How to Develop Creative Imagination
ALL creation is the result of giving something already in existence a new form; for
all that is and all that ever will be has ever existed in some condition. Creative
imagination, therefore, consists in rearranging the images already present in the
unconscious mind, or which may be acquired for the purpose, into new
combinations. Its application implies that the unconscious mind shall possess stored
experiences in a state suitable for use, and that energy of sufficient intensity be
applied to these mental factors to cause them to enter into new and unique
arrangements with relation one to the other.
The kaleidoscope well illustrates this process when it is unguided by desire. The
instrument contains loose fragments of colored glass and reflecting surfaces so
arranged that changing its position presents the contents in an endless variety of
symmetrical vari-colored designs. But the unconscious mind and its
thought-elements, thought-cells and dynamic thought structures, as I have set forth
in detail in Chapter 10 (How to Cultivate Subliminal Thinking), is never
uninfluenced by desires. Each thought-element is associated with the Conditioning
energy which accompanied its formation, as is each thought-cell and
thought-structure; energy straining for release in a given direction, such as we call
Some of these desires are more powerful than others, and the one largely able to gain
the attention of the unconscious mind at the time, exerts an influence upon the
kaleidoscope fragments of experience somewhat parallel to that exerted by a magnet
on iron filings.
Place iron filings on a plate of glass. They lie, like the mental factors within the
unconscious when unaffected by desire, in a listless heap. But put a horseshoe
magnet under the glass and all is changed. The filings leap into definite and beautiful
designs, and follow all movements of the magnet. Desire energy is the magnet which
is responsible for all movement, all change of pattern, and all new combinations of
mental factors within the unconscious mind.
Creative Work Depends Upon Reproductive Energies
–The energy released by the Drive for Self Preservation, or by the Drive for
Significance, is sufficient to cause trains of thought of intensity to pass through the
unconscious mind. And some worthwhile new combinations may result from the
thought processes thus set in motion. But the experiences of writers, composers,
inventors, artists, and all those to whom we credit creative work, is that creative
output of volume and importance, on any plane, is dependent upon the creative
energy of the Drive for Race Preservation.
In other words, the procreative instinct has for its object the creation of something
outside the self, and through all time since the soul started its journey it has been
engaged in acquiring Significance through producing something new. It has thus
been specifically conditioned to create, rather than to acquire. Thus is creative
expression dependent upon sexual power.
Poorly sexed individuals never become noted for any kind of creative output.
Hermaphrodites, and those of little sexual vigor, become the best of all mediums.
They are easily dominated and controlled by a more vigorously sexed mind; and as
irresponsible mediums sometimes are the instruments through whom a large amount
of creative work is accomplished. But it is the controlling intelligence, in such cases,
that does the actual creative work.
Back of all important creative activity, back of creative imagination of value, lies
reproductive energy as the driving power. And as a corollary, the use of creative
imagination, and creative work of all kinds, consumes sexual energy. Modern
biologists and physiologists, such as Alexis Carrel, of the Rockefeller Institute,
winner of the Nobel Prize in 1912, have commented on the relation between sexual
energy and creative mental output; holding that a person engaged in such mental
work could not expend his energies too freely through marriage relations without
lowering his mental output; where a person doing merely routine work would not be
Those who would develop creative imagination, therefore, must not dissipate their
creative energies wantonly. Instead they should learn, as explained in Chapter 5
(Why Repression is Not Morality), to Condition the reproductive desire to find a
higher satisfaction through creating mentally than in flowing through more physical
channels of expression. Not that a celibate life is essential for creative work; but that a
reserve of reproductive energy should be present which may be diverted, as occasion
demands, into mental creation.
