GATES OF THE MIND
THE PROVEN PSYCHIC DISCOVERIES
EXPOSITION PRESS copy
write 1964, under "Lillian Sadony" for
the second addition
ALL mankind seems to have been seeking in the very air for something new to believe:
Something that will give them proof and understanding: something that will give their minds different food for thought, and of which they are now in greater need than food for the body
GATES OF THE MIND--by Joseph Sadony
The original edition of Gates of the Mind, containing the present pages 5-90, was issued in 1948 by The Valley Press, the private press of Joseph Sadony, and was limited to these hundred copies.
NO MAN can contribute to the world more than his own personal experience, the harvest of his own research and experiment, unless it be the fruit of inspiration or prophetic insight. The works of Joseph Sadony contain a rich store of both.
Though its subtitle is Proven Psychic Discoveries, various digressions from the narrative reveal that its purpose is not autobiographical. It is an introduction of the anatomy of prophetic intuition. The small book here privately printed is rather less than a “condensation”; it contains but a small portion of the first volume of this unpublished work.
Underlying and eclipsing the narrative is a rational of the physiological foundations and scientific investigation of mental phenomena considered as
tele-empathic and telepathic phenomena of the human nervous system.
It is a conclusion of the author and his associates in research that most mystic, psychic, and occult terms used in describing mental phenomena are misleading, that there exist no mysterious “faculties” of a mystic or occult nature, but that the imagination, if used correctly, is capable of portraying past, present, or future events within the limitations imposed by the fact that the imagination is dependent entirely on memory of past sensory experience to provide the elements of its portrayal.
For example, the author claims that the term “thought transference“ is a misnomer, that it is impossible for what is usually designated a “thought” to be transferred from one mind to another mind, but that it is possible and of common occurrence to induce in another mind a thought that is similar to one experienced in your own mind, or vice versa. The exact degree of similarity will depend upon the similarity of past experience. The induced thought, however, is entirely the product of the selective simulation of memory elements in an activity of the imagination. The thought is your own, and has not been “transferred” from another mind, even though it be similar in every respect. A phenomenon has taken place, but it is one of thought induction, not thought transference.
We are living through a crisis the full extent and meaning of which is realized by only a few. We are and have been witnessing periods of confusion and revolution, not only in world politics, in science, education, industry, and art, but also in psychology, philosophy, and religion.
We are witnessing and shall witness the collapse of theories and concepts in all fields of thought. No science can continue to stand on its present foundations without adjustments made necessary by the confusion and poverty of existing verbal organization. Neither the philosophies nor the psychologies can withstand the critical application of the operational view with any greater success than the physical sciences. They will be forced to a more strict correlation of Language, Logic, and Life.
Thus we have undergone and are still undergoing a revolution in the physical sciences. Even now new foundations are being laid to complete the bridge extending from atomic to organic, thence to astronomic dimensions. The biologist must know his physics and chemistry as well as his psychology; and a psychologist without knowledge of the former is not worthy of the name. The philosopher who does not know by first-hand research and experimentation these fundaments of life and the physical universe must resign himself to his own amusement, for his mental structures can be only dialectic castles in the air.
The confusion of the age was manifest in the first few sessions of the Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion at the opening of World War II. The scholars admitted that they were confused, and that they did not know how to “think with a view to action,” or how to teach each other to the end of reaching mutual understanding and agreement. As a result they were forced to agree to disagree, to predict a pluralistic instead of a monolithic civilization.
Gates of the Mind is the beginning of an answer to the scholars on the part of a student of life and human nature, a seeker for truth and an independent investigator on an experimental basis of the operations of the human mind in relation to physiological and psychological consequences. Here for the first time is the beginning of a detailed account of a personal adventure in the deliberate and purposive development of prophetic intuition, and its application to problems of nature and human nature, science, philosophy, religion, education, industry, war, and peace.
There has been need for an effort on the part of someone capable of experiencing and demonstrating as well as observing so-called psychic and mental phenomena to separate the wheat from the chaff, to paint the picture of just what can and cannot be expected of it in the present state of man’s development; to function of man’s sympathetic sensitivities from all the technical and psychic “racketeering”; to encourage the individual development of these sensitivities along healthy and constructive lines, and to discourage the authoritarian capitalization of psychological or spiritual truths and the subjugation of peoples by psychological tricks. In this small book is the beginning of Mr. Sadony’s answer to this need.
And in answer to
those who may ask “Who is Joseph Sadony?” we quote data contained in Who’s Who
in Michigan and Who’s Who in the Central States: SADONY, Joseph
A. Founder and director, Educational Research Laboratories, Montague, Michigan;
columnist, Muskegon Chronicle (Mich.) since 1929 Home: “Valley of the Pines,” Montague, Michigan; b.
Montabaur, near Ems, Germany, Feb. 22, 1877; s.
Alexander Nichols and Apollonia Reipert)
S.; m. Mary Lillian Kochem, in 1906; ch. Joseph Jr. (1907), Arthur (1909). Came with parents to
From the view of some, a greater importance should be attached to the application of prophetic intuition to fundamental problems of science, philosophy, education, and religion, rather than to elements of mere personal experience. But to the laymen there can be nothing more important than how he can benefit by personal experience, rather than by the acquisition of knowledge or theory concerning the more abstruse problems of science or philosophy.
For his benefit, then, who cares little for the deeper problems that might be discussed at greater length, we may conclude this introduction by assuring him that so far as mental phenomena are concerned, together with the conclusions expressed in Mr. Sadony’s comments in Gates of the Mind, we are only a few of many who will agree that they have been established with as much certainty for those of us who have participated in the experimental investigation of this subject as the results of our research in the fields of radionics, electrostatics, electro-magnetism, and gravitation.
Educational Research Laboratories
It matters not who in the world of time the mind may be; Truth imprints upon its tablet its own law. If that mind is so constituted, it can no more help reflecting the fact than a mirror can help reflecting the rays of the sun if at just that angle to catch the eye as well as to send the reflection that will come to the human eye that receives it. The receiver is just as important as the sender. JOSEPH SADONY
PERIODICALLY in the history of the world it becomes essential for men mentally akin to find each other, to know each other, and in unison deliver a message of truth to enlighten, to strengthen, to correct mistakes, in an effort to avoid just what has happened to us all. But how is this to be done, if not by education? Not to condemn the methods of others, but to substitute a better way that will defend itself.
All religions embody good and have bettered the world. There are still two factors: Faith and Science; two rules, and both are evidently right. Is it expecting too much that Religion and Science together create the third principle, resulting in the transformation of the world into one human family of many children, each to his own? With Science to preserve order by eliminating fraud and trickery, there would be no fear of judging the innocent as guilty.
As man is inclined toward superstition, he naturally falls an easy prey to those clever enough to deceive his eye. In fact, some of the brightest minds of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have been completely deceived in this way. The possibility of our loved ones returning after having passed away, or at least of sending us some message or thought, cannot be doubted. But it is the unreliability of the method used to receive these messages, as well as the unreliability of the person receiving them, that gives rise to a question. The truth is often exaggerated, and the open-minded victim easily duped.
Within mankind there is a power so great that it would be dangerous to know it until we are perfect in humility and self-control. Until then it is hidden from us by our selfish, animal nature, which causes the mind to become cloudy and discontented.
Even as trees sleep in the winter and blossom again in the spring, so also does humanity alternately sleep and blossom: periodically come the fruits of genius, great minds and sensitive souls who give voice, as “human radios,” to the great broadcasting of the ages, the Song of Truth. And with their passing, humanity gradually falls asleep again until the next “wave” or cycle.
In this spiritual sleep, this ebb of the soul, is the heyday of false prophets: therein will be found the origin of superstition, in “imitation” of what did hold some truth, but is now a word without meaning, a body without a soul.
Why do supposedly great but false prophets and teachers flourish for a day and then die in obscurity, leaving no flourishing field to prove the fertility of their teaching?
The shell of the wheat was there; the words and phrases-all borrowed to feed people who do not think for themselves; and even when planted, gave up no fruit because the spirit of God was lacking, and because they who professed, denied the simplicity which was the soul itself.
Man slowly approaches the epoch of the human radio. His antenna of imagination opens that inner ear that hears the silent broadcast of the ages. It still vibrates in the atmosphere. Man’s mortal ear already hears the music and the words…
We may view this psychologically rather than from a spiritual or religious point of view; nevertheless, it is clear that an even greater revelation will accompany the discovery of a ”radio” in the human mind than what took place industrially, internationally, and domestically with the invention and introduction of radio into our homes.
The entire universe is within the human head in the same manner that music broadcast from various cities all over the world is within the radio, or within the room in which it is being received.
We forget that a well-governed and trustworthy imagination contains the tools that make education from the specifications of wisdom; that therein also are the antennae of man with which he searches for God: that aerial to receive the message; the chamber of transformation in which the “word is made flesh’; where thoughts are dramatized in symbols that are revelations if they be attuned to “facts.”
We still have more to learn of the rooms of man’s mind, to find the doors leading to that religious ecstasy, the mystery, the frenzy of the aborigines, the bliss of divinity felt by martyrs and saints, the hypnotic power of our professional men--all still in its infancy.
No one will deny facts, unless he has a subtle purpose to use opportunities for selfish purposes. Truth is self-evident, and needs no support. It supports itself. And if the pillars of a structure are lies, it will collapse. Still, the spirit of true support is ever present, so that a new permanent structure shall rise from the ashes and dust of falsehood. There are ever present health germs to continue life, even among death germs. That is the law of adjustment, compensation, and growth, the manifestation of life.
All that matters most to man is back of his own eyes, and there he flounders in the dark, thinking he thinks a thought, but unaware of the origin of that thought, or of its fruits; “imagining’ things without the slightest conception of the power and mechanism that he is using.
Surely we may learn much by watching the insect with its antennae moving in every direction, sensing the danger we cannot see. It protects itself without the great gift to man: imagination. It only acts upon its inherent power of instinct. It uses its antennae to sense approaching danger, which it avoids, but knows not its source, without reason. Why should not man have a more highly developed sense by the protection of reason, or the cause with its effect?
If the same amount of energy and education had been utilized for psychological, mental, and spiritual power as for the comforts of economic, mechanical, and electrical power, what would have been accomplished to further the progress of humanity?
There is no excuse for man to underestimate the power of the mind at the loss of his inheritance from God or Nature, from ancestry, or self-acquired. If we refuse to use reason and logic as a foundation to intuition, whom can we blame for the failure in evolution? whom but our own negligence? Nature offers us her fruits. Why are men ashamed to admit their belief for or against spirituality?
How can anyone judge or give an opinion of the power of prayer, of Christianity, or of the prophets, unless he has given it a lifetime of experience to see the answer, and then left us the records, by which we may judge?
There is much that might be said of certain facts and truths that would but compel us to search the Book of Mistakes made by those who were sincere, but too enthusiastic to allow Nature to grow in its own good time; where swords have been unsheathed without provocation, only in fear of apparently losing opportunities. If there be any loss, let us go back and see whether the purse had a hole in it: whether the compass was influenced by a nail; whether the watch kept good time as it should, or whether we were controlled by our stomach, our heart, or our mind. . . .
We are ever traveling toward the future, where all truth is born. Should we waste time in disputing the possibility of truth we think we have not, or be open to the possibilities that the world shall know tomorrow, as yesterday gave us for today?
We have a duty we owe to humanity--to those who have knocked upon doors of empty churches, temples, and schools, but not prisons. We must help men and women who can do work, not as missionaries; nor under the flags of politics, cults, or isms, but just pure, cleanhearted leaders who are handicapped, discouraged, held back--being used as steppingstones to respectability by the profane.
Why waste time, paper, and ink analyzing flavors, the taste of fruit? Let us eat what Nature has given for thousands of years; and turn it into good health, joy, long life, and normal appreciative thoughts, so that the real knowledge of life may be born normally for today and tomorrow, and not for thousands of years hence.
We cannot afford to spend much time considering the opinions or methods of yesterday; nor stop to harvest their fruits today, when we must plant for a new generation, knowing that all those who do not now understand will gradually do so as time passes, for “Time proveth all things.”
The individual awakening and cultivation of intuition is the foremost concern of all leaders and teachers who may be pioneering in the prevenience of a new era; until all education is “Prevenient education” our problems as a nation shall not be solved.
Written history contains no records of a nation in the position in which the United States of American now stands, with the possibilities in its hands for the manifestation of a spirit of prevenience that would enable it to become the dominating culture of a new epoch by demonstrating a new level of revolutionary “warfare” without muscle and bloodshed, as an example to set before the other nations of the world.
Who shall plant the seeds of the new viewpoint in the ground thus made ready; who but those thinkers and leaders who prove by their stability, adaptability, reliability, and endurance that they have been chosen by their own fertility to survive as the foundations for new structures and the roots of a new generation?
As Americans should we not fight for what America represents, as the melting pot of the world, with many laws inherited, yet obeying but one law, that of our pioneering forefathers for freedom of thought, speech, and religion founded on logic, reason, and reality, as well as (and above all) one Supreme Being of power that may be clothed in any raiment desired, but internally one and the same hub of that Wheel of Truth, where the spokes are teachers and exemplifiers; the rim, those whose personal responsibility is to protect those who teach; the steel hoop, the beasts of burden; and the movements, of the combined machinery of the world?
Things have only been partly done. The mansion is still in process. We are all but workers at the scaffolding (parties and divisions) of American as well as Christianity. When a mansion is done, what happens to the scaffolding? It is torn down, revealing the completed examples as models for a Universal Christianity and a United Nations of the World.
The two are inseparables, the north and south poles of each other, the spirit and the body, the ideals and the nation, the way of life and the government to make it possible.
Can we expect to crystallize Utopia and usher in the long-heralded Millennium? That’s not the question. It is the dream and the vision that point down the highway. Though we fall by the wayside and never reach it, we must believe in it. Otherwise we travel in a vicious circle. It is only the hope that leads us on.
The problems of the ages still face us, but today we are better equipped than ever before to understand them, if we will only discard the limiting thought habits of ancestral education, and adopt the mental tools and implements offered us today, with which to understand and shape tomorrow.
What excuse have we to neglect a progress that we may further in our own way? Who should be to blame in the misunderstanding of a bugle call-the wounded lips that fail to shape the notes, the bugle, or the man who is supposed to know the signal and fails to execute it?
Someone must hit the gong so the blind may hear the hour. Another must turn the hands for the deaf, so they may see. Why the slate and chalk, memory’s purpose and traces of the blueprint? Surely there must be many laborers to one architect or overseer. Why should we deny our destiny? If there be an effect, surely there has been a cause. If we hear an echo there must have been a voice to send it. If you or I have an ideal to express, whence came its cause? Others may try to play music and fail. Why? Is it for the want of a piano, a melody, or trained fingers?
If you have dreams and visions only, without framing them exposed to eyes that seek them, you speak a language that you alone understand. It is useless to those called to cooperate with you-workmen of the temple idle, waiting for your designs while you sleep, and they vanish. Whom do you think shall spin, weave, work in the quarries, or gather timber to materialize dreams given you, if you fail to sing your melody?
Why cannot more men utilize the gifts they really possess, but which they do not seem to realize are in their possession? Why carry the newly felled trees to be made into lumber, when beasts of burden would gladly carry them for a cast-off meal? Why all the spiritual confusion throughout the world, when there is no discord where truth exists?
How many fine minds are there hidden in obscurity at the front line of commercialism, shackled to an organization because of wages and an inferiority complex; while if but allowed to dream, away from the grinding note of gears, a new musician, poet, or scientist may be born. Give men a chance to spread their shallow or clay roots. The top can always be pruned from faults. But let their roots alone, to allow character to prove their value before we forget why we live, and how.
Why do not men of learning come together to exchange views, as pugilists do blows; wrestlers, holds; athletes, feats of endurance, so that monuments of knowledge may be like large, fine trees as landmarks to the wayfaring man who is traveling through unknown lands, the labyrinth of the world’s paths, to his home and loved one, whether mortal or immortal, and do those things of the sake of truth instead of wealth and glory? Truth itself is glorified, and so are they who dispense it.
The progress of the world’s education, research, and understanding would be so much more enhanced if we allowed thinking men to do their thinking without a handicap. Let them be able to think and do their best while the man with muscle removes stumbling blocks so the dreamer may dream visions governed by thinkers for the doers to give it life.
If each man or personality in the entire world represented an individual key to his greatest treasure vault, we would not need to fear a burglar picking our lock, for no two keys would be alike. Still, all are expected to eat from the same plate the same amount, dress alike, be punished alike, be rewarded alike, and die alike. Why not examine the tumblers of these human locks and see who should be trusted most, and with what responsibility, so that we will find geniuses to teach us short methods, instead of waiting for them every century or so?
The trouble with most of us is that we shape things to suit ourselves, according to past acquirements; whereas we should permit truth to come to us, crystallizing in its own shape; we should then try to figure out what the shape its.
The seed of truth must preserve itself for future generations in a vocabulary untainted by those words that have attracted to themselves all the odium of a confusion of fraudulence, fakery, trickery, and overgrown superstition.
The world is waiting for someone to come to teach them; all looking in different directions for another coming, save those who believe that He has already come. Does one appear upon a crest of notoriety? Then it is not He. Does he found a cult or a “system”? The Maser himself comes not in these ways-but as a breeze across a prairie where labor all notions, all races, sects, and creeds…each fanned by the breeze, and differently; each giving expression to his reception and appreciation of the One Gentle Breeze through this world: each clothing a Christ in virtues thus conceived. One is wet, and the breeze dries him. One is covered with dust, and it blows away this dust, fanning the hair from his eyes. One draws a bow at his enemy, and the breeze prevents, carrying it back to the sender. One aims with the breeze a dart just to warn, and fall short of its mark, but the breeze carries it on to the heart of him who deserved the death-blow that it was…
At best we are but cogs in the Wheel of Time, and call it “history”-which is but the echo for philosophers: the flames, and the smoke rolling away; cause and effect, blinded by the blindness of man to know neither the beginning nor the end, nor what is one; thinking mortal what is immortal; feeling the heat; seeing the smoke; combining nothing as one cause-thinking only in jets, as the beating and breathing of heart and lungs. Is it not true?
The only cause a man has for not realizing his power as a man, is that he never has tried to select the mental food his brain should digest to prove how in all simplicity his ideals lie at his feet if he will but select the mental food to accomplish all his desires that but cast their shadow before him. Let him but cast their shadow before him. Let him but awaken his gift of logic and reason to realize that to think a thing is to shape action, energy, and influence to that creation thought. For we only want those things made manifest by what we have allowed our brain to consume.
Thus we arrive at the purpose of these prefatory and fragmentary paragraphs, which is to provide a few samples of the food for thought that has sustained me in the continuation of that quest of which the beginning is subjected to both chronicle and commentary in Gates of the Mind.
JOSEPH SADONY--Valley of the Pines--January, 1948
WE are not so alone today  as we were forty-five years ago. Turn on your radio and see. And what will you say within forty-five years more? May you not then hear the whispering thoughts of loved ones gone before you within their past silence, as it was half a century before--only waiting for us to find the spiritual dial, as we found the material one, within the mind and hand of man who did seek, and who found it--but shadow of the real yet to come? JOSEPH SADONY
My mother was showing me a picture. She said, “That is where I was born, Joseph.” For a minute I looked at it, and it didn’t seem right. I said, “But, Mother, shouldn’t there be a river over here?” I pointed to the right. “And shouldn’t there be a barn besides just a house?”
“What makes you say that, Joey? The artist made this just like it was. No, we were away from the river. We had no barn. What makes you say that?”
“Well, anyway,” I said, “I remember the river, and a barn and a bridge.”
Mother said, “Joseph, you mustn’t talk like that. You never went as far as the river. You couldn’t possibly remember it. Besides, that’s where your father was born. It was his father who had a—“ Suddenly my mother stopped and looked at me biting her lower lip. For a moment she seemed not to see me, though looking right at me.
“Mother! What’s the matter? ” She said, “Joseph, you couldn’t possibly
remember that, because you were never there, but that’s where your father was
born, by the river, near a bridge. And your grandfather had a barn, because he
had horses. That was on the
Herman was my only brother, and he was older than I was. When I was seven he was twelve. He was a cripple from birth, but he was beautiful and he was good. I always went to Herman when I didn’t understand something and no one else would talk with me.
It was spring, and we were watching a robin build a nest outside the window.
I said, “Do you think that’s the same one that built there last year, the nest that fell down when the wind blew this winter?”
Herman said, “I think it’s maybe one of the young ones that was born in the old nest.“
I said, “But how would it know? If it was born in the old nest, how would it know how to build a new one? Can a mother robin teach it?”
“But how?” I insisted.
“Well, they call it instinct, Joey, but what that is I can’t tell you. I guess it’s born in them because the mother and father knew; back and back so far that nobody knows anything about it.”
“Herman, do you think we know things because Mother and Father knew them, even if they don’t tell us?”
“Well, I think maybe we feel things and do things like they did, Joey. I’ve heard Father say you are sometimes just like Grandpa Jean Marie Felix Reipert. He was a bookbinder, like Uncle, and an artist too, always working with his hands, making things like you do.”
I said, “Herman, sometimes I feel as if I could almost remember things before I was born. But just when I think I do, I forget it again. Do you ever feel that way?”
Herman said, “Well, I know what you mean. It’s like a dream. When you wake up you can’t remember it, but you know you were dreaming.
I said, “Yes, only it’s not when I’m asleep, Herman. It’s when I’m awake, and when I’ve been thinking and then stop thinking for a minute. When I start thinking again, it’s gone.”
Herman looked at me a minute and said, “You’ve always been funny that way, Joey. When you say things without thinking you are usually right, and everyone wonders how you know. But when you think about things you act as if you didn’t know anything at all. I suppose you know that sometimes worries Mother, because she’s afraid Father won’t understand it. He doesn’t like that sort of thing one little bit.”
“But what can I do about it, Herman?”
“Well, I wouldn’t say too much without thinking when Father is around. It’s better when he thinks you’re dumb than when he worries, wondering what’s got into you. Some day I’ll tell you why he worries about it.”
“Tell me, Herman! Please tell me!”
“Ssh! Joey, they’ll hear us. I’ll tell you sometime when nobody’s home but you and me.”
It was pitch dark and I woke from a nightmare in a cold sweat. I must have cried out in my sleep because Mother had her hand over my mouth, whispering, “Be quiet, Joseph! Don’t wake your father. What were you dreaming?”
I said, “I dreamed that Herman was hanging on the wall with his arms out, like on a cross. He was nailed there.”
My mother gasped and said, “Joey! Promise me you won’t tell anyone that! Don’t tell your father, and don’t tell Herman or your sisters.”
I promised, and then asked, “Why?”
“Because,” she said, “your father doesn’t like such things, and we mustn’t think of the or tell about them. But you frighten me.”
“I’m sorry, Mother.”
“I’m not blaming you, Joseph. You can’t help how strange it is. I dreamed a dream like that about Herman the night you were born, and I didn’t dare say anything about it. Because eight months before you were born I started dreaming strange dreams, and they all came true. That never happened to me before, and it has never happened since you were born. But during that time all my dreams came true except that last one about Herman. You’re the first I’ve told, because now you dream it too! Let us say a prayer, Joey, and not tell anyone.”
So Mother left me, but I didn’t sleep. Something troubled me, but I did not know what it was. It was something more than my dream about Herman; something that made me feel all alone in the world, even with a large family.
I lay in the dark; then suddenly something happened to me that I did not comprehend until years later, in memory. The vague distress of an internal conflict I could not understand suddenly vanished. In that moment I gained a new sense of identity. Yet I felt like a stranger in the bosom of my own family. Suddenly I didn’t know who I was, and lay there in the dark asking myself, “Who am I? Where am I? How did I get here?”
