come from outside sources and are transmitted to it via the conscious mind). But it gets results quicker if the conscious mind accompanies its message with a mental picture of the desired goal. It may be faint, sketchy, or even unfinished, but even if only an outline, it will be enough for the subconscious to act upon.
And this brings us to the rituals and ceremonies performed amid dramatic settings in churches and secret orders, all designed to appeal to the emotions and to create a mystical picture in the beholders' minds. These rituals, no matter what the setting, are there to hold your attention and link these symbols' hidden meanings with the particular ideas to be implanted in your mind. Various lighting arrangements, different paraphernalia, often a special garb for those directing the operations, all to the accompaniment of soft, often religious, music, all help to put you in the proper emotional (and incidentally, receptive) state. The idea is as old as history. Not only the most civilized peoples but also the most primitive tribes have their characteristic ceremonials. Similar methods for impressing the individual are employed at mediumistic stances and crystal-gazing performances; even the gypsy phrenologist considers it a part of her "
This is not said with any idea of being sacrilegious, but to present a picture of the historic method of appealing to the masses. Appeal by drama is the first step in arousing people's emotions, no matter for what purpose. Awakening and stirring their emotional interest prepares the way to approach their reasoning minds.
Could Aimee Semple McPherson, with the long flowing white robe and picturesque auburn hairdo, have put over her great act of saving souls as well as achieving healings, without her superb understanding of the power of the dramatic? It's something to wonder about, because Billy Sunday in his best table-sliding act was a novice compared to Aimee when it came to showmanship and plain impressiveness. She with her many artifices and stage settings put on a most solemn performance, and her followers -- on the Pacific Coast at least -- declare that the results she got were real and lasting. This is no reflection on Mrs. McPherson, for her followers were very sincere and believed in her work, her teachings, and the results -- and that's all that matters.
However, men and women with strong personal magnetism and great orators can get the same emotional effect without props or stage settings to aid them. They are masters of tone effects, emotional appeal, gesticulations, bodily movements, eye magnetism, etc., by which your attention is held and you yourself are thrown wide open to their driving appeal.
Let's consider charms, talismans, amulets, good-luck pieces, four-leaf clovers, old horseshoes, rabbits' feet, and countless other trinkets which thousands of people believe in. By themselves, they are harmless inanimate objects with no power. But when people breathe life into them by their thinking, they do have power, even though the power isn't in them per se. The power comes only with the believing -- which alone makes them effective.
An outstanding illustration of this is found in the story of Alexander the Great and Napoleon. In Alexander's day, an oracle proclaimed that whoever unloosened the Gordian knot would become ruler of all Asia. Alexander cut the knot with one stroke of his sword -- and rose to tremendous heights and power. Napoleon was given a star sapphire when a child, with the prophecy that it would bring him luck and some day make him Emperor. Could anything but the supreme belief in the prophecy have carried this great man to become Emperor of France? He and Alexander became supermen because they had supernormal beliefs.
A cracked or broken mirror isn't going to bring you bad luck unless you believe in it. But as long as the belief is fertilized, nurtured, and made a part of your inner self, believe it or not, it is going to bring you bad luck -- because the subconscious mind always brings to reality what it is led to believe.
Bird and Tompkins'
It is a long way from Switzerland to British Columbia, but in that Canadian province is a tribe of Indians, the members of which always talk to their lines and hooks before actually starting to fish, claiming that if they didn't, the halibut and salmon wouldn't bite. Many are the tales of South Sea Islanders who offer food to their tools and implements, talking to them as though they were alive and beseeching them to get results. It isn't a great jump from those customs to the blessings offered at ship launchings or at sailing times of large fishing fleets in civilized countries, where prayers are offered even today, for successful voyages or ventures.
I recall a thrifty neighbor of mine who, although a man of intelligence and mature years, had his hair cut at only certain times of the moon. I don't remember whether it was when the moon was waxing or waning, but he maintained that whatever phase he selected caused his hair to grow less abundantly than if he had visited the barber at other times. I asked him once where he got such an idea. He glared at me as though I were belittling his intelligence, and I never did get an answer to my question.
What I have said about plant and animal life may cause a lot of materialistic people to take violent issue, but it must be remembered that at work in the world are many forces of which we know little or nothing. Consider how many new principles were developed in World War II. In the late 1940s, the American Rocket Society made application to the United States Government for land on the moon. Perhaps the application was made in a spirit of facetiousness, but Americans landed on the moon only 20 years later.