While we occupy physical bodies the intensity of both physical and mental activity is
largely, as explained in Chapter 9 (How to Think Constructively), determined by
the electricity generated in the brain and nervous system. Creative activity, either
physical or mental, requires a high electrical potential. Mental creation requires an
electrical potential even greater, and radiations of even higher frequency, than mere
physical procreation. Yet through Sublimation the electrical energies responsible for
procreation are given a higher frequency and higher potential such as enables them to
create on the mental plane. In fact, in all important mental and artistic creation and in
all exalted emotion and feeling of religious devotion, a portion of the electrical
energies responsible for physical procreation is thus Sublimated, or diverted into a
higher plane of expression.
For the specific generation of electrical energies, such as have intensity sufficient for
use in procreation and other creative activities, by the cells of the brain and nervous
system, the organism has developed special endocrine glands. It has developed the
secretion of adrenaline and intercortin to meet the emergency of fight or flight, and
these secretions generate potentials especially adapted to these emergencies. But it
has developed different endocrine secretions, those of the gonads, to meet the
emergency of procreation and other creative activities. And these gonad secretions
are specially adapted to generating within the brain and nervous system electrical
energies of the proper potential and frequency to do creative work.
Creative geniuses of all kinds–famous poets, famous composers, famous writers of
fiction, famous actors, famous painters–have, like the moving picture stars of the
present time who also are creative artists, the reputation of many irregularities in
their lives. Some of the most productive writers of fiction of all time, like George
Eliot of England and George Sand of France, for instance, both women of
world-wide fame, have been noted also for the unconventionality of their loves.
It would be erroneous, however, to conclude from this that amours and creative
genius are necessarily companions. For there have been other geniuses of great
productivity whose lives have been quite conventional. But we are quite warranted in
concluding that the glandular makeup of those who do much creative work is such as
to give unusual sexual power.
Some of these are successful in Sublimating so large a part of this excess of sexual
energy that their lives are quite regular. They are able to divert the abundance of
electrical high tension into the channels of their work. But others, having the same or
even higher electrical tensions, are able to Sublimate only a portion of it into their
work, and the remainder drives them into excess, or into affairs that are not
sanctioned by society.
Writers now quite generally recognize the relation between sex energy and creative
output. Even the most dissolute among the more successful ones, while engaged in
writing, live continent lives. Until the piece of work upon which they are engaged is
finished they refrain from alcoholic beverage and from too close association with the
opposite sex. Then with the literary effort delivered to the editor they go on a
jamboree that justifies their reputation as drunks and profligates. Such a mode of life,
which is followed by some also in other lines of creative work, is reprehensible; but it
nevertheless points to the working of a law, which these people have discovered
through practical experience, that for creative work there must be a sufficient reserve
of sex energy.
When such a reserve of sex energy is present, if it is to accomplish worthwhile mental
work it must be directed into some specific channel of creation, and subjected to
sufficient control that it does not run riot. Monastic life many times in history has
been responsible for religious manias and wholesale hallucinations, due to the
reproductive energies accumulated in forced celibacy running rampant with the
imaginations of whole groups. The electrical energies present in high tension and
over abundance created mental images that became so vivid, and charged with force,
that they assumed the properties of physical presences.
As indicating the force of mental images, thus highly charged, to produce physical
results, the records of stigmatization in the case of numerous individuals, from the
thirteenth century down to the present day, are well attested. The votary, dwelling on
the thought of the crucifixion, and identifying himself sympathetically with the
image of the dying savior, received on his own body similar marks which became
permanent. On some, the records show, no doubt because their imaginations were
centered chiefly on it, there appeared only the mark of the crucifix. But on the bodies
of others appeared wounds that bled, wounds of the nails and thorns and scourging.
Creative imagination, when it has sufficient electrical energy at its command, can
produce the phenomena of the spiritistic seance room. That the phenomena are
commonly produced through the direction of the creative imagination of a discarnate
entity, rather than that of the person chiefly supplying the electrical energy, does not
vitiate the principle.