But there was no uneasiness in the sensation; rather a sense of impending excitement, as if I had entered a new world and could hardly wait to explore it. Somewhere in this new world a treasure was hidden, and I would find it. For some reason my heart was glowing as if I had fallen in love with something I couldn’t see. All my inner senses were affected by this, so that strong, tender arms picked me up, but I could see no face because I was suddenly tired, and suddenly safe. When I woke it was morning.
The world was the same, after all; but something inside of me was different. I felt happy about something and didn’t know why, I saw more than I usually did. I stopped to look at things that I usually passed by; and when I looked at the same old things I had seen every day, I now saw something I hadn’t before, and identified them in my mind. I heard sounds and knew what they meant without turning my head to look. I felt the urge to go out exploring, but suddenly felt the need of sharing all this new world with someone who would understand it. I thought of Herman, but he was crippled and couldn’t go with me.
So I stayed home with Herman, I couldn’t tell him about my dream, so I asked him, “Herman, can’t you tell me now why Father worries about what gets into me? Mother is outside now. No one will hear us. The girls have gone too. What is Father worried about? What does he think is going to happen to me?”
“Well, he thinks
something gets into you, Joey. And he doesn’t know whether it’s a devil or an
angel. Sometimes he’s sure it’s a devil, and that it’ll lead you to no good
end. Remember how one time you would run
off with his gun and go shooting by the castle on the
“Do I have to be the same all the time, Herman?”
“Not for my part, Joey. That’s what I like about you. One never knows what you are going to say or do next.”
“Doesn’t Father like that?”
“Well, it isn’t just that. It’s when you say things about the future, or when you seem so positive about something you couldn’t possibly know. And when things happen to you that are mysterious.”
“But nothing mysterious happens to me, Herman.”
“Do you remember the time you had Uncle take you coasting on Montabaur hill? You didn’t have a sled, so you took a ladder instead. The hill was all ice, and at the bottom was the crossroad. Uncle said a team of horses was coming, but it was too late for him to stop you, and you could not stop yourself. He said there was nothing on earth could keep you from being killed or badly hurt.”
“But I wasn’t hurt a bit, Herman.”
“That’s just the thing, Joey. Ladder and all, you shot right through between the legs of the horses, entirely unhurt. How did you do it? You didn’t know. No one knew. That was a mystery. And then when they asked you if you weren’t frightened when you saw the team ahead of you, you said no, you weren’t, because the minute you saw them you thought about something else and forgot all about them.”
“Well, I did, Herman, I closed my eyes, and saw the picture in the church.”
“Yes, I know, Joey. But you said you knew you weren’t going to be hurt.”
“I did know it. I wasn’t hurt.”
“Well, all right. I believe you. But I’m showing you what worries Father. When they asked you how you knew you weren’t going to be hurt bad or killed, you said it was because you were going to marry a girl named Mary, with black eyes and dark hair when you were twenty-seven years old, so that’s how you knew you weren’t going to be killed before then.”
“That’s how I did know, Herman.”
“Well, that’s what Father doesn’t like. It’s either nonsense, or you know. And if you know, how do you know? He doesn’t like it either way, Joey.”
So that night I lay there again in the dark feeling like a stranger, I tried to remember how it all came about that I was there, and why I felt like I sometimes did. It was the “feeling” that made me say things and think things like Herman said Father didn’t like, and Mother seemed to understand but hushed me up so he wouldn’t hear me.
I was six years old we were still in Montabaur, when there began to be talk in the family about
We all had on light, flexible suits of armor, like fish scales made of metal. There was a bright red cross on each breast, a sword in one hand and a Bible in the other.
It was fifty
years before I found out, inadvertently, that the
I did not know this as I trudged along that day, surrounded by the creation of my own imagination, a company of Christian warriors with swords and Bibles.
When I reached
the top I still could not see
So far as I know now I had no knowledge of the Crusaders, or in any case of their relation to the hill at Montabaur. Of course it is possible there was a foundation for the “image play” with my remembering it. The fact is here unimportant as the purpose of these early recollections is more to provide the background and to portray the general nature of early thought elements as based on experience.
At present this is merely illustrative of a later problem: What distinguishes a “true” imagination from a “false” one as an element of imaginative experience when it is regarded as an established fact that we can think only with what we have acquired to think with? In other words, all imaginative experience is made up of combinations and recombinations of elements of sensory experience with a physiological foundation. Nevertheless it has been established by experiment that the separate parts or memory elements may be put together correctly or incorrectly to form a true or false internal representation of external events or conditions. What distinguishes between the “true” and the “false” when immediate verification by observation or experiment is impossible?
The answer, later to be set forth more fully, is that the distinguishing characteristic of a “true” imagination is a “feeling” that must be felt in order to understand its nature.
I did not at first comprehend this, but now in looking back at many thousands of imaginative experiences of childhood and youth, I see that when the exercise of the imagination is either unaccompanied by any feeling whatsoever, or when the imagination produces a feeling as a result of its exercise (e.g. imagining Indians is followed by a feeling of excitement and anticipation), the imagination is not to be trusted unless a train of thought is followed back to determine its origin, and unless the logic and reason are sufficiently matured and trained to adjust and retouch the picture in accordance with experience, or reason based on observation and experiment.
On the other hand, if a certain type of “feeling” (which is a dominant experience throughout this record) precedes the exercise of the imagination, and in fact produces the imagination by selective stimulation and blending of memory elements to express, to clothe, to embody, or to interpret the “feeling,” we have then a type of spiritual inspiration and mental phenomena that merits further investigation, to which an introduction will be found in these pages.
experiences of a distinction in feeling associated with imagination were
largely unrealized at the time, but preserved in memory. In climbing
I did not then realize that these details characterized the Crusaders, who gave the hill historic background and a name. All the elements were familiar to me, but not the history. My memory contained swords, Bibles, Crosses, metal armor, and the idea of men who would use these things. Emphatically, I did not see the “spirits” of Crusaders walking up the hill with me. What I “saw” was entirely the product of my own imagination in which was composited various elements of memory acquired by previous sensory experience.
But these memory elements were selectively stimulated, assembled, and imbued with life by a “feeling” at a particular time, under a particular condition, at a particular place, which invested them with a meaning I did not myself comprehend until fifty years later. Whence and what the “feeling”? Why the particular mental imagery evoked by the feeling? Not in these few childhood cases alone, but in thousands upon thousands of cases extending through a lifetime: my own and the lives of many others whose experiences I have investigated.
That was the quest in which, symbolically at least, I set forth with a sword in one hand and a Bible in the other, to find the answer. I sought the truth, and as time went on I found that my imagination provided the truth in one instance and deceived me in another. It deceived me when I used my own reason and memory to speculate on things I didn’t know enough about. It deceived me when I concentrated or “tried.” It never deceived me when I didn’t try, and didn’t care, and had a “feeling” first that started my imagination going to piece together in a flash what was aroused from my memory by the feeling. What was the feeling?
I stress this because as time went on people who knew more about such things than I would say, “The boy is psychic,” or “He is clairvoyant.” “It must be telepathy or psychometry,” and so on.
And I knew they were all wrong. I possess no special, mystic, or occult sense that other men do not possess. My mental operations are limited entirely to what I have acquired and recorded by sensory experience. My imagination has only my own memory to draw on. I visualize something spontaneously past, present or future, near or far; it proves correct, with witnesses to verify it. My records contain thousands of such witnessed cases in which I was correct 98% of the time. What did I “see”? Nothing but a composite of my own memory elements of past experience.
Truly and literally it was “nothing but my imagination.” Still it corresponded with the truth. Why? Was it a good guess? Was it “coincidence”? Was it “chance”? These were questions to be answered by experimental research. At first I did not know. But time ruled out chance beyond all dispute. And I did soon find out that man’s most important thinking does not take place in the brain alone, but with the entire body and nervous system.
Truth is not to be found in man’s memory of words or his reflective visual or oral thinking. Words and memories of sights and sounds may be woven together into endless combinations. What gives them meaning? What determines the exact word or memory elements that will be combined in any given concept or idea or train of thought? What assurances have we that our ideas have any correspondence with reality at all?
Our only assurance from a scientific point of view is one based on experience, observation and experiment. How then is it possible to know things in the future, at a distance in the present and in the past, without opportunity for experience, observation, or experiment? I can only say that I have established this fact for myself, that I am writing this commentary on my early experience to introduce you to what I did and how I did it, so you too may establish the facts for yourself, without taking anyone’s word for it; mine or that of anyone else.
It requires not the use of some mysterious faculty you do not possess, but rather the suspension of the use of your “intellect”(verbal memory, reason, etc.) until after your feeling of intuition has clothed itself imaginatively. Then harness it by “logic and reason,” by all means, if you can. But you must first learn how to stop thinking at will. You must learn how to “deconcentrate” instead of concentrating. You must make no strenuous “effort.” You can’t “force” it. You can’t “play” with it. You can’t “practice” it. Spontaneity is its most essential characteristic. It cannot manifest in the realm of habit or “conditioned reflexes,” as in the case of instinct.
In the language of the New Testament, you must not try to move the spirit; you must let the spirit move you. This means that you must let the truth shape you, for the simple reason that you cannot shape the truth. Your relation to truth is direct, and not by reflective or verbal representation. You will find the truth neither in words nor in memories, but only in direct nervous coordination of the whole of your immediate sensory experience, internal as well as external.
Just as the law of crystallization and chemical combination in the mineral kingdom and the inorganic world, so also the law of selective absorption in the organic world and vegetable kingdom, preserving the species, materializing the truth and meaning of the seed. And so also the selective excitation and conditioning of reflexes in the formation and operation of instinct in the animal kingdom. And there is evidence that a similar law is at work in a more complicated system of self-conditioning reflexes as manifest in the Vastly superior nervous organization of man: a mechanism of adaptation not only to so-called seen or visible environments, but also to “unseen” environments such as those manifest in radiant energy and the specifications of future growth as manifest in seeds.
All I knew as a child was that I had some sort of relation with what I could neither see, hear, smell, taste nor touch; and that relation was a “feeling.”
But I found that “thinking” and “imagining” first created a false feeling that lied to me. It was only when the feeling came first, without thinking, that the feeling was right. And my thoughts and imaginations were right only if they were induced by the feeling and not by association of thought resulting from what I saw or heard. Sometimes there was nothing in my experience to fit the feelings that came to me. Often I could not understand them at all in terms of word or ideas familiar to me. Still I “knew”; but I couldn’t explain it.
I feel it necessary for the sake of the intellect of those who have had no such experiences to explain thus at length the view from which my own are regarded. None was regarded as occult or mystic in nature; none involved mysterious unknown senses, nor were they “extra-sensory” or “super-sensory.” Man’s relation with his environments, the universe, the rest of mankind, Deity, or forms of energy or life beyond his present understanding is regarded as a physiological, neurological, sensory relation. No responsive or imaginative activity is regarded as possible without a nervous organization with a physiological foundation. And I have established to my own satisfaction by experiment that if I apparently “see” a vision or dream, a dream that proves to be prophetic, there is no so-called faculty of prevision, or second sight. The “third eye” employed in such experiences is nothing more nor less than the “imagination” that every man, woman, and child exercises to a greater or lesser degree. This “mind’s eye” of imagination has never, does not, cannot, and never will “see” anything outside of one’s own physiological organization. Its sensations are entirely “memory sensations.” It is strictly limited to the momentary and fragmentary revival of past experiences as recorded in memory. Its one and essential power, which distinguishes the complicated nervous organization of man from the more simple one of the animal, is the power of recombination by means of which the imagination can make new creations out of the memory elements of old experiences.
Thus we symbolize; we indulge in fantasy; we speculate and theorize; we create works of art; we invent; and thus we produce a culture and a civilization. But as we thus change environments, we change our “destiny,” and we change the character of adaptation that operates in the law of the survival of the fit. It becomes necessary to adapt oneself to subtler and more complicated environments. It becomes necessary to develop foresight, a knowledge of consequences; to plan, to prepare, to prevent. We find that only those who do this survive.
So now we have a law of the survival of the intuitively fit. But intuition needs to be redefined, or we shall have to find a new word for it.
Possibly there was a time when brute strength survived, but it soon became evident that a less strong and more sensitive nervous organism better adapted itself to environments in the survival of the instinctively fit.
With the appearance of man there was a new element; intelligence. Neither brute strength nor instinct could cope with it. The intellect that could make a trap, dig a pitfall for mastodons, and invent a gun soon became king of the earth.
And then what, as men fight each other as well as the elements of nature, to say nothing of man’s own creations, which break his bones and blast him from the face of the earth? Do the strong battle and kill themselves off so that the meek shall inherit the earth?
Man now finds others than himself to battle. He builds cities, and the earth trembles, opens great jaws and swallows them up. Volcanoes belch forth and bury them. Winds blow and lay them low. The rain falls and great floods sweep all before them. Lightning strikes and burns his structures to the ground. He builds ships and they sink at sea. He makes fast-moving engines and dashes to destruction. He digs in the bowels of the earth for its riches and is buried alive. The sun dries up his crops and he perishes in famine. Pestilence breaks out and leaves a city of dead to be buried unknown by the sands of ten thousand years, which he later digs up to decipher its records. And ever and anon, as the beating pulse of an eternal war drum, he goes to battle again, with ever increasing cunning in horrible devices with which to slay—himself.
It is the last cycle; the final “survival.” And is it the strong who survive? Is it the cunning? Is it the meek? Is it the tyrant? Is it the selfish and arrogant? It is not. It is they who feel the “feeling” and act on it. It is they who had a “hunch” not to buy tickets on the ship that was going to sink. It is they who did not build a city where Vesuvius would belch forth its lava and flames. It is they who do not buy or build a house below the future flood-crest of a river. It is they who packed their belongings and left the day before an earthquake shattered their home. It is they who do these things without even thinking why.
What is the “feeling”? If we waited to use it until we knew what it was, we would be like the farmer who still uses kerosene lamps because he doesn’t intend to use electricity until he knows what it is. The wren does not know why it flies south; but it flies, and thus escapes cold and starvation. An animal obeys a “feeling” directly, without translating it into words or thoughts of visual (imaginative) representation. Man has so far lost his neural relation with reality (by having substituted a world of words and symbolic representations) that he regards as abnormal those who retain it or regain it. He invests it with an air of mystery, and represents it by misleading words of special vocabularies, mystic, occult, theosophical, theological, psychological, and psychic.
The mystery is no longer in the physiological and nervous organization of man—not any more than in the construction of the Geiger counter. The mystery is in the so-called cosmic rays that act on the Geiger counter. What are they, and where are they from? The mystery is in the source of energy or life that acts on the nervous organization of man to produce the “feeling.” What is it, and where is it from? There need be no other mystery. The organism upon which it acts is now fairly well known. New ductless glands will be discovered. Many functions and operations will be better understood. But in all its essentials the physiological foundation and nervous organization is well enough understood, in the light of developments in the field of electronics and radiant energy, to know that man is capable of experiencing “feelings” (independent of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching) that emanate from sources known or unknown. Heat is but an obvious example, as well as electrical conditions of the atmosphere.
Beyond this coordinated sensitivity of the entire nervous system no further or special sense is required. It is superfluous and absurd to postulate mysterious powers of vision, clairaudience, “psychic abilities,” and so on, when the normal powers and modus operandi of imagination and memory not only suffice in explanation, but may be investigated experimentally to establish the fact that one’s so-called psychic faculties are entirely limited constituently to the contents of the individual memory, just as the constituents of words are limited to the alphabet employed, and my verbal representation is limited to my vocabulary (i.e., my verbal memory_, unless I pause to look up or coin a word for an idea that has not yet been incorporated in my verbal organization.
And yet I have had words come to mind and pass over my tongue in experimental conditions, words entirely unfamiliar to me, words in foreign languages, or technical terms that could be found in a dictionary, and some that could not, containing information that I did not myself knew, and that was verified as correct. I used familiar syllable, however. I used the familiar alphabet. And even where I inscribed hieroglyphics entirely unfamiliar to me, it was a composition of familiar smaller elements of lines and curves, shapes and angles. The fact still described in terms so vastly misleading and misunderstood as remains that my vision of these things cannot correctly be “psychic,” telepathic, and so on. It was nothing whatever but imagination compositing familiar elements of previous sensory experience recorded in memory.
I see and correctly describe a scene ten thousand miles away. (I have done this under experimental conditions as recorded in my files.) I see and describe a future event, which occurs exactly as I described it, with only minor variations. What is lacking or faulty in my description is lacking in my memory. For what so I see? Nothing but my own imagination.
Actually I do not see ten thousand miles away with any form of “vision” whatever. I do not “see” the future. My reception or perception of these things is entirely formless, entirely a “feeling,” entirely devoid of image, word, thought or concept. What makes it intelligible to myself or someone else is the activity of my imagination, which endeavors to symbolize, portray or interpret the “feeling.”
And what is the “feeling”? That is the one great mystery. That is the quest. That is the source of all inspiration, the fountainhead of all spiritual gifts, the heart and life of all religion. This is the foundation that science has provided for spiritual understanding: a physiological foundation for a nervous organization that responds to an unknown source or sources of energy in the form of “feelings.” These feelings are neurological and physiological; not the activity of a special or occult “sense,” but the coordinated activity of the entire nervous organization. The reaction is one of selective stimulation of previously experienced and conditioned reflex arcs of memory. The imagination interprets the “feeling” in terms of memories associated with similar feelings. Thus a complex feeling is broken down into its elements by symbolic representation in an imaginative composite of memory elements. Thereby we “understand” it.
With this explanation we may hope to contribute to a better understanding of mental phenomena stripped of the deceiving terminology of generations of “psychic racketeering.” Man’s “all-seeing eye” is his imagination, and his imagination sees not beyond his own nerve ends. It sees only the “past” that has been recorded in memory. Still, by this means he may portray what has not yet been recorded (i.e., the future); he may “see” around the world; and he may explore the past before his birth in the history of the human race. And why? Because his quivering nerves are open to the universe and susceptible to innumerable feelings. The feelings stimulate and thus clothe themselves in reawakened memory sensations.
Thus we do not see the past, present or future beyond the range of our senses, but we “imagine” it. And if our “feeling” is genuine, our imagination is “true.”
Can there be a “false feeling”? Yes, when it is merely the echo of a past feeling aroused by suggestion, association of thought, and memory of words: i.e., intellectual activity in general. The “feeling from outside” can bring you information of a phenomenal nature only when you are able to suspend all internal activity of thought. The “feeling” must have an empty slate to write on. It must be allowed to select your memories, to shape them in your imagination, to choose its own words. The result will be instantaneous; and until you understand the language of feeling, you may not be able to distinguish such formations from your own thoughts. Or, on the other hand, the experience may be so pronounced that you will think you see a “vision,” a “spirit” or a “ghost.”
You may feel indignant if others call it a hallucination or “imagination,” but that is exactly what it is, nothing more. Still, it may be a genuine experience and the “vision” may be true in every detail within the capacity of your memory to provide the necessary elements.
To help you understand how this can be, and to help you to distinguish between false and true, the wrong and right use of the imagination, the false echo from the genuine feeling, I have taken these pains both to record and to comment on my own personal adventures and research along these lines.
Not everything is easy to explain, but we must avoid attaching the “mystery” to the wrong place. Within all seeds is the “design” of what they will become by growth and development. The creative power exists in the unrecorded. What has been recorded is already “dead.” Thus the creative and progressive power in man necessarily manifests as a prophetic power, active in determining what he shall be, and not what he has been.
What has been inherited or already determined as a conditioned reflex is of the past. But what selects or chooses, as in the power of selective absorption of a seed, or the power of selective stimulation in physiological man, is of the “future” in function of “time,” which exists solely as a biological phenomenon of succession in growth.
Thus there are innumerable sources of prophetic “feeling” in man that need not be the occasion of any “mystery.” In our very careless and inadequate verbal organization we speak of wishes, wants, desires, appetites, hunger; of ambition, aspiration, ideals; hope, anticipation, expectations, faith, and so on. These terms are neither clearly understood, defined nor differentiated; and means have not been provided to distinguish between those sources of prophetic feeling that are inherent to the structure of our physiological organization, as in the case of animals whose cycle of progressive activity repeats itself each generation, and those sources of prophetic feeling that are not inherent to the individual physiological structure but which manifest in human progress, which repeats itself in cycles extending through several generations.
To the latter we must attach the “mystery.” Self-preservation is not a remarkable phenomenon, but race-preservation is. The man who will fight to preserve himself or his family is not a particularly interesting object of study, but the man who will live his life and give his life for the sake of mankind and human progress is manifesting the mystery that is the religion of mankind. What is the source of his “feelings”?
But to return to my own experiences, I have found that whereas “memory is not inherited (i.e., it is not possible to “remember” before we were born in terms of our ability to recall our own sensory experience since birth), we do nevertheless inherit enough of our parents, and through them of past ancestors, to manifest a “feeling” that is capable of arousing parallel memories in our own experience. And thus our imagination may approximate some condition or memory of a parent or ancestor before our birth.
I make this statement on the basis of considerable evidence. Often, however, there is a composite of elements derived from both father and mother, so that the feeling is complex and the resulting imagination a mixture.
Just what caused my mother to dream prophetic dreams while bearing me, and not any of the other children, is something that I do not even attempt to explain. What caused me to dream at the age of seven, going on eight, on a night when I was “reborn” by a distinct psychological change, a dream similar to one my mother dreamed the night I was born one month too soon—that again is something I cannot explain at this stage of the record. And why we both should have dreamed that Herman was hanging on the wall, nailed there as if he had been crucified, might possibly be considered a coincidence, in view of the fact that the symbolism is not unusual in a Catholic family; and if we consider crucifixion to be a symbol of suffering, it could certainly apply to poor Herman, a cripple from birth.
Nevertheless I can swear that under the circumstances neither Mother nor I breathed a word to Herman about that dream; nor did we tell anyone else, on account of Father’s attitude toward such things.
We could not regard the dream as prophetic in a literal sense, since it would be absurd to think that Herman would ever really be found hanging on the wall. At most we could regard it as symbolic, and at worst as symbolic of death. But the dream of a series that had not come true, and it had upset her so much at the time that I was precipitated into the world in a premature birth.
Therefore our feelings can be imagined when Herman called Mother one day, after a spell of suffering, and said, “Mother, hang me on the wall here!”
Shocked, and thinking he was perhaps delirious, she asked, “And why should I do that?”
He answered, “Because I want to die like Christ died.”
Mother said, “But you are not going to die, Herman! Don’t talk that way.”
He answered, “Yes, I am, Mother.”
She put her arm about him, and they prayed together. Then Herman cried himself to sleep.
He never woke up again.
So Herman died just when I felt that I needed him most. Now I was the only boy; I had no brother; and I was indeed alone in the world. For my father was working all day at the large paper mill; my mother was kept busy; the girls had their own interests. I was sent to a Catholic school, but outside of school had to shift for myself.
And now I made some discoveries; first, that Herman was not “dead.”
How did I know? I could not see him, nor could I hear his voice. But I very definitely “felt” his presence. And then, of course, I could imagine him by remembering him and in my imagination I could carry on a conversation with him.
Was this really Herman or only my imagination? Well, in the first place, what is the difference between the first sense impression, and the recalling of that sense impression as a memory?
When the reflection of light from Herman that affected my optic nerves affected instead the silver emulsion of a photographic film, we look at the result and say, “That’s Herman.”
I recall the image of Herman in my memory and say to myself, “It’s Herman.”
Certainly I know that it is only my memory, and only in my imagination. But then I think, “Well, anyway, Herman is still alive in my mind.”
It was that way when Herman was still alive; when I was off somewhere and he was home. I could remember him then too. But now this was different, because there was a “feeling.” And somehow Herman, or the thought of Herman, seemed to be able to put a life into my memory and make me imagine things I never imagined before, all through that feeling.
The first time I felt it was a few days after Herman was buried. The feeling came first, and then I thought of Herman.
I imagined him saying, “Well, Joey, I’m still here in your memory, anyway.”
I thought, “Now you won’t have to stay home all the time, Herman. You can play with me”
And then in my imagination, my memory of Herman said, “Then don’t remember me this way, Joey! I’m not crippled any more.”
