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Chapter XXVII - Mental Architecture

Chapter XXVII

Mental Architecture



"Architecture” means “the art or science of building or construction,” and “Mental Architecture” means” the art or science of Mind Building.” By “Mind Building” I, of course, mean “Brain Building,” for as I have told you in a previous chapter, the brain is the “machinery” of the personal manifestation of mind, or the “converter” or “transformer” of the Mind-Power. But as the word “mind” is generally used as synonymous with “brain,” in the case of individuals, I shall speak of “Mind Building” in this lesson, although I always mean “Brain Building” when I so speak.

The differing manifestations of mind in the various persons with whom we come in contact is at once recognized as depending upon the character, quality, degree and grade of their brain-material The brain is composed of a peculiar substance called “plasm,” or elementary living-matter. The word “plasm” is derived from the Greek word meaning “a mould or matrix,” and its use in connection with the brain-substance is peculiarly appropriate, for it is in the cells of the brain that “mental states” are “cast or moulded,” as it were. The brain is composed of an enormous number of tiny cells which are the actual elements in the production and manifestation of thought, or mentation.

These brain-cells are estimated at from 500,000,000 to 2,000,000,000, according to the mental activity of the person. There is always a great number of reserve brain-cells remaining unused in every brain, the estimate being made that even in the case of the wisest man, or most active thinker, there are always several millions of unused brain cells held as a reserve.

And the most advanced science also informs us that the brain “grows” additional cells to meet any demand upon it. And brain-building is the development and growth of brain-cells in any special region of the brain; for, as you probably know, the brain contains many regions, each region being the seat of some particular function, quality, faculty or mental activity. By developing the brain-cells in any special region, the quality, activity or faculty which has that region for its seat is necessarily greatly increased and rendered more effective and powerful.

The investigators along the lines of Phrenology have long since recognized the fact that brain-centers or regions could be developed by proper exercises, etc., and the text-books on that science give us many interesting facts regarding the same. These cases show us that not only is an individual able to develop and cultivate certain qualities of mind on the one hand, or restrain them on the other, but that also the very outward shape and size of the skull manifests a corresponding change, for the bony structure accommodates itself very gradually to the pressure of the increasing number of cells in some particular center or region of the brain. It is a fully demonstrated scientific fact that a man may “make himself over” mentally, if he will but devote the same degree of attention, patience and work to the subject that he would in the case of a desired development of some part of the physical body—some muscle, for instance. And the processes are almost identical in the case of muscle and brain-center—use, exercise and practice along the lines pointed out by those who have investigated and experimented along the particular line.

Prof. Elmer Gates, of Washington, D. C., one of the most remarkable men of this age, has given to the world an account of some remarkable experiments along the line of brain-growing, the experiments having been tried upon various animals. He tells us that his early experiments along this line were in the direction of training dogs to develop some one particular sense, that of seeing or hearing particularly. He would specially train a certain number of the animals according to his methods, and at the same time would keep a like number of the same animals of the same age, etc., without any extraordinary use of the particular faculty in question, and still a similar number without the opportunity of using that faculty at all. At the end of a certain time he would kill some of the animals belonging to each class, and upon examining the brains of each he made the discovery that the number of brain-cells (in the regions of their brains in which the sense or faculty was manifested) showed a startling difference, depending upon the degree of use and exercise of the particular faculty. His specially trained animals showed a much greater number of brain-cells than had ever been found in animals of the same breed and age. Prof. Gates continued these experiments over a number of years and obtained some remarkable results. He specially trained the faculties of some of his dogs so that they were able to distinguish between seven shades of red and a like number of green shades. I have not the time here to speak at length of the wonderful results of Prof. Gates’ experiments, but he has firmly established the scientific fact that brains may be “grown” at will, if the person will apply himself to the subject with sufficient zeal and ardor. I have conducted a number of interesting experiments (not with dogs, or through vivisection, however) which have proven conclusively to my mind that the entire natures, dispositions, characters and faculties of people may be entirely changed by intelligent psychological methods along the lines of Suggestion or Auto-Suggestion, accompanied with certain other methods to be mentioned in this lesson.

The great school of “New Thought” people of the various sects, cults and associations have been doing some excellent work along these lines during the past ten years or more. Their systems of “affirmations” and “denials” really developed or restrained their brain-centers and desirable qualities were increased and developed and undesirable ones were restrained. But the mere use of “affirmations,” “auto-suggestions” or even strong, positive suggestions given by another, forms only one-third of the work necessary in order to produce the best results. It is all very well to assert “I am Brave,” “I am Industrious,” “I am Active,” etc., etc., but if the work stops there it remains only one-third done. It is true that these affirmations and auto-suggestions undoubtedly do stimulate and develop mental faculties and brain-centers and play an important part in character building. But in order that they be used to the best advantage there must be visualization, and there should be a certain physical acting out of the mental suggestions or affirmation. There must be seeing and doing as well as saying.

