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The power of suggestion means many different things to many minds. It is coupled with the idea of hypnosis, where the operator is able to make the subject think, say, do, or imagine anything he chooses. That is possible through the abnormal condition of the subject. The means and methods of inducing this abnormal condition are not generally known, although there are various ways of bringing on hypnosis.

But what I am discussing is the fact of suggestion itself, generally considered, and as it affects all men. People are not aware that they act almost entirely under suggestion. From our birth we are surrounded by those, who suggest certain ideas to us as true, and we follow these suggested ideas. There is very little original thought anywhere, and particularly this is true in those topics to which the public pays the most attention — that is, politics, religion, science. Whatever system of thought is presented to us, we adopt. We follow the suggestion given, with no attempt to reach to the basis of that which is suggested. The foundation upon which the suggestion rests is taken for granted, even in the most important things in life.

Religion, for example, is stated to be a ‘revelation.” We accepted it in childhood, accepted it as a fact, without looking into it to see what it is and on what it is founded. Our powers of thought and action being based upon a false suggestion does not inhibit their exercise, but as a result all our possibilities of thought and action, all our mental creations, the whole super structure of our existence, are false, because, thinking from false premises, our thinking will inevitably lead to false conclusions.

This is just as truly the fact as in the case of the hypnotized subject. He is thrown into an abnormal condition; he has nothing before his mind; the operator presents a given idea and with it the suggestion of a certain mode of action. Immediately, the subject adopts the suggestion, goes to work on it, and will continue working along the suggested line cumulatively until the suggestion is changed.

With our first sense of understanding, ideas are presented to us, instilled into our minds as absolute facts. We proceed from that basis, and however long it is followed, no true understanding or conclusion can be reached. What do we know of the truth or falsity of these ideas when presented to us in childhood? Nothing whatever. What do our parents and teachers know of them? Nothing whatever. They have merely passed on to us the suggestions, which they received in childhood and which have operated in them cumulatively ever since.

We must learn not to accept statements, no matter by whom made, simply because they are made to us. We must get at the basis of whatever is presented, know what its principles are — whether those principles are self-evident. If they are not self-evident, how can they be basic?

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