It was then that I realized I was remembering Herman just as he had been when I saw him last. So I changed everything except his face and his eyes and my memory of his voice. Limb by limb I took my memory of Herman and made it over in my imagination, until it could run around as I did.
And then I was so thrilled by the difference that tears came to my eyes. The feeling became so strong that it burst out of my mouth, and I said, “Thanks!”
Then something struck me funny, and I said, “Herman, was that me thanking you, or you thanking me?”
Suddenly a joyous feeling filled me, and I laughed with it.
I ran out to play and imagined Herman running out with me. I began to show him all the things he hadn’t been able to see or do when he was crippled.
It did not occur to me to regard it as anything other than pure imagination on my part. I did not think Herman’s “spirit” was running around with me. I had always carried on conversations in my mind; and now for a while, instead of talking with myself, I talked with a reconstructed memory of Herman in my imagination. The fact that my imaginary and reconstructed brother occasionally said things in my imagination that I did not knowingly put into his mouth was a fact that passed unnoticed by me at the time. I took it for granted as something quite to be expected.
For example, I would go to the woods, and I would imagine Herman saying, “Well, Joey, we haven’t seen any Indians yet.”
And this would remind
me that my chief anticipation on leaving Montabaur
I thought, “But you were asleep, Herman.”
And my imagination of Herman answered, “Not when you were scalped, Joey. That woke me up.”
And then I laughed, because I had forgotten that incident; but now I remembered that right while I was in the thick of my imaginary Indians during the coach ride, someone in the coach dropped something that hit me on the head. So vivid were my imaginings that for a moment I thought I had been scalped, and woke Herman up with my war-whoop.
School made me nervous, sitting so still. One day I began to beat a rhythm with my hands and feet. The teacher told me to stop, and asked me what I was doing it for. I couldn’t answer her.
She said, “Well, if you can do a thing, you can explain why you were doing it. Now tell me!”
All I could say was, “I don’t know.”
So she struck me over the knuckles with a ruler, and said, “Well, don’t do it again, or this ruler will know a better place to hit you.”
I sat there stunned and humiliated, with tears blinding my eyes. It was not just the pain on the knuckles. It was worse than that. I had not been long in the school, and I had looked up with admiration at the teacher. I had wanted her to like me, and now she had struck me.
Needing some comfort, I imagined Herman, and said in my mind, “Was that right, Herman? Was it right for her to hit me that way?”
I imagined Herman saying, “Why didn’t you tell her, Joey? Tell her why you were doing that. Go after school and tell her.”
“But I don’t know why.”
“Yes you do.”
And then it came
to me. On the way to
Then I imagined Herman saying, “Do you remember how you tied a tin can to a string and let it down over the side of the ship, Joey?”
Then I thought, “Yes, I would draw it up full of water sometimes. But one day the water in the can was warm. And then it was cold again. I wonder why that was?”
The answer came, “Ask her. Ask the teacher when you explain about beating your hands and feet.”
And so I did. She
was interested, and talked about it with someone else. Then she told me that
when the water I drew up was warm, we were crossing the
As time passed I took more and more to wandering through the woods, studying all living things in my own way, speaking to them and making believe that they answered me.
I thought, “Everything could speak if we could only interpret it.”
By this even as a child, I did not believe that animals and trees could speak the English or any other language of spoken words, or that they had human qualities. (That would have been anthropomorphic!) But I did believe that everything in nature had a “meaning,” like a word in the language of Nature; and that this language that we see through our eyes, hear through our ears, smell through our nose, touch with our fingers, and taste with our tongues, was also the language that was in my head when I closed my eyes and ears, and “imagined” things.
This was a language “without words,” and this, I thought, was the one language of all the world, the language of thought itself, in which all knowledge could be expressed. I was forced to this language for my own understanding, moving from a country where one language was spoken to a country where another language was spoken.
So I looked at a tree and understood it. I heard a sound and knew what made it without looking to see. I smelled odors in the woods, and knew what they came from. And then I found that if I touched something with my fingers, I could tell whether anyone else had touched it before me.
How did I know? It was a “feeling.” And then I found that if I let that feeling make me “imagine” things without thinking, I could describe who had touched, it, and other things connected with it in the past. As time passed, someone told me, “What, that’s psychometry. You were able to psychometrize things.”
I answered, “But that’s silly. It isn’t anything but what I feel with my fingers. And then I try to imagine what the feeling means.”
And then they would say, “But you described the whole scene exactly, where this object came from. You must see it in order to do that.”
But I didn’t see it. I saw nothing but my own imagination; nothing but bits and fragments of my own past memories. But what put them together correctly to express the meaning of a “feeling”?
What puts the letters of the alphabet together to form words? What puts words together to form sentences of understanding?
No one could answer me. Nor could I. All I knew was that if I stroked a thing with my fingers until I felt that it was a part of me, like my foot, I could “feel” it, just like my foot.
There is only one way my foot can talk to me, and that is by a feeling. It may be pleasant or unpleasant, hot or cold; comfortable, tired or painful. My own memory tells me why, and what it means. I can’t see my foot; it’s in my shoe. I can’t see my foot even if it’s bare. All I can see is the dead skin outside. That’s all I can see of anything. All we ever see is the dead skin of things. We never see what anything really is. We can only “feel” it.
If people were going to insist on calling that “seeing,” very well then. I could “see” better with the ends of my fingers and with my eyes closed. Also I could “hear” better that way.
To prove it, and to amuse my friends, I would hold my hand high, fingertips in the direction of a distant railway engine five miles away that none of my friends could hear or see. I would say, “It’s whistling, only you can’t hear it now.” Then, “It’s coming closer, closer—now it’s going to whistle: one, two, three—“ and whooo came the shriek of the engine just after my third count.
“But how did you know?”
“I saw the engineer reach up to pull the whistle.”
“But how did you see it? We couldn’t even see the train yet.”
“With my fingers.”
“But you can’t see with your fingers!”
“Of course not. But that’s what you insist on calling it.”
“But you must see it in your mind, then. It’s second sight. It’s clairvoyance.”
“Those are just words. And what they mean to you isn’t true. I don’t see that train and that engineer at all. I’m just imagining it. What I see in my mind is a train I remember looking at one time from close up. The engineer in my mind is one who waved at me one time. That may be him, but I don’t think so, and I don’t know. It’s the engineer in my memory and not the engineer in the train that starts reaching for the handle to pull the whistle. When he starts reaching, I start counting. That’s all there is to it.”
“But what makes the engineer in your imagination start reaching at the right time?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, I don’t understand it at all. You’re a strange one, and no fooling.”
I didn’t like this. I would say, “You could do it too, but you don’t try.”
One time I said, “I’ll show you. Let me put your coat over your head. Hold up your hand. A cloud is going to pass over the sun. You tell me the minute it does. Then after a few minutes tell me when the sun breaks through again.”
When this was done successfully, I asked, “How did you know?”
“Because I could feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. When it was cool I knew the cloud had covered the sun. When it was warm again I knew the cloud had passed.”
“Well what’s strange about that? It was a feeling in your hand and you knew what it meant.”
“But that’s different.”
“No, it isn’t different. Not in the way you mean. Of course it’s different, but it’s the same thing.”
“What a way to talk! It’s the same thing only different! That’s about as clear as mud, Joey.”
So I stopped trying to explain things for a while. I didn’t know enough about them myself.
In school, things didn’t go so well. Not that it was hard for me, or that I got poor marks. But they didn’t teach the things I wanted to know about, and they didn’t talk the language I understood best.
What I wanted I couldn’t express or explain at that time. My soul cried out dumbly what others before me and after me found words to say: “Give me the things, not words about things. Give me the thoughts, not words about thoughts.”
So I could not bring myself to study then; and in a whole lifetime of research I have never been able to study since; to study things and nature, yes; but not words and books.
Thirty years later I dreamed a dream of being a schoolboy again, kneeling on a dusty corner asleep, while the other pupils worked their heads off studying the essential oils. When recess came, I went out and had a fine time, but the rest were too tired.
This was symbolic of my whole life. I have seen more lives blasted and stunted by brain-cramming than by utter ignorance. Hence I have always preached against tiring out the colt in practice before the hour set for the race.
Man’s worst enemy is his memory, he has misused it. It was never meant to be a trunk into which to pack a lot of words and opinions. It was meant to record experience as a sample-case, an alphabet of nature’s language, like stringing a harp or piano, one string of each tone. Then any melody in the world of music can be played on it. And even from a distance the vibration of another tone will produce a vibration in my instrument, if I possess a string of like pitch to respond to it. I do not need to see, hear, smell, taste or touch it. The string in my piano is going to vibrate if someone strikes the same string on another piano at a distance.
But the string of my piano is not going to vibrate if I use the piano as a trunk and pack it full of words. The words are going to bang around on the strings so I cannot hear anything else.
As long as I didn’t learn from books; as long as I kept my memory from recording anything but direct experience, experiment and observation; and as long as I could seal off a part of my brain for a vocabulary, but refrain from using it in my thinking, then my thinking was not confined to my head. I could think with my whole body, with every nerve and organ: then I would know the truth, for they would not lie to me as men did, and as books did, using words.
I wanted the truth to select its own words, and not for men to try to shape ideas of truth in my brain with their words. This would not be true, and it was impossible ever for it to be true; for that is not what truth is.
Every argument that I ever heard was caused by someone trying to shape the truth by words, instead of allowing the words to be shaped by truth.
Fervently and deeply I wanted the truth, and I could see that none of the teachers knew the truth; none of the books told the truth. It was nothing but words, and words about words. Brick by brick, word by word, I saw the wall being built around us children to seal us for life into one room of our brain, with only two windows, our eyes, safely guarded with prison bars of words stronger than steel that also kept out most of the light; with every other gate of the mind carefully sealed by a word, so that no feeling could be arrived at, save through a word first, like putting gloves on our hands, shoes on our feet, spectacles on our eyes, muffs on our ears, and a woolen padding on every nerve end so we would be cut off from the quivering, life-giving pulsations of direct contact with the truth.
So I revolted; tore down the wall of words; threw off my shoes, both physically and mentally, and walked barefoot even where the stones were sharp and painful.
I went on alone in rain and thunderstorms, praying to God to let me feel the truth that no one could tell me in words. I promised that if He could make me “feel” the right things to do, I would always obey those feelings, instead of what other people told me to do when one person said one thing, and another said another.
When I got out alone like this, a strange feeling would sometimes come over me. When it did, then as far as I could see, everything, instead of being outside my head, seemed to be inside my head.
Looking out over a marsh where the frogs were croaking, I would hear them as if they were inside my head. They seemed to be a part of me, and I would amuse myself by pointing in a certain direction, saying, “One, two, three—now!” —and a big bullfrog would croak from where I pointed.
So far as the evidence of personal experience is concerned, it does not answer the question whether the seeming ability to “cause” a frog to croak at will was a real one, or whether I predicted the croak.
This is merely illustrative. The problem comes up repeatedly in my records, as this type of phenomena is now an established fact with a sufficient number of reliable witnesses, so that the solution to this problem is one of the most fundamental considerations in the fields of science, philosophy, and religion. To what extent does the mind “make” things happen, and to what extent does the mind foresee what is going to happen? Does the mind create thought, or is it acted upon by thought?
Has man deceived himself by extending his conception of biological time beyond the sphere of its function in nature? Does cause precede or follow effect? Have we perhaps gotten the cart before the horse in thinking that the cause comes first because of our manner of recording biological time in a reflective function of memory, where things are naturally reversed as in a mirror or any other phenomenon of reflection? How is it, for example, that in dreams the sound that caused a dream wakes you up, and that the dream precedes the sound that has “caused” it?
Then again, here is an acorn. Overhead I see the oak tree from which it fell. I know that if I plant it, it will grow into another oak tree; and if I gather all the acorns from that, I can prove that within my hand at this moment I hold the means to produce a whole forest of oak trees.
The past is “outside,” over my head; the acorn has left it forever. Yet in the same moment I imagine the future forest of oak trees; and I know that at this very minute, though the chemical constituents of that oak tree of the future are in the air I breathe, and in the soil beneath my feet, I know that the true cause of that future forest lies in the palm of my hand, inside the seed (in the future of that growth), and not in the tree overhead, (its past), from which it has departed forever.
The cause of a thing is in action or a function, and not a position or sequence in space or in biological time. The old oak tree produced the acorn in my hand, but now the active cause of the future oak tree is in that acorn as its own future, which becomes manifest by selective absorption in growth. The old oak tree is cut off from any possible function as a cause of growth in the new tree. The power of creation is the future biologically. The past is the memory of the body, the future is the memory of the seed. My dream precedes the sound that causes it, just as my backward is forward in the mirror, for a dream is a reflex of memory.
And likewise when by shock of emergency or will of intent and earnest desire we suspend our logic and reason, and revolt from our walls of words, then only our raw nerves are exposed to nature; we think with our spine, our hands, our feet, our skin. What is outside of us is now part of us, inside. We are a waking dream; we are conscious on the other side of the fence; our actions precede what causes them.
I say, “One, two, three—” and the train whistles. I say, “One, two, three—“ and a frog croaks. And one time, before eleven witnesses who are all still living as I write this (this was later in life), I said, in the midst of a storm. “Look at that tree, if you want to see something. Suppose I told you that I could make the lightning strike that tree; would you believe me? Of course not. But watch it. One, two, three—“.
And no one was more astonished than I when a bolt of lightning split the tree before our eyes; for I was in a “waking dream” at the time, having abandoned myself to the spirit and enjoyment of the storm. The lightning bolt broke my state of contemplation, or whatever you may choose to call it; hence I was astonished at the fulfillment of what I had been only half conscious of saying.
This may sound incredible, but I assure you that it is a fact of experience before witnesses, and only one of several thousand cases embodying the same principle. None of my witnesses is of a type to grant me power to cause a particular tree to be split by lightning at the third count of my finger. There are, therefore, only a few other possible conclusions:
1. That as in a dream, my speech preceded the sound or event that caused it; in which case, our conception of and relation to “time” needs deeper investigation and perhaps drastic revision.
2. That neither my speech nor the event was the cause of the other, both being the effect of a common cause; viz. the power that caused the event also called my attention to it, and through me the attention of others before it happened.
Either 1 or 2 with variations could be embodied in a theory of prophecy or prevision. We could state another possibility:
3. That the cause of my speech was not the power that caused the event, but rather a power in myself, or acting upon myself, which could foresee the event without any causal connection whatever.
Still further, 2 might be clarified by limiting the “power” to a purely material nature. For example, we say that “instinct” causes muskrats to “hole in” just before a storm; but reflex conditioned by a change or degree of atmospheric pressure associated with a consequence would account for it.
Moreover, I have turned one of my laboratories into a large electrical condenser, with an electronic ohmmeter connected between a metallic roof and the ground. The radiation resistance of this portion of space started building up one rainy day; and as the needle mounted higher and higher, till it could record no more, at one hundred million ohms, I knew without any “mental phenomena” that lightning was going to strike in the vicinity. It struck within two minutes after the capacity of the meter had been reached. Who is to say that the human nervous organization is not as sensitive as one built by man’s hands?
Still, that would not account for picking the right tree. Nor did the meter tell me what my nerves now did after the crash, when I asked, “Did anyone get the horses in before it started to rain?”
My assistant said, “I don’t know. Why? Shall I go and find out?”
I said, “The bolt was so close it made me feel as if I were a horse. I imagined a horse leaping into the air and falling down dead.”
My assistant went back to the barn and found that the horses were not in, as the rain had come on so suddenly. One of the other men was standing in the barn looking out at the downpour that followed the crash.
He said, “Yes, I know the horses should have been brought in, but I was just starting back to the pasture for them when it started. I’m just waiting for it to let up a little”
So both went back to look for the horses, and found two of them dead. One of them had leaped a six-foot fence and was several feet away without any tracks leading there.
In this case and others like it, I have had delicate instruments in my laboratory, in a temperature-controlled room, which correlated in their functions with outdoor temperature and weather changes, but slightly in advance of the outdoor effects. It became evident that the instruments were being acted upon at once by forces that a little later, sometimes five to twenty minutes, brought about the outdoor changes; thus enabling us to predict them by a small margin. Changes in atmospheric and electrical conditions, for example, preceded local meteorological effects, as also atmospheric tidal effects on temperature changes.
Thus it seems reasonable to believe that the human nervous system might be able to detect conditions on the same basis. But this will not account for all the phenomena observed. The imminence of a lightning bolt might be felt, but what explains pointing to the tree it will strike, and timing the flash to the second? What explains the fact that when a real horse leaped into the air and dropped dead, a memory of a horse in my imagination did likewise?
And if what causes a frog to croak can act more quickly upon my nervous system when “attuned” to it, giving me time to count three before the frog reacts, how does this work with the engineer tooting his whistle, or a man doing what I say he is going to do without his knowledge of the fact, so that the power of direct suggestion is eliminated? Did I make him do it; did I foresee that he was going to do it; or were we both acted upon by some unknown third factor that caused me to predict the act, and the other man to fulfill it?
All that is established experimentally (and this I have done thousands of times in the course of my research) is a relation of sequence with respect to the biological time of me and my witnesses. (1) I state what is going to happen. (2) It happens. Is 1 the cause of 2? Is 2 the cause of 1? Are both 1 and 2 the effect of a common cause? Is the relation entirely fortuitous, i.e., just a matter of “chance” or “coincidence”? Or is there some other explanation?
For example, is it possible that our conception of causality is in error, and that prevision does not imply predestination; that prophecy and “free will” are perfectly compatible if not identical, in the sense that free will requires dimension in biological time?
If free will on the part of Deity or man requires the setting in motion of processes that require or constitute time, the determination and the fulfillment of free will will be separated by a time interval that may vary from an instant in which you ask your neighbor at the table to pass the butter, up to a lifetime that may be cut short if it is your “free will” to end it, or to violate the laws of health in slow suicide of neglect.
In any case the aim of the bullet can be altered up to the moment the trigger is pulled; but once pulled, the bullet is on its way to a target that was not predestined until the release of nature’s forces beyond man’s control.
Since in every case free will does involve a time interval, however short or long, between its determination and its fulfillment, it is perfectly possible that prophecy is based on immediate knowledge or foreknowledge of the execution of free will in a determination that thus permits the manifestation of prophecy in perfect harmony with free will. Yet this has been considered in philosophic and theological difficulty of insurmountable nature, whereas it is in nature and human experience no difficulty at all.
The only difference between scientific and intuitive prediction is that in science the execution of an act of free will is known by observation or intention, and that in the case of intuition it is “sensed” or “felt” in a way no more “occult” or mysterious than the function of an insect’s antennae, but in man by the coordinated activity and sensitivity of his entire nervous organization. And whereas science is based on reflective analysis and comparison of sensory perceptions and memories of past sensory perceptions, intuition is based on the automatic and synthetic coordination of man’s entire physiological organization, wherein by selective stimulation of reflex arcs (called “memory”) a series of “feelings” is transformed into an activity of imagination that constitutes understanding and provides a basis for responsive activity of the motor or sympathetic nervous system.
If thoughts may be changed, environments may be changed. If environments may be changed, destiny may be changed, for there is a constant adaptation to environments. So “destiny” may be altered by one who knows the laws by which he can do so intelligently. This knowledge constitutes “free will” and involves “moral responsibility.” Not everyone acquires or exercises it, hence the present condition of the world today.
Most of us do what we do today because of the momentum of yesterday, or by reaction to stimuli, without exercising the ability to resist or suppress that reaction. Thus we are governed by past and present (i.e., memory and sensory reaction), which perpetuates vicious circles, retards progress, and prolongs undesirable conditions; whereas the exercise of “free will” consists of and entirely depends upon a consideration of and preparation for “tomorrow.”
The present moment is too late to exercise this prerogative with any expectation of altering the present moment. We can alter our future in cooperation with nature’s laws, by considering between two possible courses of action, and choosing not merely the course of action leading to the “most desirable” result, but the criterion by which we shall evaluate that “desirability.”
The mistake many make is in considering the “will” and “desire” as simple things. They are not simple but complex. It is possible to change the will by “willing to will,” and to change a desire by “desiring to desire” (i.e., by changing one’s criterion).
Man has two sources of desire and will that are founded in two distinct physiological systems of conditioned reflexes. One of these he shares in common with all animals; the other is distinctly the endowment and distinguishing characteristics of man. Neither of these two systems is “free” insofar as the reflexes have already been formed and conditioned. The freedom that is denied to animals and enjoyed by man is the power and the necessity by reflection to create and modify the growth and development of further reflex arcs (i.e., to make or modify tendencies, habits or hopes).
If we call this reflective and representative ability “intellect,” then this is the seat and source and modus operandi of individuality and free will. For the intellect may lend its aid as a modifier to either one of man’s two sources of will; or man’s two sources of will may engage in conflict for the possession of the intellect. The one is the will of experience, habit, instinct; the other of the selective development of latent possibilities in the seed. One is the voice of the past; the other of the future. Free will is the gift of prophecy; and the gift of prophecy is free will.
The moment you lose hope and faith, your destiny is established regardless of your will, like a bullet shot from a rifle that cannot be turned from its course. As long as your optimistic hand holds opportunity, you govern “fate”; but if you drop it through doubt, carelessness or pessimism, you are in the hand of fate’s “destiny,” not your own will.
Thus religion, as the guarantor of hope and the guardian of faith, is our only organized insurance of freedom and free will. A wholly dogmatic and authoritarian religion, however, is a religion in name only, a speculative system of beliefs, not an operative and phenomenal function of faith.
Free will is the power. What man believes to be his “will” is but a dam for the capture and use of this power. All is right until he uses his willpower the wrong way.
This is the power of the individual, of governing the polarity of his desires by commanding the animal propensities or the spiritual sentiments. Thus he determines which shall predominate, according to whether he allows himself to respond to instinct (past), or to be influenced by intuition or inspiration (future).
Man’s only escape from this fundamental conflict of choice has been a disastrous one for him (i.e., to reject both instinct and intuition), thus confining himself to the independent operations of the intellect (i.e., to a world of reflective and verbal representations).
Within this sphere of purely intellectual activity, the truth is entirely irrelevant with respect to the physiological and psychological consequences of the reflective and representative activities of the brain and nervous system. For the multifarious combinations of memory sensations create states of mind and motivate action without regard to their “truth” or “falsity” with respect to any criteria whatever.
Until we embody the physiological laws of thought in a logic capable of correlating language with life, more philosophic speculation is barren and without any probability of correspondence with truth.
Our only practical physiological means of insuring the correspondence of our imaginative activity with external conditions is by the use of special sensory organs in the acquisition of experience, the exercise of immediate observation, and the invention of apparatus in experiments. This is science.
Our only practical means of insuring the correspondence of our imaginative activity with external or internal conditions beyond the capacity and ability of our sensory organs to acquire experience, to exercise immediate observation, or to invent and apply activity of the entire nervous system as ”antennae” in the acquisition of knowledge by “feelings,” which are to be understood only by the selective stimulation of memory elements in the activity of imagination from which all independent operations of the intellect have been rigidly excluded.
This is the domain of religion, not as a system of speculative belief, but as an operative function of intuition and faith that involves and includes the inspiration of all the so-called spiritual gifts, including prophecy and all types of mental phenomena to which have been falsely attributed occult or psychic connotations.
The exercise of the latter to the exclusion of the former produces but half-men and half-truths: i.e., mystics and mysticism. The exercise only of the former produces but half-men and half-truths: i.e., skeptics and skepticism.
The materialism of science and the spiritualism of religion are each in themselves incapable of embracing the whole man or the whole truth. It is only the two together, functioning in one man, not in separate men, that produces the capacity of mankind to a universal consciousness, coordination and understanding.
It was shortly after the time in my boyhood when I revolted against the schoolroom and turned to nature instead for my lessons. I would play truant and go off alone in a storm, talking back at the thunder as if it were God speaking.