All the evidence, again considering inadequately directed reproductive energy,
indicates that an ascetic life, in which the sexual impulse is repressed, is the most
highly productive in the development of psychism and a fertile and vivid
imagination. Various strong desires of thought-cells and thought structures, finding
no external avenue of expression, divert their energies into four-dimensional
activities. The electrical tensions of high potential, generated in the brain and
nervous system by the action of the gonad endocrine secretions, not finding a
physical avenue of expression, exert a powerful pressure toward the creation of
mental images. Fancies flow through the brain so highly charged with electrical
energy that they seem convincing realities.
Nothing develops the ability to see, feel and hear psychically quicker than a complete
suppression of the normal physical functions, especially the suppression of strong
reproductive energies. But under such crowding and forcing, that which is seen, felt,
and heard, although to the one having the experience it is most convincing, gives
little information of value, and a multitude of errors.
I have enjoyed a wide experience checking the accuracy of the clairvoyant,
clairaudient and psychometric experiences of those who have forced these faculties
through asceticism. And I have found that to the extent there has been such forcing
through repression, that the reports given are inaccurate and unreliable. Year after
year I have been given predictions, warnings, and messages by those who still
believe they are wonderful psychics, and whom no one could convince otherwise,
practically none of which has proved reliable or of any value. What they thought was
seen or felt or heard was really an image, often a preconception, in their own minds
into which had been drained high tension electrical energy.
This, of course, presents no argument against the development of the psychic senses
through normal methods of unfoldment; nor against the proper use of creative
imagination. It simply indicates that when the energy present is too powerful to be
controlled, or no special effort is made to direct powerful electrical energies when
these are generated in the brain and nervous system, that these follow their natural
creative trend, but their mental creations are inimical rather than beneficial.
Before indicating how the energies of creative imagination should be directed,
however, it seems best first to consider the images of the unconscious mind, new
combinations of which it is the function of the creative imagination to form.
Source of Images Used in Creative Work
— The experiences, physical and mental, which form the thought-elements, thought-
cells, and dynamic stellar structures comprising the unconscious mind have fused
according to the Law of Association; and they are recalled into objective
consciousness in conformity to this law. Yet the individual has a certain power to
create new Associations between the factors within his unconscious mind. If he
could not do so there would be no power of discrimination; which requires that
important matters, for instance, be selected and held before the attention apart from
the unimportant material with which they were originally associated.
The process of separating images and other mental factors from the material with
which they originally were linked in Association is called Dissociation. Some
persons have great difficulty in Dissociation. And as creative imagination must make
use of Dissociated ideas or images, they are unable to perform any work that they
have not seen done in detail. They are unable to originate any marked variation in
methods of work, unable to form an opinion of worth that they have not already heard
expressed. Their mental processes are too tight.
People with small imagination often have a great fund of knowledge which has been
integrated as received, but subjected to no process of dissociation in which it has
been examined in a large variety of ways, in new combinations. Such an individual in
relating an occurrence must tell all the details; if he tries to leave anything out,
however unimportant, it breaks the whole train of his thought. Those of this type of
mind often have unusually retentive memories, but cannot pick out a passage from a
memorized poem without repeating the poem from the beginning. Thus it is that
those of much learning often are so hampered by the fixity of the contents of their
minds that they cannot adapt themselves. Such ultra-conservatives travel in a rut;
unable to dissociate the ideas they have received from books or from precedent.
Those, however, who have the Individualistic Urges more prominent in their mental
makeup, such as are mapped in a birth chart by a prominent planet Uranus, find
dissociation easy. The thought energies mapped by Uranus tend to act as alternate
currents, attracting strongly for a time, then as strongly repelling. This breaks up the
mental fixity, enabling new combinations of ideas to be made. More than any others,
the individualistic Urges mapped by a prominent birth chart Uranus, give originality.