Without question, human imagination, visualization, and concentration are the chief factors in developing the subconscious mind's magnetic forces. You have often heard the statement, "
For example, you would like a new home. Your imagination goes to work. At first, you have only a hazy idea of the kind of house you would like. Then, as you discuss it with other members of your family -- or ask questions of builders or look at illustrations of new houses -- the mental picture becomes clearer and clearer, until you can visualize your ideal house in all its particulars.
After that, the subconscious goes to work to provide you with that house. It may come into manifestation in any number of ways. But do you really care whether you build it with your own hands, or whether it comes to you through purchase, or from the actions of outsiders? How it comes to you is of no great consequence!
When you are after a better job or planning a vacation trip, the process is the same. You've got to see it in your mind's eye, see yourself as holding that job or actually taking the trip. Some of our fears become realities through our imaginations, just as Job's did. Fortunately, many of them do not -- as long as we hold the mental picture only temporarily, or at least not long enough to focus it fully upon the screen of our subconscious. The Biblical warning, "
As I write this, I think of the many experiences confided to me by those who have used this science during the years. I want to give you some of their stories, for in them you may perhaps find clues to an even more effective use of the principles and the mechanics which I am setting forth.
A friend got the idea of building a boat. He knew nothing about boat construction, but believed that with some simple instructions, he could build one. So he went ahead. In the course of the work, he found that he needed an electric drill, but he didn't want to spend $75 or $80 for the kind he wanted, especially when he would be using it for only a few months. First, he tried renting a drill, but inasmuch as he could use it only at night and had to return it early the next morning, he found such an arrangement very inconvenient.
He told me, "
Another man told me how he got the use of a thirty-foot extension ladder with which to paint his house. "
Another man told me that shortly after Pearl Harbor, he had been looking for a garbage can of a certain size, but because of wartime priorities, he was unable to locate what he wanted. He visited second-hand stores, junk shops, bakeries, and garages to find the kind of container he wanted, but without success. He was about to give up hope when one morning he noticed workmen making repairs on a concrete building across from his home. They were using some waterproofing material from exactly the kind of can he had pictured for his own use. He asked the man in charge of the work what would be done with the container when the work was finished, and was told it would be left on the ground to be hauled away. He then explained his wants, and a couple of days later the container was in his garage -- the workmen had not only emptied it but had washed and scrubbed it before delivery!
I had taken my car to a shop owner for repairs to the ignition system, after several mechanics had failed to locate the trouble. I told him how the car had been acting, and after listening he said, "
I casually remarked, "
I know that some readers will say that these are merely coincidences, but my files are filled with similar "
It is pretty well agreed that the subconscious mind works as a result of images thrown upon its screen, but if there is something wrong with your projection apparatus or the original slide, then the projected image is blurred, inverted, or a total blank. Doubts, fears, counter-thoughts, all manage to blur the pictures you consciously desire to project.
Those who have well-developed imaginations, such as great artists, writers, and inventors, possess the ability to visualize or to make mental pictures almost at will. However, with the mechanics which I will enlarge upon later and the explanations already given, anyone following them should have no difficulty in being able to see in their mind's eye the things, objects, or situations that they desire in reality.
One of the greatest fishermen I ever knew used this visualizing method. He could sit in a boat with one or two others and pull trout after trout out of the water, while his companions -- using the same kind of bait and with apparently the same mechanical technique -- dropped their hooks in the same places repeatedly, without results.
I asked him about it one time, and he laughingly replied: "
This story was told to another fisherman not blessed with the first fisherman's luck, and he scoffed at it. "
Ben Hur Lampman was associate editor of The Oregonian, author of many articles and books on fishing and kindred subjects and a recognized naturalist. Upon reading this story, he said:
I am not a fisherman, but surely if this law of attraction works in other ways, there is no reason why it could not be used advantageously in fishing.
For many years I was interested in the game of golf and was a member of several clubs. I frequently played with a man who had been one of the world's tennis champions in his younger days. He was one of the most amazing short-shot players on the Pacific Coast. With his mashie or mashie niblick, he could place the ball on any desired spot on the green with a dead stop, as close to or as far from the pin as he desired, and he was usually down in one putt. His putting, too, was an art to marvel at.