I would say, “If I call upon you, and still fail to find the truth and the true religion, it will not be my fault, because we have been told, ‘Ask and ye shall receive; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.’”
I would say to myself, “If there is such a thing as a Holy Spirit, let me feel it. I don’t want anyone to tell me about it any more. All I ask is let me feel it myself, and then I will know.”
I said this, not doubting, not asking for “proof,” but as a hungry child demanding food, not words about food and pictures of good things to eat.
When I thought this way, a tingle would start in my spine that chilled me from head to foot, and then a feeling would go out to the end of every nerve in my body as if my heart were pumping warm wine instead of blood. I would feel a glow all over.
I would say, “Thank you, God!” And then the tears would come to my eyes because I was happy. I never told anyone about this. People wondered why I was always happy, and always whistling and singing; and this was why.
That was in the spring, and when summer came I was sent to a farm to work for a man who was kind to me.
I tended the cows every day, taking them a long way out on a road where I staked them to graze. This was the school for me. I learned more doing this than I had learned all year in school.
When it was time to go back to school again I became so nervous and restless that I was allowed to leave school and work in a spring shop for a dollar and twenty-five cents per week, to help my parents.
Thus I left school at the age of thirteen, and have never been inside of one since, except later in life as moderator and director of local school boards.
As for religion, I was absent from churches as well as schoolrooms, and for the same reason: I had found outside in nature, and within myself, what they did not or could not give me.
I have in the course of my life investigated every religion known to man on earth, past or present. I have enjoyed close friendships with leaders and laymen in all faiths; with priests, rabbis, and ministers of many denominations; and I must say that when I dug beneath the words and the various intellectual representations of doctrines and concepts, I found the same fundamental, universal faith by which man sustains a relation to his Creator and the spirit of truth in a function of neutral activity or consciousness other than “intellect.”
And when as a scientist I convinced myself of the irrelevance of truth with respect to the physiological and psychological consequences of the operations of the intellect, a conclusion immediately follows that dispenses with all argument. It does not make any difference whether or not the doctrines, the concepts, and the verbal representations are true, so long as the physiological and psychological consequences are favorable to man’s spiritual progress: i.e., if they lead the various types of intellect (to which the various doctrines are helpful) to the establishment of a relation with truth in a function of faith that is more fundamental than belief: i.e., an operative, not a speculative relation with the creative reality of God, or truth.
I have therefore devoted my life to the experimental investigation and study of the scientific foundations of the spiritual verities that are of necessity and by virtue of the essential unity of mankind in common with all religions as the essence of a universal Christianity.
Because I have found these spiritual verities to be operative and not speculative; and because in my own experience I have found that they operate in mankind through a physiological function of faith and not an intellectual function of speculative belief, I urge the support of all religions with emphasis on the faith they have in common, rather than the doctrinal beliefs by which they differ, and which a study of the history of religion and the history of mankind will reveal to have been the necessary expressions of intellectual variations to insure the perpetuation of the more essential elements of man’s physiological relation with truth through the nonintellectual operations of a living, universal faith.
At the age of
fourteen I went to
By this time my
father was a citizen of the
Not going to school, I always had some time for myself outside of work. I used it experimenting; and my mechanical, electrical, and chemical “inventions” were a source of great bother and worry to my mother, who was afraid of fires and explosions.
From time to time I secured work in various trades, in search of different kinds of experience. When I was fifteen I worked for a company that made window screens. Here I invented and constructed a machine for stapling the screening onto the frames.
I used to dream of having a wonderful shop, fitted out with every tool imaginable, so I could make things. I wanted also a chemical and electrical research laboratory and workshop. All of these daydreams materialized, though some of them many years later.
During this time I began to have experiences with regard to which space here permits the inclusion of only a few examples.
One time while working for the Hall Safe & Lock Company, I was sent out to dismantle the lock of a safe that had been blown open by safecrackers. I placed a drift in position and raised my hammer to strike it.
Now came the first experience in my life in which something happened in my arm that I could not account for as an act of will or reflex to my own thoughts. With hammer in mid-air, something held my hand sot that I could not hit the drift. The feeling was not as if some outside force held my arm, but something inside the muscles. They refused to make the motion I had instructed them to do by the impulse of my brain and the reflex of habit. So I examined the lock to see if perhaps I was hitting it in the wrong place to accomplish what I had to do.
Satisfied that I was hitting it in the right place, I raised my hammer again but could not bring myself to strike the drift. Then down my arm came the “feeling” that there was something there I shouldn’t hit. So I pulled the drift out again; and behind it I found a dynamite cartridge that had been placed there by the safecrackers, and that had not yet been exploded.
This was the first of many similar experiences. Again and again throughout my life, I would have lost fingers, hands, arms, legs, and life itself were it not for an independent action of my muscles in making a movement I did not direct, or in refusing to make a movement that I did direct.
What was it, within myself or in the universe, that had the power to move my muscles without my own will, or to prevent them from carrying out what I had every reason to believe to be my will? I did not know. All I could swear to was that it happened not once or twice but again and again; and at the age of seventy it still happens—but always as a last extremity. In later years, I learned to look for a feeling and to obey it in time to direct my own course of prevention. But failing this, “something else” took over; and as a result of it, in a long life of activity, of travel, of driving various kinds of vehicles, operating all kinds of machinery, I have never had a serious accident, but innumerable narrow escapes, all owing to some kind of purposive or automatic reflex of self-preservation.
Problem: What is it? I have friends, bless them, who seem to think that such questions are answered by muttering a name.
I demonstrate to them the fact that I can attract and repel a piece of steel “at a distance” by means of another piece of steel concealed in my hand.
I say, “There you behold an invisible force. You can’t see it , smell it, taste it, hear it, or touch it. Yet I can cause that piece of steel to roll away from me or roll toward me at will. What is it?”
Secure behind their wall of words, such people say, “Why, any school boy knows what that is! It’s magnetism.”
“Do you know what magnetism is?”
“It’s what you’re using to make that piece of steel move.”
“But do you know what it is.”
“Well, no. Does anybody?”
“That’s what I’m trying to find out. Very few admit they don’t know until I drive them to it. They solve all the problems of the universe by means of magic names.”
As long as things have names people are satisfied. As long as they can mutter a sound or draw signs on a blackboard, or stir the sign and the sound up out of their memory, that is all that is necessary. Look around the world and hear the torrent of mutterings like a perpetual hailstorm. See the rivers of ink flowing onto tons and tons of paper. Man has built ships for himself out of paper, and sails out into the universe on a river of ink blown by the breath of empty words. Then when the ship of his illusions collapses, he finds himself in total ignorance. For now, without words he knows nothing; but had he not deceived himself, he might now, without words, have known all.
Some of my friends do not like this line of thought. “You can’t do without words,“ they argue, “You yourself speak and write every day of your life. You have written a newspaper column for years, using perhaps four or five million words. You can’t convey your thoughts without naming words.”
To this I answer, “But I don’t think in words, and I don’t think with the part of my brain that remembers words. I’m trying to break down the wall of words that holds you prisoner, and unbar the gates of your mind that words have sealed shut. I’m trying to show you that your fingers, your muscles, your spine, and every organ and cell in your body knows more that you do; and that here is nothing more ignorant in the human anatomy than an educated brain that has barred every gate of the mind except that associated with verbal reflex.
“A man with such a brain is nothing more than a piece of machinery; his voice but a phonograph record. It is beyond his comprehension (because he has no comprehension; only fixed ideas, concepts anchored to words): he cannot believe because he cannot personally experience what it means to stretch out a quivering antenna of nerves that pick up feelings and transform them from electric currents, which stir up visual and verbal memories and reactions, into the echoes of a past, a living, or a future voice or scene.”
It is not the knowledge of the brain that holds the hand from hitting a dynamite cartridge that can’t be seen, or that causes one to hesitate and miss the plane or train that is going to crash. What is it? Are we going to “fix” it with a name?”
A name is nothing without a meaning; a meaning is impossible without understanding; and an understanding is impossible merely on the basis of a chain-reaction on our verbal memory. An understanding is possible only on the basis of neural activity in direct response to the object or subject of that understanding; not merely a twitch in a brain cell that awakens the memory of a few words, but the coordination of the entire physiological and neurological organization.
How glibly the vocabularies of philosophies and ideologies, of sciences and theologies flow from the tongue! And how many know anything? How many really understand anything? Very few can define the words they use; and when they do, the words are dead.
We speak of hunches, intuition, presentiments, precognition, extrasensory perception, inspiration, psychometry, spiritualism, clairvoyance, telepathy, divination, superstition, faith, the Holy Spirit, God. All these words are used to talk “about” something. None of the words, as defined and understood by anyone I have ever talked with, adequately represent what they are talking about, because the words have not been coined by men who know or understand adequately what they are trying to name.
Public conception of the terms has been deformed by the operation of “psychic racketeers” who have capitalized on the crudity and the hunger of people for truth, by deceiving them with tricks. I have investigated these things and I know all these tricks. One of the purposes of this commentary is to attempt to rescue the truth, and to restore understanding and faith in man’s God-given spiritual gifts, so that “each may prophesy, that each may be comforted” for himself without being deceived by charlatans and false prophets; and without being dependent upon the self-assumed authority of others for what he may seek and find and feel and know himself.
One day when I was walking down the street I felt very blue and discouraged without knowing why. This was unusual for me, because I was ordinarily contented and cheerful, if not happy, in those days. This was a new feeling and I could see no reason for it. I did not know of anything that would make me blue. I felt that way all day, and I could not identify or interpret the feeling. My imagination was no help to me now.
That night my father asked me what ailed me. I said I did not know. He insisted that if I was unhappy there must be a reason for it, and he wanted to know what it was.
The moment he asked the question the answer was there. It was something about my father that made me feel unhappy. Now my imagination had something to work on, but I didn’t want to tell him about it, because now in his presence I felt and imagined that he was going to die, and that was what made me feel so upset and unhappy.
However, he forced me to tell him that I was afraid he was going to die suddenly, within two weeks. And then he punished me for dabbling with such nonsense, and said he thought I had gotten over that sort of thing long ago.
For the moment my father convinced me that I was wrong, because I hoped I was wrong. So for the next few days I tried to put it out of my mind. At least I never spoke of it. But early in the second week my father came down suddenly with a fever that developed into typhoid pneumonia. At the end of two weeks he was gone.
Overnight my boyhood was over. I was now the only man of the family. I went to work to help support my mother and sister.
Shortly after my father’s death my mother met friends who attended “spiritualist” meetings. She accompanied them one time, and told us at home of what she had heard and seen. I could not believe her, and was curious to find out how much of it was true.
So I went to see this medium of whom my mother and her friends were speaking so enthusiastically. I was sorely disappointed. Before the séance was over I had detected and knew how all of the tricks were done by which the public was being deceived.
Here I do not wish to be misunderstood. The fact that I found one medium fraudulent was not grounds enough to form a judgment that all mediums were fraudulent. But the fact that the first medium I ever met was fraudulent is sufficient to explain why I avoided all séances on general principles until I made up my mind to investigate and expose the tricks for the sake of the truth that did exist, and that I felt needed no “stage trimmings.”
Later on I met a number of very sincere mediums whom I judged to be honest but to some extent self-deceived. Also I met a few who confessed their tricks, and justified them by saying, “We use a trick to make people believe a truth, because the people cannot understand and will not believe the truth without the trick.”
I cannot here
include details of my later investigations along these lines, but I must say
that while my own personal experience convinced me absolutely of the truth of
immortality, the reality of survival, the fact that death does not end all, in
the reality of a type of communication based on “feeling” such as might take
place also between two living persons who are attuned by bonds of love and
affection, I have yet to be convinced of any form of “materialism,” trumpet
blowing, slate-writing, spirit-photography, and so on. And at the time I am
speaking of it, in the city of
Yet at the same time I frequently “felt” the presence of my father; the feeling revived a memory, and I could imagine him walking along beside me. I could “talk” with him by saying something and “imagining” what he might say in return.
If I had been willing to deceive myself as some mediums were, I could have said, “I see my father, and he tells me so and so.” But I did not see my father. What I “saw” was a memory of my father. He did not speak to me at all. The words were out of my own verbal memory, and I put them into the mouth of the memory of my father in my imagination. Then how could I explain it when the memory of my father in my imagination told me things I did not myself know, and that only my mother knew?
It all comes back to the “feeling” again. So far as I could see, the only link between the living and the dead, the seen and the unseen, was a “feeling,” just as the only link between two telegraph operators is the current in the wires. The click that the receiver hears is not the click that the sender hears. It is a different” click.” You do not hear the voice of your friend over the telephone; what you hear is a vibration in your receiver that sounds like your friend’s voice.
Perhaps there do exist people who think that the voices they hear in their radio are the voices of the broadcasters a thousand miles away; but of course that is not true. What we hear is the vibration of a diaphragm in the Magnavox and not the vibration of the larynx of the person who is speaking.
And perhaps people who watch the images on a television screen are really under the illusion that they are seeing the faces, forms, and movements of the players in the broadcasting studio; if so they are deceiving themselves like the mediums who think they “see” spirits and “hear” voices.
You see nothing on a television screen but the variations of intensity of a spot of light, which is moving with such great rapidity that it creates the illusion of sustained vision; and the distribution of light intensity throughout the field, being determined by the reflection of light from the players and scene in the studio, deceives your optic nerves into believing you “see” the players. But how is this done from a distance, “without any wires” and “through the air”?
Answer that and you will have an adequate explanation of all so-called mental phenomena; with the sympathetic nervous system as antennae, the imagination as amplifier and television screen; and what you see in your mind’s eye of imagination is nothing but the flickering composite of one’s own memory element.
Whether or not this “means” anything more than your memory depends entirely on whether you can turn the switch in your nervous system that reverses the current, so that the nervous system is acting on the memory and not the memory on the nervous system.
If the nervous system is acting on the memory, then your “feeling” manifests in imagination by selective stimulation of memory elements to form an “image” or a succession of remembered sounds. Then just as a seed manifests what it contains by selective absorption of chemical elements for the soil and air, so does a thought or “truth” or a “spirit,” or whatever you prefer to call it, manifest in a “feeling” that translates itself by selective stimulation of memory elements or motor elements, into imagination or action.
At least this was my early understanding of the matter. At no time have I ever had evidence that a “thought” or “spirit” could move anything other than a human organism and nervous system. At no time have I ever had evidence that either a thought or a spirit could be “seen” or photographed. At no time have I ever “heard” a thought or a spirit. All I can state from personal experience is that whenever a feeling originates in my nervous system without internal cause, whenever I succeed at the same time in eliminating all other influence, suspending all other sensory reactions; i.e., when I stop thinking independently and allow my thought to be “shaped” by the feeling, then what takes place in my imagination (though it remain only imagination, composited of my own memories) nevertheless corresponds with some external reality or event, past, present or future, without any limitation in space or time save the decided and very troublesome and insurmountable limitation of what my memory contains to contribute to the visualized representation that is the foundation of my understanding.
If this view disappoints any follower of fraudulent spiritism, let him then take comfort in the conclusion that though a “spirit message” may not be a direct contact of a loved one, neither is the voice over the radio. But you recognize the voice and understand its intimacy. Why not the thought of a comforting mother in the “beyond”?
Of course it’s nothing but your “imagination.” But your imagination will tell you the truth if you seek with a prayer (tuning in), and if you will stop thinking with your brain and offer up every nerve from the top of your head to the tips of your fingers and toes, for inspiration. What is inspiration? First it’s a “feeling,” and then the feeling paints a picture, sings a song, writes a book, or solves a problem that changes the course of history.
One medium said to me, “I realize all that, but if I tell my people that I only imagine what their deceased loved ones are saying, will they believe me? No, I have to work a trick, and pretend that the spirit writes it on a slate directly. I can’t admit that my finger does the writing.”
But to this view I could not agree. The search for truth is far more thrilling, more comforting and more profitable here and forever than any imagined thrill or advantage to be gained by deception or self-deception.
Nor could I feel that this was something to “dabble” with, like a plaything. My friends would talk about books on the subject, and tell me that I ought to read this one or that one. But every time I was tempted to do so, a “feeling” would stop me. Just as I was stopped from hitting the drift with my hammer when there was a dynamite cartridge behind it and I didn’t know it.
The only book I was able to open without this feeling was the Bible, and there I found the whole subject covered in the 12th chapter of the first epistle of the Corinthians, “Concerning spiritual gifts”’ and the fourth chapter of John: “Beloved, believe not every spirit but try them whether they are of God, for many false prophets have gone forth into the world.”
So when my mother and her friends became interested in “table-tipping” and kindred phenomena, I didn’t want any part of it. Later, I investigated various forms of “automatic writing” and the phenomena of hypnosis and self-hypnosis to an extent that does not permit inclusion in this record; and for reasons given in the connection I did not feel it advisable to experiment along those lines.
All hypnosis is fundamentally self-hypnosis. No man has the power to hypnotize another against his will, if one exerts that will. All that a “hypnotist” is able to do is to contrive by psychological tricks to secure the willingness and cooperation of the subject. The “power” is in the subject, not in the operator; and the success of the operator depends largely upon securing the confidence complete trust, or fear of the subject.
Ninety per cent of the people in the world today have spent the largest portion of their lives in various stages of self-hypnosis. The production of these states of mind in the people has been the objective of organized efforts on an incredible scale throughout the world. I have witnessed two World Wars that were directly due to states of self-hypnosis induced in masses of people by the organized efforts and propaganda of small groups of men. We have lived to witness the greatest psychological crime of all history. War would be impossible if we could break the spell of self-hypnosis that holds the people of the world in subjection to false ideas, ideologies, personalities and words, in a state of hypnosis produced by psychological tricks. We must expose these psychological tricks. But that is another story.
So many experiences I had when a young man made me realize that the ready response in my make-up was due to my harp of experience, such as it was; and that whatever confusion and error came into the picture was due to what I lacked in this respect. So I made deliberate efforts to enlarge and perfect this instrument of understanding. Each tool or instrument mastered added so many more strings, enabling me to give an opinion based upon absolute knowledge. And as I continued to add to this supply of strings, I found a readier response within myself when seeking knowledge by intuition, or endeavoring to interpret knowledge acquired only through the transference of “feelings” from others, or from sources unknown.
I would meet a stranger, for example, and as an experiment attempt to describe his father, who would be totally unknown to me; or some other person he might be thinking of. The correct description, of course, is recorded in his mind; and if I have registered one thousand faces in my own memory, there will be one among these that will now be recalled from my memory by the “ feeling” I get from the stranger. This provides me with an imaginative description as nearly as possible like the one in his mind, but which I can sense only in terms of facial characteristics recorded in my own memory in connection with faces I have seen.
These things were thus all clear to me early in life, and I could demonstrate them. But there was one thing that long remained a question mark in my mind, and that was the anatomy of prophetic intuition. For in my own experience the difference between past and future was that I appeared to get the information of the past as an inductive activity of my mind, while the case of prophetic intuition it seemed as if I were in the future coming back (deductive), and with it a sort of reverential awe, a kind of ecstasy as if just returning from a grand concert, or a beautiful garden filled with music, color, and perfume, and peculiar feeling akin to what I would imagine is caused by opium or morphine, as nearly as I could understand it. Once felt, it is always craved. But whereas drugs destroy in reaction, this seemed to strengthen, giving greater endurance, greater power, greater precision and command to all activity, both of body and mind. This is the “Feeling” (with a capital F).
There is a less pronounced sensation involved in so-called thought transference. I say “so-called” since in reality no thought, as we ordinarily consider thought, is transferred at all. Any thought that I experience originates in my own anatomy and not that of anyone else. I can, however, be caused to think a thought similar to the one that someone else has thought, is thinking, or will think; and in the same manner whole masses of people can be caused to think similar or parallel thoughts. There is only one way I know of to describe it to another who has not felt it; the feeling that distinguishes a thought thus induced (i.e., thought induction rather than thought transference), and that is to take him in a car along a street he has never seen before. I cause him to lose his sense of direction, and then ask him to check up on his sense of orientation. I ask him to make himself believe that he is going north, say, toward his home. Then I ask him to change the direction mentally, and imagine himself going south. He feels himself denying a supposed fact, and acquires the new viewpoint only after he has wiped his mental slate clean by an effort to eliminate his previous thought or belief In so doing he experiences a mental “sensation” that is akin to that experienced when a thought is induced by the transfer of a feeling, (not of a “thought”).
The acceptance and recognition of mental activity thus not self-originated requires the voluntary or involuntary elimination of previous or present self-originated mental activity. In other terms, you must stop thinking in order to allow thought to be “induced” from external influences. But whether your mental activity is the result of current direct from your own batteries, or current induced by the activity of your sympathetic nervous system in response to external influences, it is nevertheless still your own memory elements that are stimulated to constitute your “thought.” Therefore the term thought transference is a misleading one, involving a conception that is not in accordance with human experience and experiment.
As a young man I began to visit all the various denominations of churches in the city, and to investigate all forms of religious belief and worship.
There were many questions that I wished to ask, but hesitated to state because I did not want to appear unduly inquisitive. I soon discovered, however, that if I asked these questions “mentally” (i.e., in my own mind without putting them in words), I would receive the answer in one way or another, during a conversation or discourse of the ministers or speakers.
I experimented with this for a while, without anyone knowing what I was doing. I received such strange and direct answers to my mental questions that I was led to experiment in having others ask silent questions of me.
The procedure was to start a conversation with the understanding that my questioner was only to think his questions; to talk about anything he pleased, but never to state the question he wished answered. Afterward we would compare notes; and I discovered that it was often easier to answer these unspoken questions than it was to answer questions put directly into words. Moreover, my answers to nine out of every ten questions were correct. What was functioning here?
In the first place, not knowing the question, my part of the conversation was spontaneous and without constraint or concentration of effort, as was the case when faced with a direct question that I was expected to answer in the same direct manner.
In the second place, at no time did I make an effort to discover what the question was, either by questions on my part or an effort to “sense” it or “read the mind” of my questioner. I refrained from this for the simple reason that when I tried it I was obliged to “think about it,” and my best chance of success was not to think about it at all.
Consequently I never knew when or if I had answered the question until it came time to compare notes on the result. I would say or talk about whatever popped up in my mind during the conversation. More often than not it was something entirely foreign to the conversation; and consequently more often than not I really didn’t know what I was talking about at all.
This was the origin of a deliberate effort on my part to apply the principle of “effortless thought without thinking” on an experimental basis.
The result of these early experiments, however, gradually got me deeper and deeper into a situation from which I was later able to extricate myself only by the drastic means of leaving the city and seeking seclusion. Word got around all too quickly that all a person had to do to get the answers to all his problems and troubles was to have a little talk with me.
At first I was glad enough to have people come to me, without my having to go to them, to carry on my experiment. It gave me a chance to learn a lot about human nature, human thinking, and the troubles and problems of the people at large. Moreover, it gave me a chance to practice and further develop the rather unusual art of “talking without thinking.” Now, instead of being obliged to depend entirely on “images,” I began to gain a greater facility in drawing on “words” in response to my “feelings.”
But the less fortunate side of this experience, so far as I was concerned, was that as many as one hundred people per day, often more than that, would come to the place where I lived. This began to consume all my strength and time, so that it was difficult to earn a livelihood; and I would not “commercialize” what I felt should be held “without money and without price.” Further, many of the people who came to me were poor and in need, with real trouble and problems of life beyond their capacity to solve them for themselves.
Also, the main requirement for my success in helping them was a sensitive, sympathetic attitude on my part, to which I submitted to such extent and their troubles were my troubles. I became bound to them. I could not refuse them what comfort I could give. And I shall never attempt to describe what I suffered as a consequence of this; sweating with them, shedding tears with and for them; keeping my nerves almost raw so that I would not fail them; praying for help, if help could be had from any “higher power,” so I could meet these demands.
From a casual experiment I was plunged over my head into he midst of human woes, with people by the hundreds looking to me to relieve them from those woes in a world where war had taken toll again and where charlatans had risen by the score, of all types, to deceive them.
