Now as to the means whereby the Instinctive Mind is influenced. There are innumerable methods and forms of practices, conscious and unconscious, whereby such effects are produced, but they may be roughly grouped into three general classes.
(1) Personal Suggestion;
(2) Thought Influence, present and distant, and
(3) Mesmeric or Hypnotic Influence.
These three forms shade into each other, and are generally combined, but it is well to separate them here, that we may understand them the better. We will take them up in turn, briefly.
Let us first consider Personal Suggestion. As we have said, this is most common, and is constantly practiced more or less by all of us, and we are all more or less affected by it. We will confine ourselves to the most striking forms. Personal Suggestions are conveyed by the voice, the manner, the appearance, etc. The Instinctive Mind takes for granted, and accepts as truth the words, appearance and manners of the positive person, and acts upon the same, according to degree of its receptivity. This degree varies in persons, according to the degree to which they have developed the “I” consciousness, as we have before stated. The greater the amount of the “I” consciousness, the less the degree of receptivity, unless the person is tired, his attention is distracted, is off his guard, or voluntarily opens himself to the influence of the other’s mind or words.
The more positive or authoritative the suggestion the more readily is it taken up by the receptive Instinctive Mind. Suggestion affects a person not through his Intellect but through his Instinctive Mind – it operates not by argument but by assertions, demands and commands. Suggestions gain force by being repeated, and where one is not influenced by a single suggestion, repeated suggestions along the same lines have a much greater power. Some persons have cultivated such a proficiency in the art of Suggestion that one has to be on his guard not to unconsciously accept some of the subtle suggestions insinuated into the conversation.
But one who realizes the “I” consciousness, or better still, the Real Self and its relation to All, has no need to fear the power of the suggestionist, as the suggestions will not be able to penetrate his well-guarded Instinctive Mind, or even if it does lodge around the outer surface of the mind, it will soon be detected and discarded with a smile of amusement. But, a word of caution; be on your guard towards those who attempt to lead you not by argument or reason, but by assertion, pretended authority, plausible manner and a general “taking it for granted” way with you. Also keep your eye on those who ask you questions and answer them in advance for you, thus: “You like this pattern, don’t you?” or “This is what you want, isn’t it?” Suggestion and assertion go hand in hand. You can generally tell a Suggestion by the company it keeps.
Secondly, let us consider Thought Influence, present and distant. As we have stated in previous lessons, every thought results in the projection of thought-waves of greater or lesser strength, size and power. We have explained how these thought-waves are sent forth, and how they are received by another individual. We are all receiving thought-waves at all times, but comparatively few affect us, as they are not in harmony with our own thoughts, moods, character and tastes. We attract to our inner consciousness only such thoughts as are in harmony with our own.
But, if we are of a negative character, and allow our Instinctive Mind to go without its proper master, and become too receptive, we are in danger of having it accept, assimilate and act upon the passing thought-waves surrounding us. We have explained the action of the thought-waves in other lessons, but we did not point out this phase of the matter, preferring to take it up here. The unguarded Instinctive Mind is not only affected by all sorts of passing thought-waves, which are floated down to it, but is also peculiarly liable to be affected by a strong, positive, conscious thought-wave directed toward it by another who wishes to influence its owner. Everyone who is trying to influence another person, for good or evil, unconsciously throws off thought-waves of this kind with greater or less effect. And some who have learned some of the rudimentary occult truths and have prostituted them into Black Magic, consciously and deliberately send thought-waves towards persons whom they wish to influence. And if the Instinctive Mind is unguarded by its proper master, it is more or less apt to be affected by these efforts of selfish and malicious minds.
The tales of Witchcraft days are not all mere delusions and superstitions, but underneath the exaggerated reports and tales may be found a great foundation of occult truth, readily recognized by the advanced occultist as rudimentary occult power prostituted into Black Magic. All the combined Black Magic or Witchcraft in the world could not affect a man or woman who possessed the higher form of consciousness, but one of a fearful, supersti tious turn of mind, with little or no self-confidence or self-reliance, would be apt to have an Instinctive Mind ready and ripe for the entrance of such hurtful thought-waves or thought-forms.
All the conjurations, “spells,” etc., of the voodoos, “witches,” conjurers, etc., etc., have no efficacy beyond the thought sent out with their use – and the thought is made more powerful because it is concentrated by means of the rites, ceremonies, “spells,” images, etc., of the unholy devotees of Black Magic. But it would be just as powerful if concentrated by some other means. But, no matter how concentrated or sent forth, it can have no effect unless the Instinctive Mind is ready to receive and assimilate it, and act upon it. The man or woman “who knows” need have no fear of these practices. In fact, the very reading of this lesson will clear away from many minds the receptivity which might have, or has had, allowed them to be influenced to a greater or lesser extent by the selfish thoughts of others. This, mind you, not because of any virtue in this lesson (we are claiming nothing of the sort), but merely because the reading of it has caused the student’s mind to awaken to its own power, and to assert itself.
Remember, the mind attracts only such thoughts as are harmonious with its own thoughts – and the Instinctive Mind is influenced against its own interests, only when its owner has admitted his own weakness and lack of ability to master and guard it. You must guard your own Instinctive Mind, and assert your master and ownership of it, as, otherwise, that ownership may be asserted, claimed and usurped by others more masterful than yourself. You have the strength and power necessary within you, if you but assert it. It is yours for the asking, why don’t you demand it? You may awaken the “I” consciousness and develop it by the power of assertion, which will aid in its unfoldment. We will have more to say on this point in the following pages.