You will remember what I said in my lesson on Mental Suggestion regarding the fact that “mental states take form in physical action,” and its twin-truth that “physical action produces mental states.” It is a case of action and reaction in both instances. For instance, if you will start in to feel angry, and keep it up a little while (even though the emotion is assumed for the experiment), you will find that your brows will form into a frown and that your hands will clench and your jaws will fasten into a savage “bite.” You know this to be true, of course. But then, on the other hand, if you will assume the above-mentioned physical characteristics accompanying anger and will keep them up earnestly for a short time, you will find yourself actually feeling angry. And the same thing is true of the feelings and actions of pleasure. Think intently of some pleasant thing and you will find your face breaking into an expression of pleasure—you will smile; your eyes will twinkle and you will manifest all the outward characteristics of pleasure. And, on the other hand, if you will “throw yourself into the part,” and will smile and manifest all the outward signs of pleasure, you will find yourself beginning to feel “bright, cheerful and happy” in a short time. I have seen a sign bearing the simple word “smile!” in big letters cause people to change their mental states in a few moments. They would take the suggestion and being amused at the sign they would begin to smile—then the smile’s physical actions would react upon their minds and they would begin to “feel good” and so on. I defy anyone to manifest the physical actions of any particular emotion or feeling, earnestly and actively, for a short time, without the corresponding mental state actually manifesting itself. Go into a business house manifesting the outward signs of good nature, confidence, self-reliance, etc., and you will not only impress others by suggestion, but you will also impress yourself, and you will begin to actually feel the thing that you have been acting out. Go into the same place manifesting the outward appearance of failure, lack of confidence, fear, etc., and not only will your suggestions be taken up by the others, but you will sink deeper and deeper into the mental state you are acting out.

I have known people to acquire a masterful, confident, reliant character by a systematic and persistent “acting out” of the part—their “second-nature,” so acquired, growing stronger than their original nature. The exercise of the faculty, in this way, developed the brain-cells in the proper area and the people were indeed “made over.” I know men who, when feeling “blue” or “discouraged” will always force a smile to their faces and in a short time they will regain their accustomed or desired cheerful state.

I have known at least one man to rouse feelings of stern determination by similar methods. This man was in a position in which there would frequently arise the necessity for the manifestation of the most determined sternness and an almost angry display of will. The man in question was by nature a good-natured, easy-going, kindly person, and he found it almost impossible to manifest the desired qualities upon the occasions mentioned. But one day he was roused to a state of intense determined sternness by a most annoying exhibition of careless action in the office, which although soon settled, left him with the physical reflex of the mental state just experienced. Before this physical condition had passed away there arose, unexpectedly, a case of genuine necessity for the exhibition of the stern, determined action mentioned in the first place. Meeting the man to whom this attitude must be manifested, our man found that, much to his surprise, he displayed a wonderful degree of the desired trait and gave the other man a talking to that made his hair stand on end, and brought the desired result instantly. No one was more surprised at this occurrence than our man, and after it was all over he tried to “figure it out”—and did. He came to the conclusion that when he was manifesting the physical conditions of the mental state, it required but a trifling effort to induce the state itself—in fact the state came almost “automatically.” He had discovered, by accident, a well-established psychological law. And he made use of it ever after. Thereafter, whenever he had to “work himself into a state,” as he called it, he would walk about his office a few moments before he would see the other man, and during his walk he would “bite” hard and protrude his jaw; he would frown and clench his fists and make his eyes glare, etc., etc., and before long he would feel himself in the proper mood to see the other man and give him the necessary” laying out.” The plan worked like a charm. I almost dislike to tell you the sequel, however. Our good-natured, “easy” man so developed these opposite qualities by this practice that in a few years he was known as a man to be dreaded by those who had occasion to receive treatment at his hands, and his whole nature seemed to have changed, and even his best friends would then hesitate to call him “easy” or “good natured.” He had made himself over—that’s all. And from this story you may build up a whole process of character building if you have sufficient imagination and ingenuity—for the principle is the same in all cases. Character is plastic—and may be moulded at will, by intelligent methods. But it takes more than “holding the thought” to do it—one must learn to act out the part desired, until it becomes second-nature.

