The sub-conscious mind is the mind of Nature. It possesses extraordinary powers and intelligence, but no inspiration. It is instinctive: it is animal: it is natural: but there is nothing god-like about it—it is of the earth and the physical plane. It can be described as the inner forces of Nature resident within our body. Having said this we have said nearly all there is to be said about the sub-conscious, yet this is the mind of which some people have made a veritable god.
The sub-conscious mind, if led aright, is a very good friend, reducing all repeated thoughts and actions into habit, which, in time, become settled and part of the very life itself. Thus, by conscious right thinking and conscious right action, a good habit is formed, which becomes, in course of time, practically automatic. This, of course, builds up the character, which, in turn, affects the life. It will be seen then, how important is the right use of this willing and faithful servant. It is no god, it has no inspiration, but it is a very useful servant, as we shall see.
Most of our actions or movements are done or made sub-consciously. The reason that “practice makes perfect” is that the sub-conscious mind learns to do the task, and, by so doing, takes it off our hands. How difficult it is to learn to drive a motor-car. How carefully, at first, we have to double de-clutch and obtain the right engine speed for a noiseless “change,” yet, after a time, the whole action is performed sub-consciously. It is the same with pianoforte playing. Many players, some better than others, can play the most difficult classical music without consciously recalling it to mind. As soon as they try to remember the whole “piece” leaves them, but as long as they leave the whole matter to the sub-conscious (which never forgets) they can keep on playing. I and my conscious mind are not doing much of the actual writing of this book. We think the thoughts and have something to do with the formation of the sentences, but the sub-conscious mind writes them down. If I had to think of each word and letter, my task would be hopeless, and I should become half dead with fatigue.
The sub-conscious mind, however, is even more helpful, for it does the bulk of our thinking, and can be taught to do a great deal more. If we had to think everything out laboriously, according to the laws of logic, life would be unbearable. Instead of this our sub-conscious mind does the bulk or our thinking, and, if we give it a chance, will do it in an extremely accurate manner, strictly according to the laws of logic and without the slightest fatigue. The more that we train the sub-conscious to do our ordinary thinking for us, the less we suffer from fatigue. Fatigue is unknown to the sub-conscious mind, therefore we can never tire it or overwork it.
The sub-conscious mind can be made to do more and more work for us if we will delegate definite work for it to deal with. One who has learnt thought control, who can take up a matter, consider it in all its bearings, and then dismiss the subject from his conscious thought, is able to increase his efficiency a hundred per cent., and reduce his mental fatigue almost to vanishing point. Instead of laboriously working out his problems and worrying and scheming over them, he simply dismisses them to his sub-conscious mind to be dealt with by a master mind which works unceasingly, with great rapidity, extreme accuracy and entirely without effort. It is necessary, however, to give the sub-conscious every available information, for it possesses no inspiration or super-human wisdom, but works out logically, according to the facts supplied to it.
This great, natural, untiring “mind downstairs,” as it has been called, is also capable of doing even more useful work still. A writer or speaker, or preacher can collect notes and ideas for his article, book, speech or sermon, and pass them down to his sub-conscious mind with orders that they be arranged in suitable order, division, sub-division and so on. When he comes either to write or prepare the notes of his speech or sermon, he will find all the work done for him, and all that he has to do is to write it down, entirely without effort or fatigue.
Again, a business man who has learnt to make use of his sub-conscious mind in this way, need not juggle or worry or fatigue himself by planning and scheming for the future. All that he need do is to submit the facts to the “greater mind downstairs,” and all the planning will be done for him, entirely without effort, and far more efficiently than he would have done it through laborious conscious thinking.
The following, which has just been brought to my notice, is a striking confirmation of the teaching of this chapter.
In a recent issue of Collier’s Magazine, an interview with Henry Ford appeared. He spoke of the way with which big business men deal with problems, and pointed out that they did not spend a lot of time pondering and puzzling over plans or ideas. He said: “An idea comes to us: we think of it for a little while, and then we put it in the pot to boil. We let it simmer for a time, and then take it out.” What Henry Ford means, of course, is precisely what we have been saying, viz., that the idea or problem is dismissed to the sub-conscious mind, which works it out, and presents it to the conscious mind for judgment.
Yet again, an inventor or one who is constructing something mechanical, can make use of the sub-conscious mind in precisely the same way. Let him sum up the whole problem, arrange all his facts and available information, and pass them all to his sub-conscious mind, when, if a successful result is within the range of possibility, an answer or idea will be forthcoming. All this being done, mark you, without any effort whatever.
All this may seem, especially to some readers, rather wonderful and far-fetched, yet there is nothing occult or mysterious about it. I am perfectly sure that there is no great writer, politician or business man who does not make use of his sub-conscious mind in this way. He probably does so unconsciously, but his procedure is the same. Some employ the whole of their mind naturally. These become men of achievement, who occupy responsible positions, and who bear immense burdens without strain, worry or care. Responsibility sits lightly upon them, and they are serene and untroubled when in positions, and when confronted by tasks and difficulties, such as would drive an ordinary individual out of his mind. Such men develop their powers of attention and concentration (anyone who is in earnest can do this) to a very high degree. They are at great pains to get to the root of a problem, and obtain all the available data possible, but, after that, it is their sub-conscious mind that does all the work, and which arrives at a decision.
While it comes natural to a few to use their sub-conscious mind in the correct way, the majority of people find themselves unable to do so. Such, however, can acquire the art by training. First, it is necessary to learn thought-control, so as to be able to take up a problem or dismiss it entirely from the mind at will. When a problem is passed on to the sub-conscious to be worked out, the subject must be dismissed entirely from the conscious mind. The problem must not be worried over, nor the thoughts allowed to dwell upon it; it must be left entirely to the sub-conscious. Second, every possible detail and information connected with the problem must be grasped by the conscious mind, and the whole matter, pro and con, visualized before being passed to the sub-conscious. It will be seen, then, that thought-control of a high order is necessary, also powers of attention and concentration. These can all be developed by anyone who is really in earnest.
A good way of starting the use of the sub-conscious mind is to hold the problem in the mind just as one is going to sleep. There must not, upon any account, be any attempt made to solve the problem or to worry over it. Instead, the main facts of the case, on both sides, must be marshalled, and the case presented to the sub-conscious mind in much the same way as you would place it before your lawyer. Having done this, dismiss the whole matter to your sub-conscious mind, and in most cases you will find in the morning that a solution has been arrived at without any effort or fatigue on your part.
This, of course, is only one of the many ways in which the sub-conscious mind can, and does, serve its master, or the one who should be master. This great invisible force of Nature is for ever working. Whatever ideal is held in the mind becomes woven into the life through the tireless working of the sub-conscious mind. Only set your attention upon high and lofty achievement, and you will focus all the invisible inward forces of Nature upon its accomplishment. In course of time you will reap as you sow. If you will direct your attention into the right channel, backing it up with energetic, conscious action, your sub-conscious will help you day and night, thus making success and achievement possible.