One day he amazed everyone in our foursome with what could be called phenomenal shots. "
For you who may raise your eyebrows at this, let's examine the facts given in a newspaper story written in the middle thirties by the famous sports writer, Grantland Rice. Rice declared that the phenomenal amateur golf player, John Montagu, could run rings around anyone. The ball always landed where he wanted to place it, whether 300 yards down the fairway or a chip shot to within two or three feet of the cup, and then when he putted, it was like the crack of doom. Rice said that the ball went where Montagu wanted it to go. Now let's read Montagu's own explanation as given in the same newspaper story. "
Gene Sarazen, one of the greatest golf professionals of all times, used similar methods in his matches. His little book Golf Tips has much to say about mental pictures, objectives, concentration, and confidence. All golfers have heard of "
On one course where I often played there was a water hole. The distance from the tee to the hole was about one hundred and twenty yards spanning a small pond approximately fifty feet wide -- an easy shot with a mashie or a mashie niblick for the average player. For a long time one member of the club, who had been a great baseball and football player in his younger days, could never get over this water hazard. Invariably he would put ball after ball into the water with his irons, to the accompaniment of profanity on his part and laughter on ours. Finally, as the months went by he took to using his spoon and hitting the ball far beyond the green.
One day I said to him, "
In observing many pool and billiard games, I am convinced that certain skilled players influence the direction and fall of the balls by mind control, although they may be in complete ignorance of the power they are using. If it can work on a golf ball, it certainly can work on a billiard ball.
The naturalist Roy Chapman Andrews told the story of a man from San Antonio, Texas, who with a .22 caliber rifle fired more than 14,500 shots at small blocks of wood tossed into the air without a single miss. Mr. Andrews emphasized his perfect timing and remarkable accuracy. Nothing was said of the mind-pictures; but if you have ever done any prolonged trap or target shooting, you know the part visualizing plays.
One finds the same sort of "
In this connection, I was impressed by several statements made by Dr. Marcus Bach in one of his first books, They Have Found a Faith. Dr. Bach tells of bowling with Father Divine, and of observing -- from the way Father Divine selected a ball, and from his stance and delivery -- that he was no bowler. Yet Father Divine made a strike on his first try and it was one of the prettiest strikes Dr. Bach ever saw. "
Dr. Bach also wrote of an interview with Rickert Fillmore, manager of Unity City and son of one of the founders of the Unity movement. Dr. Bach asked if the works of Unity could be applied to a real estate venture. Mr. Fillmore replied, "
Many readers of this book may not be golfers or billiard players, but a simple experiment will demonstrate to you this strange power of attraction through visualizing -- or making the mental picture actually work. Find a few small stones or pebbles which you can easily throw and locate a tree or post between 6 and 10 inches in diameter. Stand away from it twenty-five or thirty feet and start throwing the pebbles in an attempt to hit it. If you have average aim, most of the stones will go wide of their mark. Now stop and tell yourself that you can hit the objective. Get a mental picture of the tree figuratively stepping forward to meet the stone or of the pebble actually colliding with the tree in the spot where you want it to strike, and you'll soon find yourself making a perfect score. Don't say it's impossible. Try it, and you'll prove it can be done -- if only you will believe it.
In the early days of wartime gasoline rationing, most people didn't consider getting additional coupons a criminal offense. A friend found he didn't have enough gas to take him to his duck lake. One Sunday he told me how he had secured enough coupons to make several trips to the shooting grounds. "
Now let's take this same science into the kitchen. Did it ever occur to you that the socalled good cooks use this same science, some consciously and others unconsciously? Two people can attempt to make the same kind of pie, use identical ingredients and follow instructions to the letter. One will be a failure while the other will be the last word in culinary achievement.
Why? In the first case, the one cook approaches pie-making with trepidation. She knows she has had pie failures in the past and worries how this one is going to come out. She doesn't have a perfect mental picture of an appetite-satisfying golden brown crust with a wonderful zestful filling. She's upset and nervous, and without her knowing it, her uneasiness is communicated to her pie-making. The second one is aware, she knows that her pie is going to be tops -- and it is. That primary mental picture -- her belief -- makes it so.
If you are a mediocre chef but you like to cook -- that's a very necessary requisite too -- sell yourself on the idea that you can prepare superior dishes. You can do it, for you have the forces inside of you, and they will come to your aid if only you will believe in them and call upon them. So put your heart and soul into the next pie you make. Envision it as perfect, and you will be surprised when you see the realization of your mental picture.
The same law will work no matter where it is applied, and that goes for everything from fishing to money-making or success in business. Let's take an example out of the war. When he left the Philippines, General Douglas MacArthur declared "