I wonder how many of you will realize what a wonderful field is here opened out for you if you will follow the idea taught by the past few pages? How many of you will realize that I have herein given you the “Secret of Making Yourselves Over?” I wish that I could fairly “pound into you” this truth. When I think of what many of you are; and then of what you might be, if you would realize the inner truth and importance of what I have just told you—well, then, I feel like printing the tale in big, black-faced type and capital letters—so that I could make you read it.

I think that the facts and principles above stated are self-evident and need little or no backing up by authorities. But I think I will give you’ a quotation or two to help fasten the idea in your minds. Prof. Halleck says: “By restraining the expression of an emotion we can frequently throttle it; by inducing an expression we can often cause its allied emotion.” I wish that every one of you would commit the above words to memory— they are golden. By expression Prof. Halleck, of course, means the physical manifestation or expression—the physical action which springs from the emotion.

Prof. Wm. James has this to say along the same line: “Refuse to express a passion and it dies. Count ten before venting your anger and its occasion seems ridiculous. Whistling to keep up courage is no mere figure of speech. On the other hand, sit all day in a moping posture, sigh, and reply to everything with a dismal voice, and your melancholy lingers. There is no more valuable precept in moral education than this, as all of us who have experienced know: If we wish to conquer undesirable emotional tendencies in ourselves we must assiduously, and in the first instance cold-bloodedly, go through the outward movements of those contrary dispositions which we wish to cultivate. Smooth the brow, brighten the eye, contract the dorsal rather than the . ventral aspect of the frame, and speak in a major key, pass the genial compliment and your heart must indeed be frigid if it does not gradually thaw.” Aren’t those words fine? Read them over several times so as to be sure to grasp their full meaning! If you wish to cultivate a quality in which you are deficient, you must think about it, dream about it, concentrate upon it—live it out in your thoughts as a “day-dream” or “mental picture”—hold the visualized mental image of it always with you—and last, and equally as important, if not more so, act out the physical manifestations of it—play the part out. Act your part, earnestly, ardently, constantly, eagerly, steadily. On the other hand, if you wish to repress a quality, the best way to do it is to cultivate the opposite quality, and the undesirable quality will be “crowded out.” If you wish to get rid of darkness in a room, you don’t have to shovel it out—just open the windows and “let a little sunshine in.” Prof. James has told you the same thing in the quotation given a few moments ago. It is psychological law. Kill out the negative by cultivating the positive. That’s the rule! But don’t forget to act out the part!

What is called auto-suggestion, or self-suggestion, is one of the most active agencies employed in Mind Building. Auto-suggestion covers all the various forms of affirmations, denials, statements, etc., employed by the several “New Thought” schools, and is the underlying principle of all forms of “self-impression.” “Self-impression” would be a better name than any of these terms, for it described the process exactly. One “impresses” his mind with certain ideas, suggestions, feelings and mental states. There is a dual aspect of mind which enables one to play two parts at the same time, viz., (1) the part of teacher or master, and (2) the part of scholar or pupil. One may charge his mind with the task of waking him up at a certain time in the morning—and he wakes up. Or he may charge his mind to remember a certain thing—and he remembers it. This form of self-mastery may be carried to great lengths, and one may bid his mind collect data regarding certain subjects, from amidst its heterogeneous collection of mental odds and ends of knowledge; and then bid it combine the information into a systematic form—and the mind will so act and the combined information will be at hand when needed. I find myself doing this, almost unconsciously, when I start to write a book—fact after fact and illustrations appearing at their proper time and place. The field of self-impression has just had its outer edges explored—there is a great region of mentation here awaiting some of you. And so, this auto-suggestion is a case of “says I to myself, says I.” And the queer thing is that if you will impress your mind sufficiently, strongly, and with sufficient repetition, you will find it taking the impression and acting upon it. Repetition is a great thing in auto-suggestion. You remember the case of the man who told a certain lie so often that he got to actually believe it himself—repeated auto-suggestion works along the same psychological lines. Hearing a thing impressed upon it sufficiently often, it takes it as a fact, and proceeds to act it out accordingly. Constant affirmation and statement, made to one’s self, will manifest in actual conditions.