And still further, advantage was taken of me at every turn. Many came to me out of curiosity alone. I had not then developed resistance to this, and did not like to offend. So when businessmen came to me with their trouble, I was often drawn into considerations with regard to which I was not prepared by experience to understand the real issues involved.
For example, as
the time drew near for another presidential election in 1900, William McKinley
was nominated for re-election on the Republican ticket, with Theodore
Roosevelt, then governor of
For a reason I did not at first understand, the outcome of this election was considered to be “crucial” by many businessmen, officials of various corporations, and one in particular (within the circle of my “friends and their friends”), J.W.A., who was a member of the board of Trade In Chicago. The subject came up continually in conversations as the elections drew near and for the first time in my experience I found myself being drawn outside of purely personal considerations into the whirlpool of national politics and affairs.
For the first
time, too, I found myself wondering about these things. For this would be my
first experience in voting as a citizen of the
So now I took the
matter of voting seriously, and wanted to know whom to vote for, and why. But
the issues of the election were confusing. From all I knew previous to that
time, they should have depended largely on questions of principle and policy in
dealing with the colonial possessions that were taken from
But now there was talk of a monetary question again. That had been an issue in the 1896 election. The Democratic party had sought to introduce a silver standard and the Republican party, taking a stand for the gold standard, had won out. The result of this election in subsequent legislation should have settled the matter, and everyone thought it was settled. Even the Democratic party was willing to regard it as settled and concede their cause as “lost.” But Mr. Bryan, as the Democratic nominee, insisted on raising the issue again. As a result of this there was an unexpected confusion in the minds of those who took their responsibilities of citizenship seriously.
Many who favored Mr. Bryan’s views against militarism and existing colonial policies, and who were also in favor of his concept of a Christian Americanism, could not, for practical and economic reasons affecting their private interests, favor his proposal for a silver monetary standard.
Many who felt it necessary to support the Republican view in regard to the gold standard did not approve of what they called “the greedy commercialism” that dictated the Philippine policy of the Republican administration.
The result was that there were many in both parties who could not wholly approve of either candidate. As a consequence of this there was great apprehension in the commercial and industrial world with regard to the probable outcome of the election. And into this confusion of issues and uneasiness of spirit I was drawn through the instrumentality of friends and those who sought to take advantage of my mental experiments.
What immunity I might have had through my own concern as to how I should vote in this, my first election; though I had nothing personally at stake, no matter what the outcome might be. In the first place, I was aware that this time, because of the confusion of issues, many would not vote at all. I considered doing the same myself; but then I reflected that it would not be a good way to start my career as a citizen. I asked myself the question, “Is the majority always right? Do the people make the best choice?”
Suddenly I discovered that I wanted to know who was going to be elected. I had never asked myself such a question before, as a mental experiment. But now I did, I “blanked” my mind and turned my imagination loose to catch the answer from my “feeling.” The result was a mental flash of a newspaper headline bearing the name of McKinley and containing a figure somewhat in excess of half a million majority. So I felt that while I was in no position to judge the issues on the little knowledge I then possessed, I would assume that the majority were right, and vote for McKinley.
If that had been all, this book would probably never have been written, and the whole future course of my life and thoughts would have been changed. But it was not all. In the course of my conversation with a number of businessmen, including the above-mentioned J.W.A., when they asked me questions concerning the coming election, I forthwith answered now what I had never been able to “feel” in their presence, that I thought McKinley would be elected by about half a million majority.
I do not recall any special reaction to these conversations except in the case of J.W.A. Upon that occasion, however, I experienced a phenomenon that was new in my life. After predicting to him the outcome of the forthcoming election, I became suddenly confused, and felt a sense of panic and shock followed by such a feeling of depletion, shame, and dejection that I thought I was going to be ill. I could not comprehend it. It was as if a light in my heart and mind had suddenly been extinguished, leaving me in darkness. The “feeling” I had come to regard as an ever-present function, as much “mine” as my sense of sight or hearing, left me. From that moment I was unable to “feel” or sense anything. I could only reason things out. My intuition had died a sudden death. Why?
I cannot hope to describe the feeling of desolation that came over me. People came to me with their troubles, and I could only sympathize with them by common sense and reason. I walked the streets so people would not find me home. I went out alone at night under the stars to shed tears where none could see me, and to pray and sweat it out alone to find the answer. Why? Why?
The election came and went. McKinley won by a little over 800,000 majority. I bought a copy of the paper with the headlines I had “seen” in answer to my mental query that had somehow betrayed me. Then I found that Mr. J.W.A., as a member of the Board of Trade, had cashed in on my prediction to an extent that netted him a profit of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars or more.
What was the answer? As days went into weeks, weeks into months, I was to ask myself that question a thousand time, until I had written the answer so deeply that it was never to be forgotten.
There was only one answer, and I couldn’t squirm out of it, no matter how I tried to reason it out. My eyes and ears were mine to use or misuse at will. But the “feeling” was a gift that I was not free to misuse without suffering the penalty of losing it. Perhaps there was some natural law I did not understand, and which I had unknowingly violated. Perhaps it was an operation of a “spirit of truth” or intelligence, such as the Bible described.
In any case, whatever I had believed as a child, whatever I might now assume from a rational standpoint, coincident with “coming of age” as an adult citizen of these United States, I was painfully faced with the fact that my nervous system had sustained a relationship with some unknown “source” of inspirational energy that operated only on conditions; that I was still largely ignorant of those conditions; that as a child I had not been expected to know those conditions; but that now as an adult I was responsible for the violation of those conditions, even through the instrumentality of others. Ignorance of the law appeared to be no excuse.
The whole affair appeared to originate in my conversation with J.W.A. Whatever the fault, I was to blame, not he. I did not receive one penny from him as a result of his profits from my prediction, yet I was paying the price for it. And he never knew nor could he have understood the price I paid.
Other men had profited in one way or another from the by-products of my mental experiments, but not to this extent. Then why, in principle, make an issue of this case? Was it because I had given away without discrimination what had been given me in private as an answer to my own question, asked for a very different reason?
In any case, here I was with only logic and reason left to me, forced to conclusions against which my logic and reason revolted. What I had regarded as a physiological operation of my nervous system, which involved “feelings” as tangible as those of heat and cold and electrical currents, had proved to depend only in a secondary sense on the physiological and nervous mechanism I possessed. Primarily it depended upon the operation or co-operation of something “other than myself,” and I was undergoing a reluctant proof of this fact by having the primary “current” shut off. My prayers and tears and torture were of no avail. I had to think my own thoughts; the thrill of having them induced by inspiration was mine no more.
It was then that I knew what made charlatans and fraudulent spiritists, even granting that they had possessed some kind of gift. For if and when they lost it for any reason at all, they were obliged to go on by “pretending.” Because they commercialized it, their livelihood depended on it; and when it failed them they substituted tricks.
It became evident to me that there was some kind of spiritual ethics that was not very well understood. So I made up my mind that I would prepare myself with a better foundation for making use of intuition, if I should ever succeed in regaining what I had lost. And this included insuring my own future freedom and independence, with a means of livelihood that would not be incompatible with a continuation of my research, though not dependent on it from a psychological angle.
To this end I went to work at any job I could find; spent all the money I could spare on instruments and apparatus, and all my spare time familiarizing myself by experiment rather than textbooks with the principles of electricity, chemistry, and microscopy. I bought the finest microscope that I could obtain at that time; and because it was a better one than any of my doctor friends possessed, I worked with them evenings in return for specimen. Thus I started my studies of biology and physiology, having made up my mind that if the gates of my mind were going to stay closed, I would take up medicine and become a doctor.
But I did not fix my mind too strongly on this thought, because I still had the vision of workshops and a research laboratory, where, if my intuition did not fail me altogether, I would delve into the mysteries of nature that constituted the still unsolved problems of science and support this dream of pure research by an occasional invention of a practical kind.
Thus ended the first twenty-three years of my life, with the loss of the “feeling” that had led me through all, from childhood.
Exactly one year to the day from the time my “feeling” left me, it returned again; just as if an electrical switch, long disconnected, was again turned on.
What this exactitude of period might mean I did not then know. It was as if I had been sentenced to one year in “jail,” a jail with only two windows, my eyes; and all the other gates of my mind barred shut. For though I could hear, what I heard meant little. And though I could still smell the odor of flowers in spring, the experience stirred no response. The flavor of food gave me no pleasure; my appetite was gone. Things that I touched were cold or warm, rough or smooth, but I could not feel them a part of me, to interpret their hidden meanings as I had done since childhood. My imagination and emotions, which had previously been ever active, sensitive to respond, were during this year entirely dormant.
For the first time I felt the deficiency of my education; for now what had been the source of my understanding was no longer active. I felt that I knew nothing whatever about anything at all. So I set out to learn what I could while working for a living along with thousands of others who were serving “sentences” longer and harder than mine, in the endless treadmill of the civilization of a large city.
The story of that year would be superfluous to this record. Suffice to say that in that time I was reduced to the humility of realizing that “in myself I am nothing,” and that other men in themselves were nothing; that without inspiration all men were nothing but electrochemical, biophysical mechanisms.
Then what was inspiration: What was the “current,” and from whence, that brought life to dormant nerves, vision and understanding to the mind? I could see that men did not realize. The blind followed the blind, and none of them knew.
What made men great musicians, great artists, poets, surgeons, scientists, leaders, prophets? Was it the men themselves? What and whence the energy, the enthusiasm, the ambition, the hope, and faith the vision that took the clay of the earth, the body of an animal, and raised up out of the mob a great and lonely man?
And why did men flourish for a season, rise up inspired and speak their piece to thrill a nation, only to sink back to the level of a beast again, with a glaze over their eyes, a palsied hand, a pathetic ghost of a once-great man?
Only now did I know the answer, in the only way that one can ever know the answer to anything, by a personal experience. My little light hadn’t lit up a very large area; it was the light of a boy, not a leader. I was not a great musician, artist, or anything else. Comparatively few people even knew I existed. But my light had gone out. And I could see in the lives of other men that they too had flashed a greater light than mine but it had gone out.
We were the wires and the bulb, the machine and the motor; but without the “current” we were nothing but that. It required a man plus “something else.” Without the man, the “something else” could not manifest. Without the man the “something else” would be without hands, without voice, without strings to play a melody. But conversely, without that “something else” men are but the clay of the earth, and go the way of all flesh as a herd of educated human animals. And I could see that if man did not sustain a proper relation with that “something else,” it left him as quickly as the snapping off of a switch or the burning out of a light.
Further I could see that it was this “something else” that had been responsible for all scientific progress; and still the scientists could only dissect the mechanism, trace the circuits of the nerves, and experiment with the functions and disorders of the organs; but science had not yet detected the function in its own progress of that “something else” that caused even the hearts of scientists to burn with the thrill of great discoveries, which they ignorantly presumed themselves to be making because they rightly assumed that their thoughts and conclusions consisted of happy correlations of their own observations, experiments, and sensory experience; but they wrongly ignored the function of the very energy that animated them in the fusion of their memories as an activity of understanding, failing to realize that without this inspiration they could not have been led to make the discovery: that it was not “accidental,” as they thought; and that were it not for the “something else,” they would have gone the way of all the uninspired on the endless treadmill of the world’s repetition of routine.
And still further I could see that religion had developed a vocabulary with which to do a lot of talking and preaching about this “something else,” which had shown what it could do with men now dead for centuries, but seemed careful not to imply too strongly or to encourage the expectations that even granting the omnipotence of that “something else” it can do the same things today.
If the sun had gone out, whence the heat and life of earth and man at this moment? But with my own light out, I could understand the past tense of religions from which the light had fled: living on memories, doctrines and speculative beliefs. What else was left? What indeed could we do but cling as best we might to a lost faith that, having ceased to be operative physiologically, had become a legend, where people worshiped at an empty grave that was but a reflection of their own lives, from which the living, vibrant “something else” had fled, leaving but an echo and a “word”?
So I who had stayed outside of the churches that could not feed me with a living God, to fill every nerve with life and understanding; I who had said, “Fill me with the spirit if there is such a thing; don’t talk to me about it”—now I could understand. My heart ached for us all. I, too, now lived on a memory that began to fade like an echo without a voice to sustain it.
I say all this in the hope of conveying some understanding of what it meant to be released again from the prison of my own skull; the gates of my mind flung open once more, dormant nerves alive again, so that the whole universe from which I had seemed to be a separate thing now seemed to be inside, instead of outside my head. The moon, the sun, and the stars, the trees and the people, I saw in that moment seemed to be as much a part of me as my own hands and feet.
I shook hands with a friend, and suddenly felt a pain in the lower right side of my abdomen. Not having seen him for some time I asked him how he was, and he told me he had ruptured himself lifting a heavy packing case.
I was introduced
to a man and a woman, total strangers to me. When I looked at the head of the
man I imagined for an instant that it resembled a long, high bridge. When I
looked at the woman, for a moment her face seemed to me to be that of an old
man holding a violin under his chin. When I laughingly told them about it, the
man said, “That is strange I am working on the specifications for a new ridge
The woman said,
“Why, whatever made you say that? I never heard of such a thing! I have been
thinking of just such a man. I met him at a musical in
A man was brought to see me by a friend who said, “Joseph, this man has heard of your mental experiments and would like to talk with you about them.”
When I shook hands with him, a feeling of cold crept up my arm like a cold draft that went all through me and chilled me from head to foot. I was hard put to it to complete the handshake courteously, without betraying my revulsion to the feeling.
During the meaningless formalities of opening a conversation, I kept asking myself, “Now what does that mean? What does that feeling mean?” But my mind went blank, and produced no answer. That was the answer, and I didn’t know it at first.
The man said, “I thought perhaps you could tell me something of what I ought to do. I have become confused in my mind, and the doctors can’t help me with it. They don’t find anything wrong with me physically.”
I said, “Well, I can tell you what you are going to have to do, if you don’t let up a little, and take better care of yourself. You are going to have to take a long rest.”
“Do you think I should quit working for a while?”
“Try it for a week,” I said, “And then let’s talk about it again. Take a week off at once, and just rest. Then come to see me.”
But I never saw him again. My friend told me that he dropped dead at his work, having arranged to finish the week out before taking a vacation.
Thus began a long period of adjustment between myself as a physiological mechanism, of which I now had a better knowledge, and the rest of the universe in connection with which there was “something else” that appeared to be establishing a relation with my imagination and memory through the involuntary nervous system.
It was not all clear sailing, and I proceeded with a caution I had not exerted before, as I was determined both to test out its limitations, or perhaps I had better say my limitations, and still avoid losing it again.
There appeared to be a “code” or language of “feeling” combined with mental imagery by which I could learn to extend the range of my interpretation of conditions. For example, the cold draft up the arm, and the inability to imagine anything when death was near, and there was nothing that could be said or done.
Then, too, there were lessons to be learned regarding the conditions necessary to sustain a cooperative relation between the voluntary and the involuntary nervous systems. Perhaps it was well not to spend time theorizing about it, but rather merely to state a few of the facts.
Some of my friends thought I had suddenly developed a “conscience,” but I had given that considerable thought, and I knew it was not what they meant by the word. Conscience to most of them was merely a matter of childhood training as to what was right or wrong; and later in life, a social conscience based on public opinion and fear of criticism, “what people would think,” and so on.
On the other hand, there is a private conscience of moral arbitration that governs conduct even in solitude on the basis of self-respect, ideals, and aspirations. With this type of conscience I was acquainted from childhood. No, what I was now experiencing was a period of systematic training (call it self-training, if you wish), in which my voluntary nervous system was obliged to place itself in submission to the involuntary nervous system for self-preservative reasons.
The bargain that intuition seems to drive is that it will serve you if you serve it. You must obey your intuition to cultivate it, to develop it, and to retain the use of it. This is a voluntary act. In colloquial language, you have a hunch, and the hunch is an involuntary experience. Whether or not you obey it is up to you. If it is a real hunch, or intuition, you will inevitably regret it if you do not. These experiences will increase in frequency if you obey them; and if you don’t they will cease altogether. This is evident from case histories.
But to complete the transaction one must go further than that. One must recondition the entire system of reflexes that constitute habit, so that neither habit nor sensory stimuli nor the influence or suggestions of environments, thoughts, desires, or purposes of other people can interfere with the function or execution of your intuition of your relation between your inner self and that universal “something else.” That must come before all else—“or else,” in the final transaction.
If this had not been the case to some extent with myself previously, I would have hit the drift with my hammer at the time when it would have exploded the dynamite cartridge I didn’t know was there. In that and many other cases where I was not alert to exercise any caution of intuition, I would not be here to write this record if my involuntary nervous system had not been responsive to “something else” besides my own will, knowledge, experience, or senses. My arm refused to obey. On other occasions it had done just the reverse, by making a sudden movement, to my own astonishment, to prevent an accident that I had failed to prevent by a voluntary intuitive alertness.
So now this proclivity appeared to be undergoing a period of calisthenics in a series of minor issues. I would start to smoke, and experience a feeling not to do so. If I heeded it, well and good. If not, my hand would drop or throw the match away before I could light up. I have never felt required to stop smoking, but I was definitely stopped from inhaling the smoke, limited in amount, and prevented upon occasion.
I have never been a drinker, and all my life have believed and practiced moderation in all things. Therefore an occasional drink was always in order. But now I had the occasional experience (apparently as a sort of involuntary “exercise”) of having a glass in my hand but being unable to drink it.
One day I was asked to join a group on an excursion into the country, and the prospect pleased me. A day in the country away from the city was something that I would enjoy. I had “Yes, I would be glad to go” already framed and on the way to my vocal cords, but it came out, “No, I’m sorry. I can’t go.”
That stumped me. There was no logical reason. I wanted to go. I couldn’t answer and did not feel like making false excuses to the one who was urging me, so I merely smiled and shook my head. This met with an argument. Why did I “spoil the party,” and so on. They thought me stubborn. I said I would be glad to go, that I really wanted to go, but not just then. If they would wait until the day after tomorrow, I would go; but not the next day.
So the whole trip was postponed in order to have me go with them. Next day the train we would have taken was derailed in a gulley; three were killed and many injured.
This was my wages, and countless other occasions like it, for “playing the game” that developed and conditioned involuntary reflex actions to the promptings of an intuitive feeling. If I had not allowed myself to respond to the reactions that threw a match away before I could light a smoke, and stopped my hand before it could raise a drink to my mouth, I would have been without that hand and perhaps my eyes from an explosion, and I would have said what I tried to say, “Yes, I would be glad to go,” and we would all have been on the train that was wrecked.
And still, it is interesting to note that in “playing the game” above mentioned, I have in the long run never been disproved of anything, but have been merely reduced to moderation in all things. First, however, I had to demonstrate a willingness to give up anything and everything, to do things I did not want to do, and to refrain from things I did want to do—all to the end of clearing the road for the greater freedom.
Friends have thought that I was obeying an “impulse.” No, it is not that. It is an intuitive determination to follow an inspired thought. The thought is my own, an activity of my own mind and nervous system, but an activity that would not take place unless it was induced by a feeling that constitutes inspiration, and that emanates from “something else,” not my own.
I have utterly failed from the viewpoint of science and psychology to be able to account for the results of experiments in field or laboratory without that “something else.” I find by investigation that men who can do so on a purely mechanistic basis are themselves merely talking machines confined to the electrical recordings of their verbal memory. My radio is mechanistic also, but it has to have a “broadcasting station”; and that is the “something else.”
I confess there are no “call letters” to the human radio “station.” I do not know what or who or where the “vibrations” or radiant energy comes from that is transformed into an activity of the imagination by means of selective stimulation of memory elements, but I do know that, so far as I am concerned, together with my associates through many years of research, on the basis of experience, observation, and experiment, on an operational, not a theoretical scientific, basis, we have established the fact for ourselves that man’s survival and progress on a level superior to that of an intelligent animal depends entirely upon his rising above the level of a talking machine and establishing a relation as a “receiver” to “something else.”
Name it what you please, it will still be the source of all inspiration, all great art, music, literature, culture, and scientific discoveries. And it will still be what has produced the world’s scriptures and spiritual concepts. All the evidence we can deduce today tends to establish the fact that one Jesus of Nazareth and His apostles knew what they were talking about; and that the mental activity of those who think otherwise is confined to the reflective operations of the sensory and verbal memory. This is indeed a self-sufficient “mechanism,” and that only, but without any dependable relation with truth or the rest of the universe, unless it is responsive to the “something else” that has the power to shape out of the sensory and verbal memory an activity of the imagination that corresponds with or portrays not only past and present, near and distant, but also future facts.
This is something that each individual may test out for himself. It is possible for any and every human being to “prophesy,” if he will fulfill the conditions. The survival of our Christian civilization depends on it. It cannot survive on the basis of doctrinal beliefs or a legendary, speculative faith. It must be an operative faith, rooted in a physiological inspiration of prophetic intuition that will restore to mankind his heritage of spiritual gifts.
This is the inner nature of the present historic crisis, and I foresaw this crisis and described it more than fifty years ago. The survival of our Christian-American civilization and democratic way of life depends on it. Christianity will survive, but not the speculative churches, and not our democratic way of life unless history is supplemented by prophecy; and unless a doctrinal God is supplanted by a living God and a phenomenal “something else” that can enter our lives through our nervous system on a basis at least equal to that of the radio broadcasting that now perpetually enters our ears.
I have for half a century since the early period that serves the purpose of this commentary lived my life to discover, to prove, and to exemplify this truth, and the conditions that make such a relation possible. But that is still another story. And it includes the finding of Mary Lillian, the building of my home and laboratories in the Valley of the Pines, the birth of my sons, and the records of my search and research for the truths we understand and live by.
(FIRST EDITION ENDED HERE)
I felt that the time had come to sink roots and grow the tree that might provide shade and shelter and fruit for those who sought what I had found.
My unspoken prayer was “Show me the way, and I will follow it.”
Then, as in a dream, I saw a road stretch out before me. It entered a city but did not end there. It led to the shore of a large body of water. Over the water I saw a tiny finger of light, like the beacon of a lighthouse coming from the opposite shore.
In my imagination it seemed that all I need do was to look and think in order to acquire the power of locomotion in the direction of my gaze. So I imagined myself flying, as a sea gull, out over the water, drawn onward by that beacon of light.
As I neared the other shore, in this evening flight of imagination, I saw a little stream that the light illuminated. From a small inland lake this stream ran parallel with the shore through a pond into a shallow valley between a hillside of timber on the left, and more gently sloping hills of pastureland on the right.
I made a diagram of this visionary valley in my notebook, and wrote beneath it, “This is my valley. I am now going home.”
Then I set out in
search of it. I did not doubt for a moment that it existed. But I did not
immediately find it. I went to
I looked down and said to my companions, “Someday I am coming back here again, and even now I can see how it will look then. All that we see from here will be filled with streets and building, homes, streetcars. And at night it will be ablaze with lights like the reflection of stars in a mirror. We could stay here and become a part of all that progress. We could own land here and become wealthy. But at what price? Are we to be as other men? Or shall we do what other men have never thought of doing, and discover things they little dream exist?”
I knew then that this was not the hillside of my vision. I knew that the valley of my dream must remain undesecrated by the world for another half a century.
It was Valentine’s Day, and I had promised to spend the evening with Mother at the home of my sister Bertha and her family. They had built an apartment building and lived in one of the apartments, on the second floor. A few friends were expected to join us.
As I stood outside before going in, I saw someone in the lower apartment. I caught just a glimpse of a pair of large, dark, calm eyes beneath a clear, white brow. It was the face of a girl prematurely poised, like the portrait of a virgin newly emerged from the chrysalis of a childhood that lingered still like haunting, half-forgotten memories.
I thought: Where have I seen her before? But no answer was forthcoming, save that I had never seen her before. No such person had been in the neighborhood before I had gone west.
I shrugged to myself and dismissed the thought. But it was not to be dismissed so easily. Those dark eyes haunted me. Moreover, they seemed to challenge me, and I could not define why.