Mental fertility depends upon the supply of material at hand and its dissociation. By
way of illustration we can think of any number of things that can be made from a large
granite boulder. It may be used, finely ground, as sand in mortar; crushed to proper
size as cobblestones; in larger blocks as building material, as monuments, or as part
of a breakwater protecting a harbor. But so long as the boulder remains intact it
cannot be converted into any one of these uses. It must first be broken into pieces of
suitable size. And for mental fertility, the mental contents must be broken up, severed
from the fixity of their original association. The ability to do this may be cultivated
through the habit of viewing experiences from various angles and in diverse
Yet if there is to be great fertility there must also be plenty of material within the
unconscious mind thus to dissociate. Invention is more frequent among civilized
peoples, not because they have stronger energies, and not merely because they have
the thought-cells mapped by Uranus more powerful in their astral bodies, but
because they have a so much wider field of information from which to draw their
material. Also, they have devised methods of directing their desires more
persistently toward a single end.
Yet the unconscious mind has within it, or easily accessible, a vastly wider field of
information than has the objective consciousness. The objective consciousness has
at its disposal only those images and ideas which can be brought up, through the
process of memory, in a manner that they impart vibratory energy to the physical
brain cells. And because the physical brain cells offer so much resistance to the
process, making new and complex combinations of mental factors in this way is a
laborious process and consumes much electrical force.
When the conscious mind has its attention focused on creating through the use of the
imagination, it has three sources from which to draw its materials. Within it, and
therefore accessible for use by the imagination, are stored the experiences of the soul,
including those it has had in the process of its evolution through innumerable lower
forms of life. On the astral plane are an inconceivable variety of conditions which
may be examined through the use of the independent psychic faculties, or by the soul
during the hours of sleep.
An artisan, desiring to accomplish a certain result, even if the artisan is but a bird
striving to build a nest or a bee endeavoring to build honey-comb, searches for
suitable material. The energy put into the search depends upon the intensity of the
desire. The degree of intelligence displayed in selecting the material depends upon
the organization of the unconscious. Thus the unconscious mind of man, urged by
intense desire to create mentally, seeks for the proper material to use with such
intelligence as it possesses. If the desire is intense enough, it will explore widely in
the astral realm.
Furthermore, it possess the ability to tune in on other intelligences, both on the
physical and on the inner plane, who possess the kind of information it seeks. It is
able not merely to explore the astral plane, but to take advantage of the knowledge
and ability of those who are still more competent; of those who are willing to help in
If the desire is intense, with energy at its command to release, and the individual is
not hampered by the conviction that all knowledge must come through the five
physical senses and reason, the unconscious mind leaves no stone unturned either on
the physical or the astral plane to acquire proper material for the creative work
Directed Thinking in Creative Work
–But For efficiency in using this material there must be the power to discriminate
and to do Directed Thinking. Fantasy thinking, because strongly influenced by other
desires, is too wasteful. It brings great quantities of material that are unsuitable for
use, and arranges them in unsatisfactory patterns. Birds and ants go to a great deal of
extra work because they do not discriminate in the selection of material and have not
the power of Directed Thought to arrange it. A bird having the power of Directed
thinking could build a nest with one-tenth the labor.
To start the unconscious mind on its search for material, there must be an intense
desire to obtain a given result. Work on any plane is always at the expense of energy.
The work of an organism is directed by desire energy, and, other things being equal,
the more desire energy diverted into a given enterprise, the more accomplished. And
for creative imagination, or other creative work, there should be, as previously
indicated, a powerful supply of creative energy which through Sublimation can be
diverted into the enterprise decided upon.
Nearly all important inventions and discoveries and artistic productions project
themselves into objective consciousness complete as to general scheme and outline.
The unconscious mind, in some manner given the impetus, has assembled material
and arranged it suitably.
There remains for the objective consciousness, therefore, the gradual bringing up
from the unconscious realm the details of the work. Yet this does not signify that no
improvement can be made on the original plan presented. With more material, at
least, better details may be afforded. The competent artist or inventor, therefore, will
read all that others have written relating to the matter, will talk with those interested
in similar endeavors, and in all ways will endeavor to add to the material from which
the unconscious mind can make selection. Such procedure also encourages the
unconscious to follow a similar method of research on the astral plane.
