THE vast majority of the human race is ruled not by reason and logic but by emotion and imagination.

The orator who is ignorant of this principle will find his most brilliant arguments and learning no match for the “spellbinder” or demagogue who does not know one- tenth as much about the subject but does know how to sway the mind of the mob.1 Of course, knowledge of the subject is indispensable to advancement and, if coupled with the art of making an emotional appeal, will create an irresistible leader.

William Jennings Bryan and Robert La Follette were outstanding examples of this during the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the first quarter of the twentieth.

We do not “think” half as much as we “feel.” Thinking is a comparatively recent accomplishment in human evolution, while feeling began with protoplasmic life. Most of the things we do are not done as the result of conscious thought and well-ordered planning but merely from habit. We are largely controlled by our tendency to do things as we used to do them, as our neighbors do them, and as our fathers and mothers


See “The Mob” by Le Mott

before us did them. As a usual thing we rather dislike new ways, new things, new ideas, because they are unfamiliar to us. They make us uncomfortable. All important changes are brought about with great discomfort, much mental resistance.

The progress of the race is realized largely through the zeal and self- sacrifice of one or more individuals who force the new ideas on the multitudes, usually at the sacrifice of their own comfort and often of their own lives. “Never man so spoke,” said the soldiers in reporting their failure to take Jesus, but his contemporaries crucified him.

It was not the masterful logic of the Master which finally won him a place in spiritual leadership of the race, but the remarkable appeal to the imagination and the emotions made by his tragic death and the fanatical devotion of his disciples, all but one of whom sacrificed his life for the message.

This tendency to be swayed by the imagination is the primary factor of what we call “suggestion.” It can be observed in many forms. A child has the instinctive tendency to imitate what its parents and others around it do and say. It is controlled not by reason but by the “suggestions” of its environment.

Mother’s way of keeping house becomes the daughter’s way, and even the instruction of the teacher in the domestic science department of the schools, though reinforced by emulation and example of fellow-students is hardly

strong enough to change the child’s idea of what is natural or right, and it goes on “in the same old way.” The strong suggestion of companionship is shown in the way some boys will immediately become whatever their playmates are “without rhyme or reason.”

The theater exercises a strong suggestive power and we speak of a play as “suggestive” if it contains lines or scenes which tend to arouse improper thoughts or feelings. It is for this reason that many people feel that the stage and the screen should be carefully censored.

Suggestion plays an important part in the art of advertising and salesmanship. The effort of the salesman is to impart an idea to the mind of the buyer in such a way as to arouse his interest and encourage his decision to buy.

When, for example, a saleswoman puts a cloak on a possible customer, and says, “How well that shade or style becomes you!” she is using the art of suggestion, because she is arousing the desire and decision to buy.

Suggestion, then, may be defined as the art of conveying an idea from one mind to another in such a way as to arouse response and action of some kind or at least the acceptance of a point of view which was not previously held, as when the preacher succeeds in converting or proselyting. To be a true suggestion, it must reach the subconscious mind of the subject in such a way as to be actually embedded there. Motor

action or permanent change is the result. This is particularly true in the matter of healing by suggestion, which is not, as many suppose, a modern art, but is better understood than it was a thousand or more years ago. In the case of healing by suggestion, ideas are transferred to the mind of the patient which supplant other ideas he holds about himself.

The modem method is to have the patient take an easy position, assume a half sleepy attitude while the physician speaks in a low and rather monotonous tone, declaring that the old idea of pain, disease, and inharmony is now being replaced with health and wholeness. He usually describes the new condition which is to manifest in the patient. This is called suggestion or psychotherapeutics.

Those who call themselves spiritual healers often repudiate the term “suggestion” and call that “mental science” as opposed to their system of healing. It is instructive, however, in this connection to note that Mrs. Eddy says, “Christian Science explains all cause and effect as mental, not physical.”2 Her theory merely reverses the suggestion, for she conceives that the patient is already suggested or hypnotized into the belief he is sick and her method is to remove this suggestion or hypnotic idea. This is


My own point of view on this matter will be found in my book, “The Law of Mind in Action.”

accomplished by conveying the suggestion that the sickness is only a belief and that when this is accepted or realized, the patient will find himself well.

Suggestion is a scientific fact and it is useless to take an antagonistic attitude toward it as though there were something wrong in its use. It is not the control of a stronger mind over a weaker one, nor a method of getting the best of another by mental means.

Like all laws it will work in either direction and can be used to further either good or bad ends. It is a method of awakening the deepest forces of the mind to action along the chosen line.

When applied to oneself, it is called autosuggestion. It may be one which uproots and removes a former destructive suggestion, leaving the mind to act in a normal or healthy state, thus producing a healthy body (as in healing by the metaphysical method followed by Mental Science, Christian Science, Divine Science, etc.), or it may initiate an entirely new train of ideas and actions. It may be used to heal the body,—bring about social, political, or religious changes,—promote or obstruct progress,—further business success either in advertising, salesmanship, or profession. Ignorance of it is a handicap; knowledge, a handmaiden.

We are all trying to bring about changes that will better our condition and we should avail ourselves of the magic power of suggestion and learn how to use it in

the wisest and most constructive way possible. We should learn how to eliminate from our mind ail ideas that tend to failure, and plant in their place the sturdy seed of success.


The following suggestion or treatment will be of value: I know that there is nothing to obstruct my progress.

There is no force pitted against me and there is no bad luck lying in wait for me. Nothing happens by chance and I will not accept the idea that I am governed by any circumstance or condition. I am the maker and therefore the master of conditions, and I am the ruler of my own fate.

From this time on I am going to look only for the constructive and helpful ideas, situation, and people. I am going to believe in myself. I am going to be happy in the realization that “all power is given unto me” to be what I want to be, to go where I want to go, and to do what I want to do.

I am thankful for the opportunities that lie before me and for the intelligence which will henceforth guide me in taking advantage of them.

“Mind is the master power that molds and makes, and man is mind, and evermore he takes the tools of thought and shaping what he wills brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills. He thinks in secret and it comes to pass; Environment is but his looking-glass.”

Fenwicke Lindsay Holmes

Fenwicke Lindsay Holmes

Fenwicke Lindsay Holmes was an American author, former Congregational minister, and Religious Science leader.

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