I thought: How deceiving their calmness, like the surface of two deep pools in the starlight. What fire, what pride, what depths of hurt or loyalty were hidden there?
A little later, when I was upstairs, I asked my mother, “Who lives below here?”
She said, “A young friend of mine and her mother. She visits with me often, and we sew together. I have been telling her about you, Joseph. I want you to meet her and talk with her. She is such a fine, sweet girl, much too young to be working all day every day helping to support her mother, and working at home besides. She does not have the social life that she has been accustomed to, and that she should be having right now. Perhaps you can help her and advise what she ought to do. She would not ask it. She is too proud for that. But you will do this for me?”
“How old is she, Mother?”
“She is sixteen or seventeen, but you would think she was older by her actions. She has the poise of twenty, and a quiet determination that exceeds mine. I often wonder at the nimbleness of her fingers and the things she is able to do so quickly and quietly that you hardly know she has done them.”
“You have not yet told me her name, Mother.”
“Haven’t I, Joseph? Well, it is Lillian. I shall ask Bertha to invite her up here this very evening, if she will come, and you will see for yourself what I mean.”
So for Mother’s sake—and for absolutely no other reason—I found myself facing a slim, dark-haired little lady whose proud but graceful carriage and long, black eyelashes might have stepped out of the family portrait of a southern cavalier planter and his children before the Civil War.
From her black eyes, so clam, so poised, so indifferent at first, there now sparkled a flash of mingled amusement and defiance.
I exclaimed, “But your name should have been Mary!”
“Well,” she admitted, “my full name is Mary Lillian.”
“Then what are you doing this far north?” I asked her. “You are a southern girl, or I’ll never make another guess about anything.”
“Yes, that is
true. I was born and reared in
I laughed. “Of course that’s true. But I felt you were a southern girl at the same time I knew from your eyes that your name should be Mary. If one was right, I knew the other was right—and something else besides. You didn’t want to talk with me, did you?”
At this she smiled, and said, “Well, I didn’t believe all they told me.”
I said, “I hope you didn’t!”
She added, smiling quizzically, “Because if it were all true—well, it just couldn’t be true, that’s all. No one could know things like they say you do. And if they did, I would not want to know them. Imagine how I would feel right now if I thought you could know all my past, and what I am thinking, and what is going to become of me!”
I said, “If I tell you the truth about all that, will you keep it a secret?”
Surprised and suddenly serious, she said, “Certainly. I will not mention anything you tell me, but I do not ask you to tell me anything.”
“Well, the truth is that I don’t know any of the things people think I do, If I told you all about your past, I would not know what I was talking about. I might sense your thoughts, but I don’t try and I don’t pry. If it is given to me to see a vision for your future, it is not I, for I have no such vision of myself. I am only a little messenger boy delivering a wireless telegram. I don’t even open it to read it, and try to remember it and understand it myself. Can you understand that?”
“I don’t know. I’ll have to think about it. I’ll try.”
“Then maybe I can help by showing you what I mean. I don’t know anything of your past, but it is given me to realize by intuition that from the day of your birth up to now there has not been one single thing you have ever done or thought that you need be ashamed of. I see tears, because you have lost things in life that were dear to you. Through no fault of your own you have been deprived of much that should have been yours, in home environment and advantages. Your loyalty has robbed you of girlhood days and personal advancement. As I told you, I don’t know what I am talking about, but you do. Don’t you?”
She looked at me with wide eyes, her breath suspended. She whispered, “Yes.”
“And to show you that details are possible, though we won’t go into them, what happened to one of your three rings, the one you did not bring with you?”
“Why didn’t you have it repaired?”
“Because it was hardly worth it. The ring wasn’t very valuable.”
“Oh, but it was. You knew those were real emerald, didn’t you?”
“Yes.” She said. “Yes, I knew it, but I don’t see how you did, since I said it wasn’t valuable.”
“Well, there you are,” I smiled at her now. “I didn’t know it. I didn’t have the slightest idea that you even owned a ring, or that the stones were emeralds, until it popped out of my mouth, and I heard myself telling you about it. Do you begin to understand how it is?”
She took a deep breath, and said, “It sounds so simple when you say it, but it will take me longer than this to begin to understand how it is.”
“Well, all that matters right now, Mary Lillian, is that you realize that I do not claim to know these things myself, but when they come to me, if they do, they are true. That is the only reason for mentioning things that you already know. Now I will tell you something I see that you don’t know. I am only doing this so you will stop worrying like you sometimes do, without anyone knowing about it. You don’t need to worry about anything in your future. About a year from now you will have a home of your own, and everything will be changed.”
“You mean I will be married?”
“Yes, you will be married before that time.”
“Won’t I be in
“No, you will not be living in any city.”
“Oh!” she exclaimed. “But I won’t live on a farm! I’ve always said that I would never marry a farmer! If I had to live on a farm, I would never marry at all!”
“Well, I agree that you will never be a farmer’s wife, but you will live in the country. It will not be a farm, exactly, but a beauty spot, with woods and a stream, near a lake. You will have flower gardens all about, and if there is any farming it will be only a kitchen garden for your own use, with pasture for cows and horses, so that you will have fresh milk and riding horses. Of course, you will visit the city from time to time, and later in life will travel. The older you get, the more beautiful you will become; and the best part of your life will come last.”
After that Mary Lillian was often present of an evening in a group with her mother, my mother and sister, or a few friends. We grew to know each other, but it was a growth as intangible as that of the roots of a tree. In silence, and without even the touch of our hands, the unseen waves of understanding played between us. When the conversation of others took a turn that amused us, or bored us, or exasperated us, a brief glance at each other, a single flash of eyes, fully conveyed our view to each other. We had expressed ourselves; we had been understood; we were strengthened; we felt relieved.
With the summer
ahead, I announced my intentions of going camping in
On the south side
Mary Lillian and her mother came over to spend the last two weeks in June with us, and there, with the wind rustling in the pines, with the water softly lapping the shore at sunset, with the fragment smoke of wood burning in our campfire, the alchemy of nature completed her binding. Yet nothing was said to reveal it. But when they left I knew the time had come. I was so lonesome that everybody noticed it, and concluded the reason. A pall settled over the whole camp. Finally, the others all talked it over behind my back, and decided that the best thing to do was to send someone across the lake to bring Mary Lillian back again. But the moment I knew what they were planning, I put an immediate stop to it. I saw a quaint and wistful vision of a little lady stepping out of the pages of history to whisper, “Why don’t you speak for yourself, John?”
So I went back to the city, myself.
When Mary Lillian saw me she did not ask why I had come. I held out my hand and she placed hers within it. I said, “Come,” and she followed me out into the summer evening.
Then she looked up into my eyes, and asked, “When?”
I said, “Now and forever.”
We were married on July 3. Then I brought her back to camp again.
I had placed a
diagram and description of the kind of place I was looking for in the hands of
real-estate agents. It was not long before one of them, Frank Pryor of
Montague, told me, “You know, there is such a place as you describe just north
“How much land is there?”
I said, “It’s mine. How much is it worth?”
“Hold on a minute,” said Mr. Pryor. “I’m just telling you that there is such a place. But it’s not for sale.”
“Take me out to see it. I want to talk with the owner.”
“But no one lives
there. The owner lives in
“Then wire him an offer of thirty-five hundred dollars cash for it. That is all I can raise just now.”
The offer was accepted. The place was ours. But it was the next March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, before we arrived bag and baggage, horse and wagon, to take possession.
From the crest of
the hill overlooking the valley we faced another hillside covered with a stand
of nearly virgin pine timber. At the foot of the hill a little creek wound
south, to the left, through marshland and groves of cedar trees into a pond or bayou,
beyond which could be seen and heard the waves of
There was no mistaking it. This was it. The Valley of the Pines—and the valley of my vision.
Then one day as spring slipped into summer, Mary Lillian whispered to me, “It won’t be long now. He kicks like a boy. I think we’re going to have a mechanic!”
The night watch began while an electrical storm was gathering its forces. Thunder and lightning had always terrified Mary Lillian, but now there was a different look in her eyes. As the hours crept by, I could almost see the white mantel of motherhood descending upon her.
The whole house shook with reverberations of thunder, which somehow seemed determined to emphasize this night as a special event in our lives.
At ten thirty the storm reached a climax in one terrific bolt of lightning. It struck so near the house that the sound of the concussion that nearly deafened us was simultaneous with the wake of the bright flash that lit up Mary Lillian’s pale face. She caught her breath, and I thought for a moment that she was going to scream, but she did not.
I rose to go to her, but the doctor pushed me aside, because he was busy.
Joseph Junior had entered the world.
When the doctor had gone and she was resting more easily, with the baby in her arms, we looked at each other without saying a word. I reached out my hands and she understood instantly. She laid our son in my arms.
It was only a symbol, but I could not find the words to explain it. So without saying anything, I raised the child toward the ceiling as if offering it to the Most High. I heard only a murmur from Mary Lillian, but I knew that she understood me, for she whispered, “Amen!”
Somehow, as time went on, the world beat a path to our door, until we had to build a large gate across the road leading into the valley, and keep it closed except to those who came by invitation.
We never allowed much publicity, but a friend would bring or tell a friend who told a friend . . . and finally I began to receive letters from all over the country, and other countries, questioning me along the line of mental phenomena and intuition. And I, in turn, began questioning others about their views and experience, until a large correspondence became part of my research, in which I would ask others in all parts of the country to check whether there was any foundation to things that I sensed.
I used to keep track of this correspondence by sticking pins in a globe and on maps, in some seven hundred cities in forty countries. Often in the evenings or late at night, I would look at those pins and let my eye be drawn to one of them in connection with a feeling that someone was thinking of me, or that someone was ill, or dying, or in trouble. If I could sense or figure out who it was, I would write and ask them to confirm it, if that was the case.
Sometimes, too, my eye would be drawn to some other part of the map, where there were no pins, where there was no one I knew, or had ever contacted; yet I would imagine a fire or a storm or a ship sinking, and then express this to witnesses who would watch the news to see whether I was right.
Again and again through the months, the plight of people on sinking ships, of miners trapped and doomed to death in mines, of planes out of control, of individual tragedies forced themselves unsought upon the screen of my mind. It ceased to be a problem of establishing the facts, but rather of gaining and providing a better understanding of them, so that, perhaps, some day—who knows?—there might be developed a sort of clearing house for amateur “human radios,” as there now began to appear for wireless and amateur radio “hams.”
Would it ever prove practicable for human sensitivity to be harnessed and directed to do some good in the world, to prevent things that are sensed, or to go to the rescue of men who would die unheard and otherwise without help? Some system of sifting out false thoughts would have to be developed, so that a thousand groundless fancies need not interfere with the evaluation and function of one truly intuitive thought. If we could “pool” our intuitions, one might supplement the other, and in the strength that comes from union a great deal of good might be accomplished. But working alone, the only purpose that has been served by a great many of my own intuitions was the satisfaction of my own research and the enlightenment of a few friends.
For example, during the latter part of March 1912, Charley Abel was helping me put a star clock on a little tower we had built on the hill overlooking the Valley of the Pines. For several evenings we adjusted the clock, checking the hours in connection with the advance of the date.
One evening I began to feel excited, and wondered why. It occurred to me that if we watched closely and did not fall asleep between times, we might see a meteor. I spoke of this to Charley, and we watched for three or four hours, but nothing happened. Charley would doze off, and I would wake him, saying, “Keep awake, Charley. This is something you will never see again.”
To myself I wondered why the feeling of excitement persisted over seeing a meteor. I had seen hundreds of them flash across the sky.
But never before,
and never since, have we seen anything like what we saw toward midnight that
very evening. From northeast to southwest, a large ball of flame (which I
assumed was a meteor) shot diagonally downward toward
Later, while still looking at the stars and talking about it, Charley wanted to know how I knew we were going to see a thing like that.
I answered, “I didn’t.”
He said, “But you told me to watch for it.”
“Yes, but I didn’t know it would be like that. I only felt that something was going to happen.”
‘What made you feel that way?”
What we were doing, I guess, working on this clock and watching the stars. We were looking north. Now when I look south, it is different.”
“Yes. It’s warmer, isn’t it? It’s pretty cold up here still. Looking south makes me feel warmer, even thinking about it.”
I said, “You stop too soon. When I look south feeling cold like this, it makes me think of men freezing to death in the Antarctic. But there you are. If we weren’t standing here, I wouldn’t be thinking of it. So what makes one think of anything? Just because we are talking about it now, I can feel the thoughts of a man in a little tent in the Antarctic. He is dying, and he has no fuel or food. He’s trying to write, but can hardly hold the pencil in his hand. He has been badly disappointed, and now he feels entirely hopeless. He has been to the pole, but someone got there ahead of him. There were dog tracks and a tent with letters in it.”
Charley asked, “Is he all alone?”
I said, “I think there were five in all, but now only three are left. They are all wrapped up in some kind of sleeping bags. They don’t much care what happens to them. They feel that they have suffered and sacrificed for nothing.”
Suddenly, I felt horribly depressed, and said, “Oh, it’s too bad! Only one of them is left alive right now. The other two are dead, and he knows it. He could save himself, but he really doesn’t care. He knows it is the end, and does not fear it, but he is heartsick. He keeps on writing, and I feel a pain in my kidneys and bladder when I think of him. He knows that only a few miles away is warmth and safety. He wonders if anyone can know his thoughts, and the reason he wonders is because he senses that someone does.”
All of this made me feel so bad that I could not bear to think of it any longer. I did not then have any idea who the man was, but my heart went out to the man whose last thoughts were of those he loved, and of things he was too much of a gentleman to write about, of disagreement among his men that was aggravated by their disappointment, of a useless struggle. It was all so depressing that a man would not have the resistance that would save him.
This was the beginning of my interest in polar research. We did not yet have a radio, and I was not familiar with the news of world’s explorations. I did not know for several months that all this was really true, and that the name of the man was Captain Scott, or that Amundsen had reached the Pole ahead of him.
But that very night I did tell the rest of my Valley, who bear witness to it, of this experience. I told them that there had been too much needless sacrifice in polar exploration.
I said, “But it will not be allowed to go on. Scientific developments will enable men to fly over the poles in safety, and they will be able to rescue men who call for help by wireless telephones. There will be no need for more lives to be lost in polar research.”
For a while, my secretary Clarence Christian worked for George Mason, Sr., as office manager of the Montague Iron works. Mr. Mason became a very good friend, and I began to feel anxious about his health.
One day I told
him that if he did not take a rest within three weeks, he would be forced to go
to bed, and perhaps never get out of it again.
But he could not see his way clear to abandon his work for a vacation,
so he ended up at the hospital in
During this time Clarence carried on his work for Mr. Mason, and stayed at his home. One day, Clarence became so nervous he asked me to stay with him. As I entered the parlor in Mr. Mason’s home, I said, “Clarence, listen to this peculiar music that comes to my mind.”
I sat at the piano and played what I heard in my mind. It was so solemn and sad that it affected both of us. Then suddenly I realized that I was playing a funeral march. I imagined seeing a coffin and the remains of George Mason. My eyes filled with tears, and when Clarence asked me what was the matter, I told him.
A few mornings later I was notified that if I did not come to see Mr. Mason before noon, I would not be able to see him alive. It was impossible for me to get there in the morning, because it was already past train time. I told Clarence, “George Mason shall live till I see him. He cannot die. He shall not die.”
I did not “pray” that he might live. I “willed” him to live until I might see him once more. Perhaps my assurance was based on a feeling that he would. Perhaps he would have lived until afternoon, in any case. But in all probability George Mason himself had something to do with it. For when Clarence and Charley and I arrived at the hospital, at three forty-five that afternoon, he clasped my hand, and said, “I can go, now that you have come.”
My vision and the music that I had played on the piano in Mr. Mason’s living room were materialized at the funeral.
For some time previous to the illness of George Mason, the large iron safe in his office had not been locked fully. The tumblers had not been thrown over. But one night after his death, Mr. Mason’s son accidentally closed and locked the safe. It was then realized that no one but George Mason, Sr., had known the combination. His personal papers pertaining to the estate were in the safe, and it was now necessary that it be opened. As office manager and acting secretary, Clarence made every effort to open the safe, but without success. As a last resort, before breaking the lock, Clarence asked me to try to open it.
This was the kind of spontaneous necessity that I was always watching for as a basis for experiment. If George Mason had asked me, while living, to see if I could open his safe “just for fun,” in order to see whether or not I could do it, I would not have tried it, and would not have expected to succeed if I had, unless I should sandpaper my fingers and try it as an exercise in safecracking, But with Mr. Mason dead, with no one else knowing the combination, and with the pressing need that it be opened, ideal conditions were set up for a real experiment.
I took off my hat and coat and sat at Mr. Mason’s desk, just as he had always done, bending over an open ledger. I asked Clarence to blindfold me so that I would not be distracted by sight or by muscular effort to hold my eyes closed. I asked him to wait long enough for me to fully think myself into George Mason’s personality, then, while I was pretending to be Mr. Mason, suddenly to ask me to open the safe.
This Clarence did; and scarcely knowing what I was doing, I turned to the safe and, to his astonishment and mine, opened it in about ten seconds. But I still did not know the combination, and immediately afterward could not have done it again with my eyes open.
One day in the presence of fifteen people I began to fear that one or more of them would be in danger of drowning if they were not careful. I wanted to warn them, and in so doing found myself saying more that I had expected to say.
I said that there
would be five deaths from drowning in
One evening I took Mary Lillian and the children to Montague to attend a birthday party at the home of Joe Apoll. Joe was the one whom I had warned to be careful not to be under anything heavy supported by a chain hoist, for I had had a “daydream” of him in just such a position, and had “seen” a mental close-up of a link of the chain that would break. He did remember my warning when he actually found himself in just such a position, and stepped back, but the link broke and Joe’s hand was crushed. He phoned me from the doctor’s office and said, “Well, I’ve got it.” And I still have the broken link and an X-ray picture that I took of Joe’s hand.
When we arrived for the birthday party, I was told that Joseph Hazeltine had promised to come there to meet me for the first time, but he had been called out on duty as deputy sheriff at the last moment. I was told later that he had been nervous, and had said that he would “much rather have met Mr. Sadony.”
At midnight or shortly after, I began to feel very nervous and depressed. I went to the graphophone and played “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” which to some of those present seemed a strange thing for me to select at that stage of a birthday party. But as I looked around at the party, it began to take on the aspect in my mind of a funeral. I began to feel bad, but said nothing. I did not know how to interpret my feeling.
About two in the
morning we left for home. As we passed along the
I said to Mary Lillian, “Wouldn’t it be terrible to be out there on a night like this?” The feeling persisted, and I added, “What if two or three men were out there hanging on to a boat? God help them, if they are!”
Mary Lillian shuddered, and said, “But surely—who else would ever go out on a night like this?”
No one, of course—unless he had to. But Joseph Hazeltine “had to”—he and two other men who had accompanied him on his duties. He was there instead of at the birthday party meeting me. Was he thinking of me? Was it a coincidence that we were talking about it, and shuddering as we passed the lake in the dark?
But there were the “three,” found the next morning. Five deaths in the lake for the season. Was this another “coincidence”?
However, as I had never met Mr. Hazeltine, the incident did not linger long in memory at the time. So when a week later I was putting up a stovepipe, I could see no connection when a thought came to me so strongly that I stopped putting up the pipe and could not finish until I had written it down: “Fanny, I was not murdered. It was an accident. Be happy. Someone will take my place in four years.”
I looked at the paper and thought, “But what has that to do with me? Why should I write a thing like that?”
Then something within me seemed to urge, “Sign your name to it.” So I signed it “Joe.” Still, it meant nothing to me, and I put it away.
Two months later, Mrs. Apoll visited us with a friend. She introduced her as Mrs. Fanny Hazeltine. Instantly everything connected in my mind. It was her husband, Joe Hazeltine, who had wanted to meet me, and who had been drowned instead. Now I realized that she always felt he might have been murdered. I got out what I had written her two months before, without knowing who “Fanny” was.
Mrs. Hazeltine wept when she read it, and swore that she would never marry again.
I said, ‘Oh, but you will. And his name will be Joe too!”
Everybody connected with this affair seemed to be named Joe. Another “coincidence,” of course. Because four years later she married again and was very happy. Her husband’s name was Joe.
But was it a coincidence that I felt impelled to write, and to say what I did? Is life and everything in it a “coincidence”?
One day while I was writing a letter I heard (or thought I heard) a distinct knock at my door. After a moment of reflection and no further sound, I concluded that a blue jay or a woodpecker had been pecking at the window, and continued with my letter.
A few moments later the sound was repeated; this time there were three distinct knocks at my door. For confirmation I glanced at my dog. He did not stir, as he surely would have done, had there really been a knock.
Yet I had “heard” a knock. So I concluded that my ear must have reflected the memory of a knock in response to some “thought.” I determined to test this idea. Who might want to communicate with me by “mental radio”? For the first time in a long while I thought of my father, so I turned over the reign of my imagination to his memory, and proceeded to act out my part in all seriousness.
I went to the door, opened it, let in an afternoon sunbeam, and pretended that it was my father. I said, “Well, Dad, I’m glad you have come. Sit down with me for a while. Is there something I can do for you?”
Then I took my pad and pencil and wrote down what I imagined my father was saying: “Joseph, it is three o’clock in the afternoon of August first. I wish you would build Mother a little nest of three rooms overlooking your valley, so that she may be happy there the last sixteen years of her life. Then I will come and take her with me.”
I said, “Okay, Dad, I’ll start today.”
“Thank you, Joseph. I’ll come again.”
Then I snapped myself out of what seemed like a bit of idle imagining, and went back to finish my letter.
When I came to clear my desk and throw my notes and a bit of doodling into the basket, I could not leave the room. I rescued the notes of my imaginary conversation from the waste basket and phoned down for Charley to hitch up the team and be ready to help me, because I was going to haul enough gravel and sand out of Lake Michigan (abut two blocks away) to make concrete blocks for a three-room house as a Christmas present for Mother, who was still living at East Lansing with Cristina and Bert King.
Charley and the rest thought that we couldn’t do it by Christmas, but I was determined to try, and Mary Lillian was determined to help me. She even climbed up on the roof with me, two days before Christmas, and we finished shingling it in a snowstorm.
nothing about all this, but next day she came from
The inside was ready for her, all lit up, a goose in the oven—there were even books on a shelf for her to read. When she saw it she fainted. And when I had revived her, I asked her why she felt that way about it.
She said, “Oh, Joseph, you should not have done it!”
“But why, Mother? What makes you say that?”
“Because you can hardly afford it yet, Joseph. And I am responsible for it. One afternoon I went to church and prayed. It was like a complaint. I prayed, thinking that if only your father were here, he would build me a little nest of three rooms that I could call my own. That was all I wanted. And now you have done it.”
“When was that, Mother? When did you do that?”
She thought a moment, then said, “It was on August first, your Joseph’s birthday.”
“Was it in the afternoon?”
“Yes. About three o’clock.”
I said, “Well, Mother, maybe Dad is around here, after all.
The intuitive life is not without suffering, but the suffering is that of sensitive nerves exacerbated by discord or tragedy, among other causes. For in order to carry this experiment as far as I did, you must be able to sensitize your nerves and mental clearing house so that the least sound, even that of a pin dropping on a sheet of paper, shocks you as much as an explosion, and nothing less will shock a positive man of intellect who becomes calloused and deaf to all but his objective senses.
I found that at no time was intuition more alive and active than when body and mind were either wholly absorbed and coordinated in creative labor or exhausted with fatigue. In the first case, the intellect of reason and memory were too busy to interfere with intuition, and in the second case, too tired to do so. Therefore I kept pads of paper and pencils everywhere—in boats, in cars, in ships, by every chair where I was likely to rest, and by the side of my bed.