Many a person has changed his whole physical and mental condition by a careful, persistent course of auto-suggestion. Of course, if one combines the mental image, or visualization process with the auto-suggestion, he will obtain a doubly efficacious result. And,if, in addition to these two, he will practice acting out the part along physical lines, he will reap a ten-fold harvest of results. These three forms combined, employed and persisted in, will work miracles in anyone. For instance, if one suffers from fear in meeting other persons—an abnormal timidity or bashfulness, commonly called “self-consciousness”— the first thing for him to do, is to brace himself with constant affirmations or auto-suggestions of “fearlessness”; then he should visualize himself as absolutely fearless; then he should endeavor to reproduce the physical appearance and outward demeanor (an acting out of the part) of the fearless man. And thus will he gradually develop into that which he desires. His ideal becomes real—his dream a fact—his feelings actions—his actions feelings. And this rule and example will hold good along the whole line of personal qualities or characteristics. All come under the rule—the same principle works in all cases. Get the principle and you have the secret of the whole thing. But here I am going to suggest a little variation along the lines of auto-suggestion, which I have found to act admirably in this class of cases. The ordinary auto-suggestion, or affirmation works along these lines, viz., one affirms or suggests to himself something like this: “I am fearless—I fear nothing—I am courageous—I am filled with confidence,” etc., etc. Now this in fine—no one who knows anything about the subject will dispute the fact that a man “holding the thought” that” I am fearless,” will be filled with courage, and will manifest the qualities that he is claiming for himself. It is the old tried and oft-taught plan of affirmation or auto-suggestion that has worked wonders for so many people. And I positively advise you to follow this plan of “holding the thought,” and making the affirmations or auto-suggestions in the first person, when you are “going into action.” As a “bracer” it is unexcelled. But there is something else not so old—and here it is. You will see in the previous chapter, entitled “Healing Methods,” (in that part devoted to self-healing) I tell you to imagine yourself as “John Smith,” or whatever your name may be—that is, as a separate person, and then to “treat” him as such—just as you would a patient. Well, this plan also works admirably in cases of character building by auto-suggestion. While the “I am,” etc., plan is good as a bracer, and when going into action, still this last mentioned plan of mine operates far better when it comes down to steady “treatment” of oneself for mental failings; weaknesses and character-building. Just try both plans yourself and see if I am not right—but practice my plan a little until you acquire the “knack” before finally deciding the matter. Here is how it works in practice. Suppose you wish to cultivate fearlessness in place of the fear-thought that has bothered you so much. Well, in addition to the mental image of visualization and the never-to-be-forgotten acting out the part, you wish to try auto-suggestion. The old way, you remember, was to claim to yourself, “I am fearless,” etc. Now my new way of “treating” yourself is to imagine that you are “treating” some other person for the same trouble. Sit down and give a regular treatment. Imagine yourself as sitting before your personality—the central mind giving a treatment to the “John Smith” part of you—the individual “treating” the personality. The individual (that’s you) says to the personality of “John Smith”: “Here, John Smith, you must brace up and do better. You are “fearless, fearless, fearless! I tell you, you are fearless! You are courageous, and brave, and bold! You are confident and self-reliant! You fear nothing! You are filled with strong, positive Mind-Power, and you are going to manifest it— you are going to grow more and more positive every day! You are positive this minute—do you hear me? Positive this very minute! You are positive, fearless, confident and self-reliant right now, and you will grow more and more so every day. Remember now, you are positive, positive, positive—fearless, fearless, fearless!” etc., etc., etc.

You will find that by this plan you will be able to fairly pour in the positive suggestions to “the John Smith part of you,” and the latter will take them with the same effect as if there were two persons instead of one. And there are two persons, according to the occult teachings—the individual and the personality.

This plan will afford a welcome variation to the monotonous “I am this and I am that” methods which have caused so many once-ardent followers of the “New Thought” to throw up the whole matter in disgust. This wholesale “I am this and that” business has tired many a good soul who thereby let go just when in sight of attainment. To such and to all others I would say: “Try this new plan!” Learn to actually “treat yourself” by this method and you will be surprised at the rapid progress you will make as compared with the old plan. But don’t forget to impress upon the “John Smith” part of you that he must hold the mental image or visualization; and that he must start right in to act out the part! Don’t let him get away from this—insist upon it—cross-examine him about it before each treatment and hammer it into him hard. For as our colored brother would say. “He sure needs ’em all” to carry him through. Now, please experiment with this method on yourself and find out its wonderful possibilities by your own experience. Don’t rest with my say-so, but prove it for yourself. When once you have found out just what this method will do for you you will wonder that you had never thought of it before. You will cultivate a sense of individuality which will recognize the personality as a plastic something that can be moulded and shaped at your will by this “treatment.” And, best of all, you will learn to know that the individual is you, and you are the individual and that the personality is merely something that “belongs to you.” When you have reached this stage you will have called to your hand the forces of the great Mind-Power and will indeed have a right to call yourself “positive” and an “active center of power” in the great Ocean of Mind-Power. And all this will have been brought about by this new plan of “Says I to myself, says I.” Is it not “worth while?” Then start in to “make yourself over as you will!"


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