Colors and forms automatically suggest to us a thought
or a feeling. The colors we wear and the colors that are
around us have an effect upon us and produce an atmosphere.
I once happened to go to a newly formed club, and some members
said to me, 'There is surely some evil spirit in this house,
for since we have had our club here, every time we have
had a committee meeting there has been a quarrel!' I directed
their attention to the walls of the room where they used
to have their meetings and which were covered with red paper.
I said, 'It is this red wallpaper. It appeals to the fiery
side of your nature, and if there is any inclination to
fight it encourages you.'
The ancient orders of sages and saints and contemplative
people knew this, and with this thought in mind they chose
the colors of their dress and of their surroundings. This
idea is overlooked today, and people take any color which
is the fashion of the season, not knowing what it suggests
to themselves and to others. And so it is with the form
of things. If an object is well-formed it suggests rhythm
and harmony, and if it is crooked it suggests the opposite.
In ancient times there were superstitions concerning
good and bad omens. One of these was based on the principle
that every color suggests to a person who is going to do
some work, whether he will be successful or whether he will
fail. The impression he gets from that color stays with
him to the extent that it has an effect upon his work. There
was also a superstition that if one met a crooked person
when going to one's work one would have ill luck: not only
a crooked person, but anything crooked one sees at such
a time naturally impresses one's spirit with crookedness.
Not everyone knows something about features, but every person
is affected by features. He receives an impression from
them without knowing it, for the form suggests something
which he may not be able to describe, although he can feel
it. It is a language without words. It conveys something,
though it is not always easy for anyone to interpret it
even to himself.
Every little pain and discomfort often continues through
the power of suggestion. As soon as one feels discomfort
or pain the mind repeats, 'I have a pain. I am uncomfortable,'
and this suggestion adds to that pain, like fuel to the
fire. Very often a person becomes tired before he has done
any work because a previous experience of tiredness suggested
it to him. There are many cases of people who are tired
because of an impression in their mind which gives them
the suggestion that they are tired. It is the same with
weakness. Once a person is impressed with his weakness,
his feebleness of body, this impression continues to act
on him. It comes as an inner suggestion. And if some good
friend tries to help him by saying, 'You seem to be very
low today,' then this only aggravates it.
There is another most important side to suggestion, and
that is an impression on one's conscience of, 'I have done
wrong. I have done something which was unjust. I was not
fair. It was beneath my dignity.' No doubt this impression
is produced by the good side of a person's being, but often
it results in something bad. For what happens is that first
comes the idea of having done wrong, and then in time that
feeling is blunted and a person begins to bear it and think
it is all right. But as the impression of having done wrong
remains and continues to act upon him, this makes him do
worse and worse. Thus a person who has been in prison very
often continues to go to prison, continues to commit the
same crime. The reason is that he is impressed by that crime,
and the spirit which opposes it has become blunted. He is
now accustomed both to the crime and to the punishment.
In other words, he has become master of the situation.
We see the same with children. If a child is impressed
by something it has done which is good, and we admire it
and say, 'It is very nice,' or if the child, of itself,
thinks, 'What I have done is very good,' this continues
to work in the child and in that way it will improve every
It is because they recognized the power of suggestion
that the ancient people gave names to their children with
a meaning that would suggest to them certain ideas. Naturally
if a person hears his name called by others a hundred times
a day, he has something suggested to him a hundred times.
He may not realize it at the time, but the depths of his
consciousness receive the suggestion and he develops that
quality, for such is the nature of the soul.
This idea is very little known to the world, but the
more it becomes known, the more people will understand its
value. There is nothing in the world that can give a deeper
suggestion to a person than his own name, for he is called
by that name all the time. And one should be thankful to
those who begin to understand this idea so that they can
spread it among their friends. There is an automatic suggestion
in the name. We hear ourselves called so many times during
the day, and this produces the feeling of that name, not
only in our own consciousness but also in the minds of those
who call us. Automatically a feeling arises, and all this
works for our benefit.
Many give names thoughtlessly, or names without meaning,
and this of course has no result. And when a person has
been given a name which means, for instance, something like
torture, the life of that person may become torture in the
end. Also, if the parents who give the child a name are
not inspired, then an automatic working of the cosmic forces
may suggest to them a particular name, and that name then
builds the child's destiny.
It has been the custom of the great mystics to give someone
a better name in order to produce better results. Sometimes
a name given by a sage or a mystic in a moment of deep feeling,
a name which comes out of his heart, changes the whole destiny
of that person from the day that it is given. The poor become
rich, the stupid wise, the insignificant great or famous.
It is not only an idea, but a frequent experience. There
have been many such instances when people have received
a name as a blessing from a spiritual person and their whole
life has been changed. We know so little about the power
of the name, but the more one studies this question, the
more one will realize that a person's name can have a very
great influence upon his life.
Nothing gives a stronger suggestion than a deep impression
of success or failure, of weakness or strength, of good
or ill luck, of sorrow or joy. And it is the greatest pity
when a person is deeply impressed by his unworthiness. When
this impression continues, where does it lead him? It leads
him to a complete feeling of unworthiness, and naturally
he will have to bear with himself; and in that way the side
of his nature which should oppose it becomes blunted, and
this results in hopelessness.