Truly creative work implies the use of the imagination. The workman who merely
builds to the blueprint furnished by an architect does little in the way of creation. The
creative work was done by the architect. Yet there are various kinds of Imagination.
Imagination is used by science in all discoveries except those purely accidental. It is
used in the commercial world for planning. Then there is the utopian type, which
envisions conditions as they should be, if? But as we are specially interested in the
attitude towards life of these three great classes of individuals, let us examine the
kind of imagination used by the Materialist, that used by the Mystic, and that
employed by the Occultist.
The aim of the material scientist is, as nearly as possible, to reproduce in his
imagination the relations and processes of nature in all exactitude. All too frequently
he restricts the material used to the reports of the five senses, and even then discards
observations against which schooling has given him prejudice. He uses carefully
ascertained facts presented clearly, in the proportion and arrangements found in
nature, and with no distortion by the imagination. He is the exact antithesis of the
mystic, who pays no attention whatever to the facts of the objective world, but relies
entirely on his imagination to create a world such as he desires.
Where the material scientist endeavors to make every image definite, and an exact
representation of an external fact, the mystic uses suggestive symbolic images and
creates an ideal universe, according to his own conception of how a universe should
be which he projects outward. Mystic literature, consequently, so long as it is
mystical, is always obscure; ever hinting, suggesting and insinuating, but seldom
giving concrete reliable facts. It stimulates the reader to picture things as the reader
would have them.
Mystical thought is vague because it is mere fantasy. The imagination, left to itself,
exaggerates the significance of the symbols which it uses, and stops at no
extravagance. A revengeful and jealous Jehovah, for instance, was created by
mystical imagination because a jealous god was desired by a jealous people.
And today, as in the past, fantastic ideas are being created by mystics and taught as
truth. They are accepted by other mystics because these find in such notions the
things they desire to find in the universe. They say that a notion appeals to them,
hence they accept and act upon it. It appeals to them because it taps and releases
desire energy. It is wish fulfillment. Yet the world of the mystic, and many of the
things of the external world in which he has faith because they appeal so strongly to
some desire to have them that way, have no existence except in imagination.
The mystic is accustomed to finding satisfaction for his desires within; he is of the
introvertive type. His desires often are unusually strong, especially toward the
realization of ideals; and his objective mind is unusually receptive to his
unconscious. Due to the intensity of his desires, and the readiness with which
material can be brought up from his unconscious, no form of imagination exceeds in
fertility that of the mystic. His ingenuity often is amazing. And coupled with this is
the general belief that all which is received from within must be true. In his case it is
more often merely the wish fulfillment, created by his imagination, of some intense
Yet we should not consider an imagination valueless which does not, like that of the
material scientist, reproduce nature exactly and in proper proportion. To give a plain
statement of fact may be scientific, but is never literature. Literature, which has an
exalted value, appeals to the feelings and common associations, the details being left
to the imagination. Each thus is permitted to fill in such particulars as are most
attractive to him. It is what is left unsaid, as much as that which is related, that makes
Following the same line of thought, a photograph may accurately represent
something, yet be inartistic. To paint accurate to life in color and in detail the picture
of a lovely woman is not art. But to give only such lines and colors as will stimulate
the imagination of each person viewing it to construct a mental picture such as is
most lovely to him, to see what he specifically most ardently desires, is art. And art
has an exceptionally high value to human life.
It is not that the mystic creates a world as he would have it that is open to criticism; it
is that he believes so thoroughly in the concrete reality of what his imagination
creates. Music speaks to man in a language of symbolism. But to believe the voices of
the instruments speaking in a symphony are the voices of people, either of this plane
or of the inner, and that they are saying definite things, is to permit the mystical
imagination to warp the judgment.
The mystical type of imagination, because it surpasses all others in ingenuity and in
the diversity of material it can assemble, is most useful. It is only when, as happens in
the case of the typical mystic, it departs from concrete images to place confidence in
those created by the imagination, that it becomes inimical. Uncritical mysticism has
been, and is today, the greatest foe of human progress; for even selfishness gives way
before truth; but when fancies are substituted for facts, there can be no adequate
adaptation. Yet when the mystical imagination is checked by experimental methods,
it becomes one of man’s greatest assets.