I made it a rule that intuition came first, before any and all other considerations, and that I would always write it down if it was not something that I could immediately execute. If my hammer was raised in the air to strike a blow, or a forkful of food on the way to my mouth at table when a thought was induced by an intuitive feeling, the nail was not to be hit by the hammer, or the food was not to reach my mouth, before I had procured pad and pencil to record it. I stood guard at the “wireless” receiver of my brain night and day, save when unconscious from sleep or sheer exhaustion—and even then could not escape the position I had assumed.
I would wake up out of a deep sleep to find myself reaching for pad and pencil, and on many occasions in the morning found things written there that I had absolutely no recollection of writing. More than five million words accumulated in this way. I did not “think out” one word of it, and was often hard put to it to comprehend what my hand had written. But it was definitely not “automatic writing,” so called. It was intuitive writing. The difference between the two is that between night and day.
I could fill several volumes with experiences stemming from thoughts that came to mind while working, or from the wandering of imagination when relaxed and tired after a day of hard work.
Our home would have burned down if I had not obeyed intuition one day. I sent for three large fire extinguishers at a time when running water was available, and the weather being warm, we had no fires. It was thought to be an unnecessary move just at that time, but I carefully filled them and placed them in accessible positions.
That was at eight o’clock in the evening, after supper. Exactly six hours later, at two o’clock in the morning while I was working in my shop, I looked out the window and saw flames through the window of our bedroom. A lamp had been burning there, as electricity was not at the time available. It was the first time anything like that had happened to us, and it was the first time I had ever made such deliberate and apparently unseasonal preparations for it. I had to let everything else go until I had prepared those fire extinguishers. I canceled plans to go out in the evening and stayed home quietly working in the shop, in sight of the window through which the flames were visible. But until I saw the flames, it never occurred to me to expect them. I did not “foresee” what would happen, but I had unconsciously prepared for it. And as time went on, I discovered that this was one of the most important aspects of the intuitive life.
I could see more clearly than ever before what the trouble was with so many people who might just as easily have avoided tragedy, as I did, not only on this occasion, but on many others. My fire extinguishers made quick shift of the blaze. We all possess a “radio” in our minds but seldom use it. Few ever learn how to use it, and many give up and cease trying when they fail.
You cannot force it. You must coax it to perform, and then accept what comes to you, even if it is nothing. It is not an “organ” that you can use at will, like our eyes. It is like radio antennae with which you may attempt to tune in, to “seek, knock and ask.” Then—who knows?—you may receive a beautiful program that will illuminate and bless the rest of your life. But beware of this: if you tune in to the world of human thoughts, you shall be a slave to other men who dominate by forceful, positive thinking.
If, however, you use your “human radio” to tune in to the Great Broadcaster of Life, you will serve the purpose of life by responding, not to the skeptical intellectual demands of men, but to those who also tuned in to the Central Broadcasting station of Mankind.
This is the foundation of human brotherhood—the brotherhood that is impossible save between intuitive men, men who know each other before they meet, and who cannot be separated even by death.
Our bodies are but the chemicals of minerals and vegetables constructed by nature to hold, to receive, and to be animated by the soul, which is that part of radiant energy we call God, a law of nature that may be symbolized by a child, chalk in hand, writing its name on a blackboard. The chalk is nature, and what it means is the child. Nature is the chalk, but God moves within; that is the Everlasting Name nature has written in its mystery.
The spirit of man is but an echo of the soul—that repeats but knows not its meaning. The spirit is the graphophone record repeating answers to problems about which it knows nothing, like my psychologist friends with their textbook knowledge—a parrot, a book, or even a prayer of mere words in a language you do not understand, though you repeat it daily for a lifetime. But let the soul express one thought, and poets will write of it for centuries.
For the soul expresses itself in whatever medium it finds available—in music, in color, in form, in the flesh of a man, in tears, in emotion, in love, in prayer—playing upon the strings of whatever instrument you are able to furnish. This is inspiration, intuition, prophetic vision. And this is what the psychologists had eliminated from their consideration, because in observing the behavior of the human graphophone machine, the human radio and television are automatically shut off.
The soul has not got a chance to “put words into your mouth” if you put them there yourself by playing the graphophone records memory, by planning and thinking what you shall do or say.
No, It was definitely impossible to live the intuitive life on the basis of intellectual planning. So I would apply my intuition to a continued search for truth, without hope or expectation of any particular objectives or of financial gain. I would concern myself with economics and industrial problems only to the extent that it was necessary to make the research possible; and thus far things have worked out all right from intuitive beginnings, without worrying about it. I began to see a practical aspect to the faith of the old (saying) that “the Lord would provide,” if one obeyed the intuitions by which the Lord might find it necessary to enlist your help in so doing.
The object of my study was the mind of man. This obviously included the whole universe. Not one aspect of science, philosophy, or religion could be excluded from consideration. To establish the truth of the mind of man, I would have to build a new bridge between science and religion, for I saw that all previous attempts to do this had rested on quicksands of purely intellectual speculations. Research in the physical sciences and in the mental sciences must proceed hand in hand on a basis of experience and experiment. One glimpse into the future staggered me. The task was more than I could do. I could only begin it. I dared not look again. I kept my eyes glued to the ground only one short step ahead. Enough that I lived today intuitively in preparation for tomorrow. Enough if I contributed one small but essential block to the structure of a new generation that would tax the skill and specialties of the world’s greatest minds.
As time passed it became evident that many chains of events were unfolding here and there throughout the world, and interweaving little threads of thought that seemed to pull on my mind.
One evening, for example, I felt inclined to sit at the organ in the little chapel we had built, and improvise some music. I had spent the day in the world of intellect making a delicate magnetic instrument that I had designed for geophysical research, and before attempting to answer some of the seven or eight thousand letters that had accumulated, I felt the need to woo my way back into the world of intuition again.
I drifted into a strange melody that I had never played before. There was an oriental sadness in it, and suddenly I felt the presence or thoughts of Srikrishna Chatterjee, as if he were dead or in a coma. I had not heard from him or thought of him in a long while.
I wrote him about
this and received answer that he had been at the door of death, but was now
better. He informed me, however, that it had been predicted in
In explaining my experience, I wrote him: “About the middle of February, while in my chapel, I seemed to feel your presence, just as if you were in that sphere which hovers between death and life, a living dreamland, the sphere which brings me so many thoughts—as if you were in the next world, but still anchored by a silk thread to this one. I began to fear, for I felt that you had something still to complete.”
As for the prediction that he had but a short time to live, I told him that I disagreed with it. In answer to it, I predicted that he would recover, make a long journey, and visit many people before his time would come.
Three years later
he wrote me: ”The journey was undertaken
by me in October. I was seized with a desire to see my second boy and his two
children and wife at Nasirabad, which must be about
fifteen hundred miles from this place. I went to
of this journey had repercussions for me that I did not then dream about.
Wherever Mr. Chatterjee went, my letter went with
him. He presented himself as living testimony that the prediction of his early
death (which had been made in
One day I was
looking at a photograph of Tagore that hangs among others of my friends, in my
study. I recalled Frederick Fisher’s description of Tagore as a stolid mountain
compared to Gandhi, who was a rushing torrent. And I was thinking of
Tagore expressed his desire to remove all idols, saying, “If we can do without them, even the lowest can do likewise.”
Gandhi replied, “No, you cannot do this. Idols are the poor man’s crutches. They cannot walk without them until you supply them strong limbs of understanding.”
Now I looked at
Tagore’s picture, thinking. “Can you do that, Rabindranath?
Can you supply the poor of
I imagined a sad expression coming over Tagore’s face, even in the photograph, as if he was saying, “Joseph, I am only a poet. But I try also to teach with my melodies. I am not too strong, myself.”
Then I saw a little black ribbon pinned to his picture. It was imaginary, of course. When I looked again it was gone. But every time this happened to me, I put a real black ribbon, a tiny one, where I thought I had seen one. For in every case the person in question had not lived more than six months. Five months and two weeks later, Rabindranath Tagore was gone.
What is the source of this “vision,” this “signal”? What tells me that a friend is soon to pass on? More than a score of little black ribbons on photographs of friends bear silent witness without explaining a thing. Among them were Ella Wheeler Wilcox and Marie Corelli, Theodore Roosevelt, and, years later, his wife, Edith, with whom I corresponded until she died; Abdul Baha and Anton Lang, the Conan Doyles and Sir Oliver Lodge, Rudyard Kipling and the explorer Amundsen, General John Pershing, and Lieutenant Governor Evans, Ernest Torrence and Henry B. Walthall, Ossip Gabrilowitsch and Channing Pollock, Jessie Bonstelle, Governor Chase S. Osborn, Benjamin de Casseres, Edwards Davis, and others no less important but too numerous to mention who had left the imprint of their personalities on the Valley of the Pines. When death cast its shadow before it, that too left its imprint, sometimes in advance, and sometimes in the hour.
When 1940 saw the
liberation of seven provinces, and 1948 the freedom of all
Then one day I stood looking out the window in the Valley, for a few moments indecisive, tired, uncertain what to do next, uncertain whether it was worth while to do anything. I thought: This is not me. This is not the way I feel. Some other ‘program’ has blotted out my own on my ‘radio.’”
I wondered what it could be. I stood there, groping with my mind, just like insects I have watched groping in all directions with their antennae, searching for some recognizable environment. It seemed dim and far away, so in order to reach it I became more and more sensitive. And in that moment Mary Lillian came quietly into the room, but there was a slight click of the door latch as she opened the door. To me it was like a gunshot, and for a moment I thought I had been shot. I clutched my side and staggered. Mary Lillian ran to me, pale and frightened.
What’s the matter, honey? What is it?”
I said, “It’s nothing. I was thousands of miles away, that’s all. I really thought I was shot.”
She said, “I’m sorry. I frightened you.”
I said, “No, It was not you. That was just a coincidence. Or was it? I don’t know what it is yet. Just forget it.”
Later, Mary Lillian told me, “I think I know what it was now. Were you thinking of Gandhi? I’ve just heard about it over the radio. You went through the same thing in your mind.”
Well, I cannot say that with certainty. I was not consciously thinking of Gandhi at the moment. I was still trying to identify the thoughts that distressed me. The experience brought me to earth with such a bang that I dropped the whole thing from my mind like a bad dream, and went to work in my laboratory.
But it lingered. Nothing exactly like that had happened to me before. Was it just another “coincidence”?
When my family
and I were working with Frank R. Adams in our local dramatic club, helping to
put on plays, the venture culminated in building The Playhouse, in
No one but my family and Meredith, who assisted me in the experiment, knew why I spent night after night in the orchestra pit at the drums, adding the pianist (who was sometimes my son Arthur) in providing sound effects during the days of silent films. And no one knew why I doggedly stayed there through two shows each time.
My procedure and the reasons were simple. I watched the picture through the first performance, studying it carefully to provide the right drumming effects, and carefully noted the repertoire of emotions each play induced in the audience. I was there to see the audience, not the picture; and from my vantage point in the orchestra pit I could see without being seen, though I was making a lot of noise in order to be heard all evening.
My little research project took place during the second run of the picture. Throughout the second performance my eyes were closed. I looked neither at the picture nor at the audience. Meredith sat where he could see both the picture and the audience, and near enough to me so that we could converse in whispers when necessary. I made it a practice to try to see the picture through the eyes of the audience instead of my own, during that second performance. Having provided myself first with a memory of the picture, I then allowed the emotions of the audience, amplified by the number of people present, to recall the various scenes at the proper time.
Thus for hours, week after week, I practiced sensing the emotions of a small “mass” of people (varying from one hundred to five hundred people)—emotions that were somewhat unified and coordinated by a common object of interest and concentration. So when the Empress of Ireland sank, for example, I was perhaps better able than another to recognize the combined emotion of a hundred people facing the certainty of death.
But when it is a
prevision, what then? I felt the shadow of the
But how could such a thing possibly be known? People asked me, “How did you know?”
And how many times was I forced to repeat, “I did not know.” Knowledge is of the intellect. Prophecy is not knowledge.
I don’t know why such things came to me, when it did no good to anyone, and did not serve to prevent disaster.
Of far greater service was the night I had an impulse to get out the car and drive to town and back with Mary Lillian and the boys. When I told them to get on their things, they said, “Swell! We’ll take a midnight ride to town and back! But why? Everything is closed in town. Any special reason?”
No. Reason is knowledge. The intellect again. I had not the least knowledge why. But I had to obey “or else” begin to lose the intuition that grows stronger only by exercising itself in the muscles as well as the brain and imagination. One has to carry them out if anywhere within reason—these strange inner urges that I had determined to follow to the end.
So we went. And ahead of us on the road was a pile of leaves such as drift up like snow impelled by the late fall winds. I have driven through dozens of windrows of leaves like that. But this time I stopped the car with the headlights on the pile of leaves and asked my boys to kick through it. Beneath the leaves was a log big enough to have wrecked our car, had we not stopped. The boys carried it to the side of the road, and as we stood there trying to decide whether to go on to town or not, since my urge had vanished with the removal of the log, a car speeded through, going sixty mile an hour at least. It plowed through the leaves where the log had been, and the group of teen-agers in it, on their way home from a show, yelled a greeting to us as they passed.
A useful if thankless job on our part. The life of half a dozen youngsters could hang on a “hunch” to drive to town and back, in the middle of the night. But to foresee the sinking of an unknown ship, and to sense the shock of public reaction, was of no help whatever to anyone.
But all such
experiences are not fruitless. Often a connection came to light later that was
wholly unknown to me at the time. A striking example of this occurred later in
connection with one of our worst storms on
While listening to the wind, I “imagined” and described to several witnesses the plight of a sailing vessel, a schooner, with masks broken, and sails torn to shreds. The crew abandoned hope and were expecting to go down with the hull when it sank.
In order to see if we could sight anything, six of us went over to the lakeshore. The wind and sand cut our faces, and we could hardly stay on our feet. We saw nothing.
One of our party,
Jack, who knew ships, said he did not think there was any such schooner as I
had described left in the
Other ships were
in danger; one of our own boats went over in
But not until Meredith asked me if I thought there was any hope for them did my mind leave the general direction of where I felt the schooner to be, and “scan” the rest of the lake.
Finally, I said, “There is a big freighter ‘way to the north. It looks like a long black cigar. It is the only ship that could save them, but it is heading out of the storm in another direction. There is only one slim chance for that schooner. If the captain of the ship follows the hunch he ought to be feeling right now, he will change his course. Then he might sight them.”
It seemed pretty hopeless, even granting it were all true. But we all threw our thoughts at the captain of an imaginary freighter like a long black cigar, hoping to strengthen the “hunch” that he ought to feel, if there were really a sailing vessel out there with only hours left to stay afloat.
But how many follow their hunches? What captain in his right mind would turn back into a storm at the command of a feeble little twitch somewhere in his brain or spine or solar plexus? With a wind so loud that his second officer would have to shout to be heard, could he be expected to hear the unspoken prayer of men facing death, or the thoughts of strangers standing on the shore more than a hundred miles away?
But there was a connection, and I did not know it. The captain of the freighter, that long black cigar, was not only a “reality”; he was my old friend Captain Charles Mohr, to whom I had predicted that he would sail a ship before he ever laid hands on one, whom I taught to follow his hunches, predicting that if he did so he would be honored above all other Great Lakes captains, and go down in history and the annals of navigation on the Great Lakes. He had years before agreed with me to follow his hunches as an experiment, and let me know the results.
One of the
results was not only one but five lake rescues, saving twenty-seven lives. But
this was the climax of his career. For this he was to be honored as the first
Captain Mohr has passed on, but he still lives in the memory of all who knew him as a man who stood alone in the hour of his decision, upon which the lives of seven men depended. He stood alone, not only against the judgment of his men, but against the better judgment of his own intellect. He did respond to the thoughts and needs of other men, not only on one but on many occasions.
I remember the time when a young man told me how he stood, when a boy, on the Michigan Avenue Bridge in Buffalo, watching the then magnificent ship Merida come in, and wishing that someday he could be a captain of a fine ship like that. I told him that he could; that if he sincerely wished it, he was prophesying for himself, and that if he followed his intuition and always obeyed his “hunches” he not only could be the captain of a ship like that, but make a name for himself to be honored with the finest recognition ever to have been received by a Great Lakes navigator.
He became a
captain, and his first ship was the
That afternoon that we had the talk together you said that after I got home there would be a letter for me from Chicago from a heavy thick man by the name of J.—John, you thought, and through him I would get a good job sometime in March. But before that I would have two other offers which I would take but wouldn’t keep. Well, it all came to pass within a day or so from the time you had predicted, except that the man’s name is Jeremiah, instead of John. You said I was to sail a big boat successfully, which I did, and that I was to have a little girl born. I’ve got that too.
Offer No. 2, as per your prediction. You
said I would have an offer from the East in February, also that it would be
When Captain Mohr received the Congressional Medal and his five lake rescues were cited, he sent me a clipping, and wrote, “My reasons for sending this to you is because it is just what you told me would happen over fifteen years ago, and I have not forgotten.”
This is but one instance among many in the experience of one man besides myself. He is but one of several thousand witnesses in the files of my own mental experiments. And there are thousands of others in the world today who have had similar experiences, and who, even at the moment that I write this, and again as you read it, know the truth of such things beyond any possible doubt.
In the face of
all the evidence that is available in the world today, the opinion of men who
doubt because they have had no such experience deserves the same consideration
as the skepticism of the
The experience of others will not convince you like an experience of your own. It is not something you can learn from books. I have hoped to show you the way to find out for yourself, but a better understanding of your own experience is in comparing them with mine.
The intuitive life itself has no problems save those that vanish in solving themselves. For it is not really necessary to understand everything, so long as intuition succeeds in translating itself into successful action. Obedience to the promptings of intuition removes by prevention all problems that disobedience would create.
But he who sets out to live the life of intuition in collaboration with the intellect (a modern necessity) finds himself obliged to correlate and harmonize science, philosophy, and religion. He must harness intuition by “logic, reason, and common sense.” And in so doing he encounters the critical demands of the intellect to provide adequate explanation and verbal representation. And he must squarely face and answer for himself by experience the questions: “Is man a mere electrical recording machine?” “Is he also a ‘radio’?” And if the second, “What is the source of the broadcasting he receives?” Is it possible to ‘talk without thinking’? (i.e. to by-pass the intellect), and if so, “What ‘puts the words into one’s mouth’?”
From childhood I had found it necessary to “stop thinking” in order to “imagine” correctly; but as I grew older I found that, if I stopped thinking while talking, word were actually “put into my mouth” and I would say things that were verified as correct without having the least idea what I was talking about, and without requiring any exercise of imagination or understanding on my part.
A similar phenomenon occurred in writing. I could take a blank piece of paper and write on it something I never knew or thought of before. But it was definitely not so-called automatic writing. I simply said or wrote what popped into my mind at the instant; and it popped out of my verbal memory instead of my memory of scenes and pictures (as in the case of “imagining’ things), but I would not know what I was going to say or write next. And I was always astonished on reading it over afterward, or hearing the reaction of my listener, to discover that it not only “made sense” but was something that could be verified.
The trouble with most people is that they shape things to suit themselves, according to past acquirements, whereas we should permit truth to come to us, crystallizing in its own shape. We should then try to figure out what the shape is.
Some “feel” things without seeing any mental “pictures.” Some have vague “hunches” that act only at forks in the road, to aid them in determining which direction to take at the moment, but without providing them with any clear vision concerning their goal or the means of attaining it.
Some visualize their ideals in all, then carry them out one by one, prophesying for themselves without realizing it. And some sense things only through symbols, which constitute a universal language of understanding based on memory element of sensory experience in nature. The intuitive dreams and “imaginings” of this type of person will seldom be literally true. The truth is embodied in symbols that must be interpreted.
The history of human experience is filled with cases of all kinds, but in my investigation of these things I have personally experienced all types of mental phenomena without finding it necessary to take the word of anyone else for anything. I have seen thousands of “false pictures” in my “mind’s eye” of things that have actually happened, of things happening at the moment, and of future events. But often I see a symbol that I must interpret, and in talking with my friends of the symbols that come to me, it has often been the case that they knew exactly what I was talking about when it was still a mystery to me.
One day, for example, I was talking with a man in connection with whose initials I imagined that I saw the symbol of a silver frog. Two common conceptions of my memory, “silver” and “frog,” were thus compounded by my intuition in an apparent but vain effort to communicate something to my intellect. I could not make sense out of it, nor could the man in question at the time of our conversation.
But later he informed me, “You know that silver frog you spoke of? Well, the two middle names that I never use, save for the initials, originally meant a silversmith and a tadpole.”
Another case was
my first conversation with a Mr. H. of
This didn’t make sense to me, but Mr. H. and his friend Mr. W. were very much amused, as one of the projects that Mr. H. was then interested in launching was a new kind of toy, a peculiar kind of building blocks with which children could easily construct substantial houses of several miniature sizes, depending on the number of blocks used.
Another source of confusion in many experiences of mental phenomena is the difficulty of discerning between “thoughts” of people and events that actually take place. The effect of the “mass mind” must always be guarded against by an intuitive person in his relation with public affairs.
In my own experience I found it necessary to attempt to shut out “thoughts” altogether on such occasions, in order to get at the “facts.”
vision” possible? When I was asked if I could “imagine” or describe something
that was going on in the world elsewhere, and specifically when I was asked if
I could describe the greatest crime being committed in the city of
Does human memory survive death, and if so, is it possible for disembodied minds to witness earthly events and to induce a representation of them in the imagination of a living person? Can the imagination of a living person envision distant senses or inanimate objects without the aid of witnessing minds, living or dead?
Are conclusive answers to these questions possible on the basis of the experimental evidence available? I do not think so. One may believe what one will. Only this fact remains: the “vision” is there. Your “human radio” and “mental vision” are working. But you do not know with certainty who or what is broadcasting what you receive; and you do not know where it is coming from.
following experience to which well-known witnesses are still living and
available, though two are dead. We were on “location” during the filming of one
of a number of moving pictures in which I was interested. A number of us,
including the director, the late James Cruze, were
sitting on a bench in a park near
There was an old man, an extra hired for the day, tapping the ground idly with the point of his cane. He was out of hearing, and also deaf. On the spur of the moment, I said to the others on the same bench with us and in adjacent chairs, “Do you want to see me make that old man draw a triangle in the sand with his cane, and then make a figure in the center of it?”
Everyone on the bench and within hearing held his breath almost, under the impression that I was concentrating as an experiment in trying to influence the old man telepathically to do what I had said. I was thinking about it, of course, and watching the old man intently. But the thoughts in my mind, far from being an effort to “will” the old man to do as I said, were somewhat as follows: “Now what made me say that? I have put myself on a spot, and without any good reason for doing so.”
For a moment or two the old man continued his tapping. Then suddenly taking a new grip on his cane, he began making aimless and disconnected dashes, lines instead of dots. In another moment he dragged the cane back and forth in zigzag line. H ended up by making a clearly defined triangle, and then proceeded to interest himself in drawing something inside it.
Everyone present thought it was a clearly defined case of telepathic influence or “thought transference,” without the conscious cooperation or knowledge of the subject. Of more interest to me were the reactions of the individuals who had witnessed the little performance. They ranged from excitement to amazed incredulity. But the entire episode ended in a burst of laughter, because of the tone of voice in which Jimmy Cruze uttered one of his characteristic and good-humored but unprintable curses, when he saw what the old man had done.
He capped a vivid description of what he would be by the exclamation, “By God! You did it!”
I said, “Hold on now, Jimmy. Don’t jump to any conclusions. I may have done it, but I’m not convinced of it.”
This seemed to astonish him more than the little experiment. He said, “What are you talking about? I don’t get it. Didn’t I see it?”
“Think it over. Did I really make the old man carry out my whim of the moment, or did I merely predict what he was going to do?”
But the next scene was ready. Jimmy got up and lumbered away, mumbling “Merely!”
He was not in the least impressed by the distinction, but it was a real one. In thousands of similar cases the material evidence provides no direct proof whether the prediction or statement involves mental processes that cause the event, or whether the event, casting its shadow before it, causes the statement.
