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Volume XI - Philosophy, Psychology and Mysticism

Part II: Psychology

Chapter VII

Practical suggestion has four different aspects. The first is the suggestion that is made to oneself, which is called auto-suggestion. The second is the suggestion that is made to another person. The third is the suggestion that is made to the lower creatures. And the fourth, which is little known to the scientific world but which has always been understood by the mystics, is the suggestion that is made to an object.

Auto-suggestion is something by which one helps oneself to be encouraged or to be discouraged, to be well or to be ill, to go down or to rise, to be happy or to be unhappy. There are two kinds of auto-suggestion: the kind that one intentionally, consciously, makes to oneself and upon which the whole mystical training is based; and the suggestion that one makes to oneself automatically, knowing neither its nature nor its results. The latter kind of suggestion is made by everyone to himself without knowing whether it is to his advantage or to his disadvantage – by it many go downhill and very few uphill. There are many who, without knowing it are in love with misfortune. They will say outwardly, 'I hate it. I don't want it. I don't want to be ill. I don't want to be unfortunate,' yet at the same time unconsciously they continually suggest the contrary to themselves by thinking, 'I am so ill. I am so unfortunate. I am so stupid. I am so weak.'

There are also two kinds of suggestions that one makes to others. One suggestion is that which one makes to another person to help him to be cured of an illness, or to help him to improve his life or his character. And the other is the suggestion one makes out of foolishness or out of ignorance of its effect. For instance, someone says in fun to a friend, 'I will shoot you today.' It is a joke, but he does not know what effect that joke can have upon his friend. One easily says by way of a joke, 'You will go bankrupt if you do so, if you go on spending like this,' or, 'Do you wish to die? You will surely have an accident.' One simply says it, not realizing what effect it could have, sooner or later, upon the other. Sometimes in order to show one's friendship a person says, 'But how weak you look! You are very run down. You can't be feeling well!' These suggestions often make a person ill.

Then there is the suggestion that one makes to the lower creation. All pet animals such as dogs and cats and horses receive suggestion readily and act upon it. This shows that it is not true, as many say, that the lower creatures have no mind. They not only have a mind but they have a heart too, and very often it is more apparent and more alive than in so-called human beings.

And the fourth kind of suggestion is the suggestion that one makes to an object. In this age of materialism this is not understood by most people, but from a mystical point of view it is very often as effective and wonderful as any other suggestion I have mentioned. In ancient times a hero, before going to war, used to take his sword in his hand and speak words of friendship to it from the bottom of his heart. He would say, 'I have taken you in my hand so that you will be my support, my protection, and my friend on the battlefield. All else I leave at home, but you I take along with me, my friend, my beloved sword.'

A musician in India, before playing on his vina, used to greet his instrument saying, 'You are my life. You are my inspiration. You are the means of elevation for my soul. I greet you humbly. You will stand by me when I play.' No one can know of its effect except the one who has spoken these words; he knows what life he has put into the object. That instrument which was an object has turned into a living being.

All manner of practices such as invoking sacred names, repeating spiritual chants in a new house, are suggestion and affect even objects. However foolish it may look from the outside, still the fact remains that all things and beings represent life, the one life, although some are more open to suggestion and feeling, and others seemingly less open.

But even the latter are also open to suggestion. It is we who are not open to see them receive it. Rumi says in the Masnavi that fire, water, air, and earth are all as dead things to us, but before God they stand as living beings, as His obedient servants. (Mathnawi I, 838) The man who knows this mystery knows a wonderful law of nature. As soon as a soul is awakened to this mystery life begins to reveal itself, and the soul begins to communicate with life.

checked 03-Sep-2006