Unrestrained by critical methods, the mystical imagination leads to a warped
conception of the universe; for it permits desires to distort the images of reality. It
thus paves the way to fanaticism. Mystics are usually queer and eccentric.
Sometimes they are unbalanced and fanatic. Occasionally they are the perverts;
because their imaginations suggest plausible but unusual methods of expressing the
desires that have found no normal outlet for their expression.
How the Occultist Differs From the Mystic and Materialist
–The Occultist differs from both the material scientist and the mystic. In fact, he
may have qualities of both; but this he does, he uses all possible means, internal and
external, to check the accuracy of his knowledge. Like the mystic he may imagine
something. But before accepting it as a reality he devises ways and means of testing
its truth.The materialist has hypnotized himself into the belief that all phenomena can, and
must be, explained by material processes. When phenomena originating on the astral
plane are presented to him he concludes they can be explained by some as yet
undiscovered law of matter. He believes his eyes and ears and feelings only so long as
they present no proof that there is any realm other than the physical.
But the Occultist rejects no facts reported, regardless of the plane of their origin. He
does, however, find means by which to test the facts as to their accuracy. His
imagination does not accept as facts the things of its own creation, as does that of the
mystic. And having a so much wider field from which to draw information, that is,
from both the three-dimensional realm and the four-dimensional realm than does the
material scientist, he is able to construct a far more perfect conception of the
The field of information of the materialist is too narrow. That of the mystic is broad
enough, but in his mental processes there is a tangled mass of fancies interwoven
with a few facts gleaned from actual astral experience, and usually warped from all
semblance of the truth by some dominant religious emotion. The Occultist, in his
research, makes use of such methods as are reliable that are employed by both the
material scientist and the mystic.
But whatever type of imagination is used for constructive purposes, the general
principles are the same: There must be supplied by the unconscious mind as wide a
variety of material relevant to the enterprise as possible. There must be intense desire
energy straining for release in the direction of the contemplated mental creation. And
finally, there should be some facility for the product created by the unconscious to be
recognized in objective consciousness.
–Closely related to the mystic type of imagination is a mental process of which few
of us are completely free. It is called Rationalization. This consists of arriving at a
conclusion, or doing something, and then finding a plausible reason for it. The
individual thus believes he has arrived at the decision through the process of
reasoning, or at least that it is something quite reasonable, when in fact it is largely or
wholly a matter of wish fulfillment.
A mob, for instance, can always find a good reason for what it does. In fact, mass
psychology in general is mostly a response to wish fulfillment which is rationalized.
And it is said that love is blind. It is so to the extent that desire for a certain perfection
creates that perfection in the imagination and crowds out, for the time being, the
image of reality.
We should recognize that the more direct appeals to sensation, because they have had
more cultivation in the development of life, commonly afford the strongest
stimulation to desire. A shrewd business man, for instance, in selecting a mate,
commonly finds physical beauty more attractive than brains. If his reason were
dominant it might deem intelligence more attractive. But reason is a late biological
acquisition, and physical attractiveness has an age-long appeal.
The release of the desires through the avenue of creative imagination is not always in
the direction of beneficial endeavor. As already indicated, negative desires create the
image of the condition not beneficial, and because it is held before the attention,
action is in the direction of fulfilling this inimical image. Nor is it necessary, for
creative imagination to operate in this manner, that we shall be conscious of the
importance of what is taking place within.
When some person displeases us and we permit a momentary flash of anger and
immediately forget the incident, but an hour later awkwardly cut a finger with a
knife, let us not deem this chance. Analysis will bring to light a train of thought
within the unconscious in which the anger gave rise to a fantasy, a dream in which
imagination, prompted by the animal instincts, actually pictured an assault against
this person with a deadly weapon. The unconscious expresses symbolically, and the
cut with a knife was really an expression of the suppressed desire to kill our friend.