We can no longer hold, even from the scientific view, to the conceptual belief that the physical universe within the range of our five special senses comprises the whole of reality. We know that by far the greater portions of it are “unseen,” and that our personal environing realities contain both cosmic and atomic elements with which our five recognized senses are unable to deal. Still, we do deal with them by means of speech and conceptual thought. And conspicuous among the words and concepts that serve us for this purpose are “God” and the “atom,” the one manifesting in religious behavior and the other in scientific behavior.
No one has seen God, and no one has seen a single atom. So far as these or any other concepts manifest in human behavior (serving as guides to action or research), it makes not the slightest difference whether they are “true” or not. But the knowledge of God has come to man in the same way as any of the generalizations of science.
We define “magnetism” as that unknown cause or power to which the magnetic force of our experience is due. We may define ”gravity” as that unknown cause or power to which the gravitational forces of our experience are due. And we may define “God” as that unknown cause or power to which are due those compulsions of human experience that are to be found in love, faith, inspiration, and so on, and which transcend sex, our ability to reason, and our capacity as rational animals to understand.
Thus, as far as man transcends sex and self in his relation with others, he has admitted into his life of emotion and behavior something “above” nature, i.e., something “supernatural.” For nature contains sex and life, but not love and inspiration, by which alone the beast in man is subdued to permit a higher evolutionary process.
Today, we are all the victims of world conditions that have been brought about by power politics without love, as devised by intellect without God. We have been smothered mentally by a great logomachy (war of words without deeds) as an intellectual smoke screen of propaganda to hide what is really going on. For we have been living in a primitive state of world civilization dominated by purely rational animals in the form of self-preservative men, among whom the process of reasoning has reigned supreme as intellect without God. And the future outlook of such a civilization (in which material progress has exceeded spiritual development) is dismal indeed unless we can learn to understand and preserve a world-wide peace in an age of atomic weapons.
Science is now fully aware of this conditional outlook. But religion has for ages had priority over the best methods of controlling human behavior. And only now, when forced by circumstances to do so, scientists are waking up to the fact that the only alternative to the way of religion, i.e., love and faith, is the way of totalitarian regimentation by fear, discipline and force. For it has been found (too late to prevent damage already done) that knowledge and intelligence are not enough to create and maintain righteousness in the world. Neither scientific nor philosophic or liberal literary education is capable of preserving peace on earth through human behavior.
The situation is ironic. For many of our most intelligent men have in the past half century turned from religion because they were unable to accept the various faiths, dogmas, and doctrines as “true.” They have reared and educated a generations of young rationalists, some of whom are still open-minded as agnostics, and some of whom are aggressive and even militant theists. And now (again too late to undo the damage) we find scientific rationalists realizing that the “truth” of a faith (as they define the truth) is entirely irrelevant to the survival value and progress value of its function in human behavior.
What people believe manifests in their behavior whether or not it be “true” by any criterion whatever. And here is where scientific men have made the greatest and most costly error of all history: in assuming that the scientific criterion of truth could be applied to the evaluation of human speech and conceptual thought as manifest in beliefs and opinions.
It is not necessary for human ideas to correspond with past or present realities in order to create future realities through human behavior. The test of faith is not in “facts” but in “works.” The sole virtue and only legitimate psychological criterion of truth (as applied to human belief) is prophetic. The power and truth of a word or a conceptual thought is creative. It acquires meaning or truth only when it is “made flesh” in deeds, action, behavior.
From this view the scriptures of the world take on astonishing significance. Doubt if you will, but, unless you believe, nothing happens to change the biological behavior pattern of yesterday. For since man can think only with what he already possesses to think with, he resists change until experience makes it a part of his memory. Hence religion in its purely intellectual or speculative aspects has derived largely from the fact that man doubts, hence gives birth to reason in order to believe what he fears to doubt.
These rationalized beliefs may or may not be “true,” and so far as they are effective in the constructive guidance of human behavior, it does not matter. The true secret of life can be known only by him who is able to eliminate the mental concept of life. Neither sense impressions, words, nor mental concepts are capable of encompassing the truth of whole situations. But they provide data whereby intuition with the aid of memory and imagination integrates and synthesizes this sensory data together with extra-sensory assistance into a more complete understanding than a merely logical method of reasoning can provide.
This leads to the realization that truth is not to be defined in terms of the evolving organism and its sensations, or reactions to sensations, but in terms of the environing reality to which ultimate adaptation is essential both for self-realization and for the continued progress of survival.
Only intuition escapes words and concepts, including space and time. Only intuition can evoke from memory in imagination those recombinations that make up new and prophetic concepts to meet the needs of further progress. The only alternative to our self-guidance on the path of evolutionary progress by the costly trial-and–error, hit-or-miss method of rational experimentation is in the dynamic inspiration of a psychological orthogenesis evoked by intuitive faith.
I has been said that “man is created in the likeness or image of God.” Science is unable either to affirm or to deny such a statement. But a scientific investigation of God (I speak as one who has for fifty years been engaged in such an investigation) does lead directly to the proposition that God manifests in the likeness of man (for man) and in the likeness of nature (for nature). If one dips water from the ocean, the water will take the shape of one’s cup. And we must investigate and analyze the water as we find it in that cup. Thus a personal God is the basis of individual and sociological evidence of a phenomenal nature. So we say, on the basis of such evidence, that “God is Love.” And we affirm this God of man as his Creator, not in a historic but in a dynamic, and immediate, and a prophetic sense. For creation is continuous—and man is not Man as yet.
It is precisely because man is free to accept or reject the “Substance of things hoped for, the [intuitive] evidence of things unseen” that a scientific investigation of human faith is possible. We can learn more about the kind of love that is Godlike than we can about gravity, for the very reason that life is possible without love, whereas it is impossible to escape gravity for the sake of comparison.
The historians, the psychologists, the sociologists, and the editorial commentators have long been at work analyzing the origins of present-day, world-wide conflict. We have heard all about the war-mongering of profiteers, power politics, population pressure, ideological differences, and so on. But all these things are consequences; not one of them goes deeply enough to get at the source of the trouble. It has taken centuries for man to recognize in the “new commandment” of Jesus, not a mystical, but a scientific prescription for the world’s ills.
Still, some of us knew. Years ago, a scientific friend half-jokingly asked, “Can you tell me in two words what it is all about—what is really the cause of all this turmoil and confusion in the world today?” He did not really mean “two words.” That was just a figure of speech to him, but I accepted the challenge. I replied, “Sexual accidents.” And by this I meant “unwanted children” who, unloved and the fruit of loveless unions, grew up to manifest not only the “population pressure,” but the neurotic behavior, the compensatory substitution of selfish motives, excessive intellectual specializations, and the internal conflicts that are evident in the external conflicts of the world today. The world’s wanted children are being sacrificed to universal sexual and intellectual perversion. From loveless soil spring the personnel of war-mongering and the power politics of intellect without God.
But “intellect without ‘God” does breed its own destruction. There are signs that the splitting of the atom has brought the Age of Reason to an end. Reluctantly the somewhat dazed intellectual individualists are being forced to admit that they belong to a biological brotherhood from which they are unable to withdraw; that there are “many members but one Body,” and that the harmony of its parts depends upon behavior that neither science nor philosophy have thus far been able to induce.
Now we find thousands displaying a credulity and hunger for any assurance bearing the semblance of truth, and with a thirst for faith miracles and a humility of childlike appeal as if proud “reason” had never claimed and wielded world-wide supremacy.
And it now appears that the works of the intellect have advanced man not an inch from the view of ultimate survival value. We find even scientists once more admitting that they have arrived at the solution of many problems in a manner ”indisguishable from inspiration.” We see articles in the press and in journals and in books revealing that “Science has discovered Love and is prescribing it as medicine,” “Power of suggestion and faith result in cures that puzzle medical science,” “Doubts plague scientists; skeptical of ‘knowledge,’ they turn to mathematical yardstick,” “Religion needed to meet atomic power challenge,” and so on.
But did we not know this all the time? Were not the Golden Rule, the doctrine of love, the works of intuitive faith, the poverty of knowledge without God, and the correlativity of Christ all simply set forth in the words of Jesus? Was not this enough? Evidently it was not, for men failed to understand it as a profound gospel of far-seeing and prophetic scientific value. And in order to become effective universally it has had to be established as such, and it has had to be freed from its basis of belief based on authority, by wide phenomenal reaffirmations.
To understand all this, and to avoid the errors of misinterpretation that perpetuates the vicious circles of religious-scientific logomachy, we must escape the tyranny of words that keeps the pendulum of reactionary minds ever swinging between skepticism and mysticism. Billions of words have poured from the presses of periodicals and publishers—to the confusion of those who seek for truth and understanding outside themselves. Men have ever rushed here and there, crying, “Truth! Truth!” where it does not matter—and rejecting it where it does.
Let them consider the answer that was given to the young Egyptian medical student (in King of Dreams) when he asked his wise old teacher whether he believed that the Master of Healing was truly Son to the Lord of Life and had walked on earth, or was it a fable?
The teacher asked, “Do you think that it matters?”
Said the student, “I think it does matter whether we are taught the truth or lies.”
“Then tell me, what is truth?” asked the teacher.
“Why—“ but the student could not answer.
Said the teacher,
“Yes, it is like that. We draw Truth with her feather, and call her co-worker
with the Lord of Life, but we do not know her, nor can we hold her. We say,
“There is truth in that man’s heart’; but did you search that heart with your
scalpel, you would but thrust her forth to seek another home—you would not find
her. Truth is not a thing of flesh and blood, but of the spirit. That is why I
say it does not matter whether or not our Master was divine and walked on
earth, for his spirit is among us now wherever there is charity and the desire
to heal. Men make their gods—I do not say they make them out of nothing, or
that no great Ones ever came down from Heaven in pity for our need—and while
men are, they will comfort their souls with the image of some Good Physician
who cares for them, though they may not always call him Imhetep
of Memphis. Again, in ages to come men of your blood and mine in
Wise were the teachers of old who taught man never to speak the “Everlasting Name.” For to speak it is but to record it on the graphophone records of human intellects, and there to rob it of power and meaning by endless repetition of mechanical utterance. And thus man substitutes a false god in a mental concept that intelligent men are perfectly right to “deny.” For it is nothing but a mental echo and a vibration of the human larynx to which men bow in their ignorance, while the very soul of man, the spark of god within him, cries out against it, saying, “That is not I!”
Not everything is easy to explain, but we must avoid attaching the “mystery” to the wrong gate. The prime mystery is no longer in the physiological and nervous organization of man—no more than in the construction of the Geiger counter. The mystery is in the so-called cosmic rays that act on the Geiger counter. What are they, and where are they from?
The mystery is in the source of energy, or life, that acts on or in the nervous organization of man to produce an intuitive “feeling.” What is it, and where is it from? There need be no other mystery. The organism upon which it acts is now fairly well known. New ductless glands will be discovered. Many neural functions and operations will be better understood. But in all the essentials the physiological foundation and nervous organization of man is well enough understood in the light of developments in the field of electronics and radiant energy, to know that man is capable of experiencing ”feelings” independent of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching—feelings that result from responses to stimuli emanating from sources known or unknown.
Beyond this coordinated sensitivity of the entire nervous system, no further or special sense is required. It is superfluous to postulate mysterious powers of vision, clairvoyance, clairaudience, psychic ability, and so on, when the normal powers and modus operandi of imagination and memory not only suffice in explanation, but may be investigated experimentally to establish the fact that one’s so-called psychic faculties or extrasensory perceptions are entirely limited, constituently, to the contents of the individual memory, just as the constituents of words are limited to the alphabet employed, and one’s verbal representation is limited to one’s vocabulary unless one pauses to look up or coin a word for an idea that has not yet been incorporated by identification in one’s verbal memory.
And yet I have personally had words come to mind and pass over my tongue in experimental conditions, words entirely unfamiliar to me, words in foreign language, or technical terms that could be found in a dictionary (though previously unfamiliar to me), and some that could not; words conveying information that I did not myself know, but which was afterward verified as correct. Still, I used familiar syllables. I used the familiar alphabet.
And even when I inscribed hieroglyphics entirely unfamiliar to me, it was a composition of familiar smaller elements of lines and curves, shapes, and angles. The fact still remains that my vision of these things cannot correctly be described in terms so vastly misleading and misunderstood as “psychic,” “telepathic,” and so on. It was nothing whatever but imagination compositing familiar elements of previous sensory experience recorded in memory.
I see and correctly describe a scene ten thousand miles away. (I have done this under experimental conditions with witnesses.) I see and describe a future event that occurs exactly as I have described it, save for minor variations. What is lacking or faulty in my description is lacking in my memory. For what do I see? Nothing but my own imagination. Actually, I do not see ten thousand miles away with any form of “vision” whatever. I do not “see” the future. My reception or perception of these things is entirely formless, entirely a “feeling,” entirely devoid of images, words, thought, or concept. What makes it intelligible to me or someone else is the activity of my imagination, which endeavors to symbolize, to portray, to interpret the “feeling.”
The reality is the energy that cannot be destroyed. What we know as “life” is but an echo and shadow, the organic reflex of the radiant energy that sustains the Great Broadcasting Program of Nature. If we attempt to attune ourselves more completely in accord with the Great Central Broadcasting Station of this mammoth program of life, the act of so doing is called “prayer.” The vibration that chills our spine when we make the attunement–-why should we not regard it as a “holy spirit” and the source of the energy, the “something else”? What does it matter what we call it?
The prophets of every nation and of every epoch have risen to proclaim the conception of a living God. Modern science has approached the threshold and is trying to explain this living God by drinking, tasting, hearing, seeing, smelling, and feeling under the name of energy; and the “holy spirit” of this God of Science is radiant energy.
Unless this all-pervading living God of immediate inspiration is infused into the churches, temples, synagogues, and shrines, to replace the intellectual God of yesterday (a God in word, concept, and memory only), the power to resuscitate the people will fade, even as an echo after the voice and ceased to vibrate; and individuals will in ever-increasing number seek God outside the church. And there they will find Him either in silence and alone, by joining some small, private group, or by falling prey to the cults and isms that live like parasites on human credulity and sincerity.
For man seeks the “gate to power.” He wants the success, love, life, happiness, and realization that power brings. And if the key to spiritual power is withheld from him, he substitutes material power—and starves in the midst of his wealth.
It is not enough that the power of prophecy existed twenty centuries ago. It is not enough to hear sermons about it. He wants, and he has a right to, the fulfillment of those promises: “Even ye can do greater things than I,” and “Each shall prophesy that all may be comforted.” This cannot be hidden from him by shelving the records of scripture or retranslating them to leave out the word “prophesy,” both of which have upon occasion been done.
The seed of all this is in man’s intuition to sprout anew, and he is not to be robbed of his birthright by conspiracies of the intellect that have ever enslaved the souls of men. The moisture and warmth to release this power is found in tears of sorrow and compassion, and in faith, of which one’s prayer is but the barometer. When we do not pray we have lost faith in our soul; our “radio” is silenced; and only our memory of self speaks to us, but in empty words and self-pity, which encourages our vanity to silence conscience.
It is only the intellect that doubts, and that can maintain a state of activity entirely devoid of relation to truth. But the one and essential power that distinguishes the complicated nervous organization of man from the simpler one of the animal is the power of recombination, by means of which the imagination can make new creations out of the memory element of old experience.
Thus we symbolize; we indulge in fantasy; we speculate and theorize; we create works of art; we invent; and thus we produce a culture and a civilization. But as we thus change environments, we change our “destiny,” and we change the character of adaptation that operates in the law of the survival of the fit. Just as instinct no longer suffices as a mechanism of adaptation in intellectual environments, so does intellect fail to suffice as a mechanism of adaptation in the world of human progress and competition, which has been fathered by “flashes of genius” that have harnessed the power of nature without harnessing the power of human nature to make the right use of them.
Neither instinct nor intellect can cope with life in such a world. Inspiration and intuition become necessities. Without the guidance of spiritual values, mere knowledge betrays us. Without religion (not doctrinal religion, but a religion of inspiration to provide intuitive guidance as a substitute for the instinct, which intellect has forfeited), science can but lead us to destruction.
It becomes increasingly necessary to “imagine” correctly, to adapt oneself to more subtle and more complicated environments, to develop foresight as well as a knowledge of consequences; to plan, to prepare, to prevent. We find that only those who do this survive. Intuition becomes a necessity. And the very life of intuition is prayer.
In its broad sense prayer is an expression of religious need or mood, any form of religious self-expression by means of which attunement with the cosmos is sought or attained. But in man this is wholly intuitive, just as an animal’s biological adaptation to the environing realities of nature is instinctive and instinct-forming. With these processes of biological adaptation, the human intellect may, and to some extent does, collaborate; but to a larger extent it has set itself in defiance against them. Witness the world turmoil of the present century, as well as past ages of mental confusion, to behold the works of “intellect without God” in a world in which effectual prayer is a “lost art.”
Religion is expressed in worship. The origin of worship is assumed to have been in primitive efforts to perform acts that were thought to be pleasing to the Deity. In so doing, the worshiper experienced emotional consequences that he interpreted as evidence of divine favor. Thus the intellect gave birth to an art as a form of exercise, public or private, that was performed as a matter of divine prescription, or as an expressing of one’s feelings of relationship to Deity.
The first grew into ritual, i.e., the repetition of regular and traditional practices the validity of which becomes entirely irrelevant so long as they result in the psychological consequences they were designed to produce. But the second remained spontaneous, the free and extemporaneous expression of feeling, a witness to the immediacy of religious experience and its individual character. This aspect of worship is the very substance of the intuitive life, and the highest form of prayer.
When people complain that their prayers are not answered, then either they have not fulfilled the necessary conditions or they know neither how to pray nor what prayer is. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss.”
Those who pray that the flame that envelops their entire house may be extinguished at once have been unbalanced by the shock of being caught unprepared. Prayer will not controvert common sense. Even God cannot help here, for god’s law was obeyed when the house caught fire. Why was it not prevented by the one in charge? Why resort to prayer at the last moment in any matter that might have been prevented but that was previously ignored?
Prayer is a reminder to “tune in,” so that you will take care of the matches and gasoline before they become instruments of a big blaze. Prayer is a comforter. It is a hope restorer. But if a man thinks that God is going to listen to him when he pleads on his knees in prayer to save his life at eighty, after having forgotten Him for seventy-nine years, he is entirely ignorant of the nature and function and purpose of prayer. But if one has been sincere and fair in all his dealings, he has been praying all the time, and his prayers are answered before he knows it. And he is pleased. And so is God.
If we are guided by the correction principles, if we live by the “golden rule” and refrain from coveting what belongs to others, then our sincere heart’s desires are the foreshadowing of their own fulfillment, just as a seed foreshadows the fruit. Our effort to discern and to submit them for spiritual sanction (“Not my will, but thine”) is but a mode of divination. Our prayer born of faith is the prophecy made manifest—the answer, not the petition (which was already manifest in our natural and wholly reasonable and God-implanted aspirations and ideals).
It is only the intellect that is capable of ineffectual prayer. To offset this, Jesus of Nazareth (He who demonstrated the power of effectual prayer in a life of action) invented a verbal safeguard. He taught His followers what was known as the Lord’s Prayer, to guide man in his blindness through self-created dark hours or ages, his anchor or hope held firm on rocks of abstract truth, until the light of inspiration once again breaks through the mental clouds of worldly chaos, to restore his heritage of the lost art of intuitive living, which is rewarded by the faith that sanctifies and guarantees the power and the effectiveness of his prayer.
The prayer that opens the gates of the mind through man’s mental “radio” and “television” is a mental-emotional attitude, not a ritual of words. It is a speechless outflinging of unseen antennae of nerves, by which man attunes himself to the “something else,” the “universal element,” the very source of his own being, across the gulf that only prayer can bridge by human radio.
And a “human radio” can do or ask no more than this. We climb the highest mountain of human endeavor, only to find, as others found before us, that within ourselves we are nothing. The soul within us, if not sleeping, is but the interception by our nervous system of the great Broadcasting Program of Man.
So when at last in my search for truth I had found my home, and made for myself a shrine of solitude where I could live an intuitive life and hear this program without distraction, I learned that labor was the wise man’s prayer.
I began to pray the prayer of perspiration, tilling the field and kneeling at the altar of nature to plant my seeds, chopping wood to sacrifice upon the altar of fire for the purification, the shaping, and the tempering of the iron and steel that symbolized our flesh and blood.
For a pulpit I made a workbench where I preached sermons in science without words, but by the work of my hands; where the smell of fresh-cut sawdust was my incense, and my prayers as those of the builders who sought to obey the law of the plumb, the level, and the square.
Is this idolatry? No. For it has a meaning. It is idolatry only when one worships or attunes oneself to the body and not the soul, to the symbol when ignorant of its meaning, to the idol instead of the Deity it represents, to the dollar instead of the bread of life it can buy, to the echo instead of the voice, to the mental concept instead of the living power to do. It is idolatry to worship by words without works, to socialize rituals exacting obedience to the letter, when ignorant of the spirit of truth.
And this is the truth that I learned in the desert, and proved to myself through the passing years: the flesh cannot pray. A sincere prayer is but an echo of God’s voice. God manifests Himself in our thoughts. He but whispers, and it becomes an echo in our prayers. Long before we ask for anything we have a right to ask, it is known and answered by an order that constitutes our faith. Thus faith is the sanction that our prayers are prophetic. And thus we reach the fulfillment of the intuitive life.
Then we learn anew that human brotherhood is possible only between intuitive men. Between wholly intellectual men only superficial and contractual bonds are possible. In marriage or in friendship “whom God hath bound, no man can put asunder.” But only the intuitive bonds are thus binding in life or in death. For of such is the love that is God.
“How knoweth this man letters, never having learned?”
He is a Son of solitude. Throughout the ages and throughout the world, he constitutes that brotherhood of man that is sensitive by inspiration to the mutual welfare that is “God’s will,” and that therefore gives body to a great kingdom of silence to that invisible theocracy, which, in spite of selfish usurpers, has ever controlled the hidden springs of human progress, writing in deeds the history of the world.
Man can go where he will on board the ship of this world; but in going with the ship he can go no faster or slower, for running madly back and forth on the decks. If one man fails to obey the commands of the captain of that ship, another will endeavor to do so—perhaps in a different way, but to the same end. Did you not hear the human radio broadcast at three o’clock this morning? Well, I did—so that message will be delivered in my words if not in yours.
If the boiler does not burst out in one place, it will in another. History, like water, finds its level, regardless of the paths chosen or accepted by resignation to gravity on the part of individual drops.
The “play” has been written; the cast of characters has been “fixed”; but the players of those parts remain to be selected for each performance.
In each generation “many are called but few are chosen.” All aspirants must qualify, but the aspiration is the very voice of the necessary qualifications.
Men fail to realize that their very existence is the function of a “pressure,” a power to which their “will” is not the steed but the harness; not the water, but the pipe and faucet.
The amount of pressure or power available is beyond the individual will or harness or pipe to determine. One may be left impotent or enabled to function with almost miraculous strength and understanding, according to whether or not he is playing his part as required by the Whole.
For thus wrote the hand of God in history; through the ambition, the energy, the enthusiasm, the inspiration, and the guidance that is provided for those who, wittingly or unwittingly, serve as instruments for the good of all, by power of intuition and love that is beyond individual comprehension.
The unwitting play their parts as puppets, and receive a puppet’s wage. But he who knowingly seeks to serve mankind unselfishly is raised into the understanding of the great Exemplar of this age: He who first played the leading part that each of us may emulate, but that none can excel.
For the voice of intuition whispers: “He who travels through the desert of ignorance and the wild jungles of man’s intellectual deformities in My name will be welcome in the green pastures of peace, wisdom, and love, where I dwell. So come unto me.”
So the curtain rises on the next act in the spiritual drama of this world. The breeze is blowing over the prairie…And the end is not yet.