Children crossed in trifles by playmates or parents commonly indulge in fantasies in
which they avenge themselves for the fancied injury by inflicting death. The child
would not carry out such an action, but the repressed displeasure, lending energy to
the creative imagination, gives rise to a fantasy. And this is the common rule, that any
desire which is repressed instead of having its energies diverted into some channel of
expression, sets up streams of fantasy thinking within the unconscious of which the
objective mind is seldom aware, but which, in some manner tends to find symbolic
expression, often in our mistakes and blundering actions.
I have already mentioned the feeling of guilt and how the unconscious often metes
out punishment because of it. But also if we feel angry at ourselves, this may lead to
some form of accident. The resentment against self sets up a train of fantasy images
released by the desire of the anger imparted to the thought-cells. A group of thoughts
has been endowed with the feeling that action should be taken against the self. Then,
while the mind is busy with something else, a few days hence, the individual falls
down stairs, steps in front of a passing automobile, or through some other accident is
It is a very frequent thing for a person suffering from a severe disappointment to be
accidentally hurt or killed. The disappointment depresses him and he thinks to
himself: “This world is a poor place to live. I would be better off dead, as I have such
wretched luck.” He puts much feeling into this thought, into his brooding, and then
turns his mind to necessary tasks. On opening a bureau drawer he finds a pistol that
excites his curiosity, or absent-mindedly blows out the gas.
The consciously thought desire for death, even though transitory, acted as a
suggestion to the unconscious. It would have never been carried out in action with his
conscious sanction. But a train of fantasy thoughts was commenced, charged with
the desire energy his brooding imparted to them. When the unconscious accepts a
suggestion to do something, creative imagination starts to invent a way for it to be
realized in fact. And when conscious attention is off guard, giving the unconscious
an opportunity to carry out what creative imagination has devised, such as when
preoccupied with something, the unconscious brings the event to pass. It is a
dangerous thing to entertain thoughts which we do not mean; for they so easily slip
past objective consciousness into action in spite of ordinary vigilance.
But the unconscious, through inventing ways to bring things to pass, is able to
exercise a beneficial function. It becomes aware, through the psychic senses, or
through talking with others while the objective consciousness is asleep, of many
things it is impossible for the objective mind to know without its assistance. Among
people not crammed with artificial education there are many little signs of
Do not in false superiority laugh at the Roman soldier who starting for the wars
stumbled on his threshold and turned back because he took this as a symbol of death.
His unconscious mind probably knew much more of what would happen to him if he
were on the battle field than the modern professors do who dismiss the affair with the
A knife dropped at table may really signify the approach of a lady, a fork so dropped a
visit from a man; and before denouncing people as superstitious who believe thus it is
well to find out in how many such instances the signs are verified by subsequent fact,
unknowable to the objective mind beforehand. The unconscious mind, if set to the
task, would have no difficulty in discerning who, if anyone, was approaching; nor
would it find much difficulty in controlling the unconscious muscular activities
sufficiently to cause the dropping of the table-ware which properly symbolized the
type of individual who would come.
Even the things we forget that we should remember are symbols, illustrated in the
case of forgetting the name Brown as mentioned in Chapter 10 (How to Cultivate
Subliminal Thinking), of something going on in the thought processes of the
unconscious mind. To misquote a well known poem or saying is not just an accident.
Analysis will reveal that the unremembered words are associated with some
repression, that is, some painful image or experience, and that the words substituted
are symbols of some desire. Pain is repellent, and thus disagreeable things are
forgotten, kept from repeating their pain by being recalled into objective
consciousness. Yet there are always desires seeking expression, which tend to do so
in symbolic form, when opportunity presents.
If I call a person I know well by a wrong name, it is because there is an unconscious
train of thoughts passing through the unconscious mind in which the person
mentioned, or something with which he is associated, is under consideration.
Furthermore, a lie always betrays itself to the keen observer; for volitional effort
cannot conceal for long the truth which the little unconscious movements reveal.
To go calling on a person and in a brown study pass his door without turning in, only
to be awakened to the fact after having gone by, is to acknowledge that there is
something disagreeable to the unconscious about the call. It is probably a duty call, or
at least there is a desire of the unconscious to be elsewhere engaged. To forget an
appointment is an acknowledgment there is no strong desire to keep it, or that there is
some disagreeable element in it. Whoever heard of an impassioned lover forgetting
the time or place of an appointment with the idol of his heart!
Why We Forget Resolutions
–We forget resolutions because there is a repressed desire that opposes them. If we
desire completely to do a thing, and there is no repressed desire opposing it, we never
forget to do it. But when the unconscious is divided into two opposing camps, the
more primitive desires, with much energy at their command, are apt to get the better
of the situation, and thus the higher but less energetic desires slip from conscious
In reading we often mistake words. Such is not mere chance; for it can be shown by
Free Association that either the printed word is associated with some painful mental
image, or the substitute word bears some significance as the symbol of a desire with
which in some manner it has become associated in writing, also, when we use a
wrong word which on reflection we recognize as wrong, it is because the wrong word
bears a pleasanter association in the unconscious than the right one. The attention can
be volitionally directed to but a few considerations at one time, and the thousand and
one actions of life that are more completely directed by the unconscious while the
objective mind is attending to other things, accurately portray the inner desires.
The feeling of intense abhorrence for something, of hate, or of disgust, indicates that
certain groups of thought-cells, which have a dominant power at the time, are in a
state of active conflict and aggressive antagonism against the desires of the
thought-cells associated with the condition toward which the Feeling is directed.
Emotions are aroused only when the unconscious mind is given to believe there is an
emergency. And such strong emotions indicate that the emergency is acute. It
signifies that, within the unconscious, the thought-cells associated with the
conditions are strong enough to put up considerable resistance. In other words, the
individual who expresses undue repugnance at some act is much nearer that act than
is the individual who can view it undisturbed and with a judicial outlook. He must
summon all his reserve to escape it.
Those who make crusades against a given vice always have within themselves a
strong temptation toward it. It is the violence of the struggle within which they
project outward toward conquering the condition in the external world.
Nor is the power of creative imagination, even when its processes are unrecognized,
limited to causing undesired actions of the muscular system. It can bring changes
quickly in the chemistry and physiology of the human body. An illustration which
can find plenty of verification in almost any rural community is the bean cure for
warts. College professors may shout, “ridiculous!” but it actually works, as rural
people can testify.
A person having a wart is told that if he will take a bean, split it in half and rub the
inside of the two halves on the wart, afterward burying them in a crossroads at
midnight, that the wart soon will follow the bean and go away.
The individual possessing the wart is given assurance that this works; and various
persons who have had warts thus removed may be called upon to testify as to the
efficacy of the process. The suggestion still further gains attention through the
mystery of the rite performed, rubbing the wart with the bean, and then the unusual
act of going to a crossroads at midnight, and the final burying of the two halves of the
bean which are reputed to attract the wart. A day or two later, he looks where the wart
was, and it has entirely disappeared, often leaving no mark to show where it was.
In many processes by which valuable results are obtained, or those dire, it is difficult
to separate creative imagination from suggestion. That is, suggestion plays an
important part in directing the activities of the unconscious mind to create something
on the inner plane. This something thus mentally given creation then may be brought
up into the objective world in some manner. It may be a change in the health, it may
be a musical composition, it may be an invention, or it may be an act of the individual,
unintended by his objective consciousness, through which the mental image is
But in all cases it is the desire energy released into the process that gives it the power
to create or bring about changes. The amount of work thus done is commensurate
with the desire energy diverted into the process. And if new combinations are to
occur, that is, if there is creative activity, some of the energy supplied the process
must be creative in character.