Mental Radio, by Upton Sinclair, , at sacred-texts.com
The next thing is to carry out our promise and tell you the technique. My wife has, among her notes, a mass of writing on this subject in the form of instructions to Bob, and others who were interested. I tried to condense it, but found I could not satisfy her, and in the end I realized that her point of view is correct. No one objects to repetition of phrases in a legal document, where the one essential is precision; and the same thing applies to descriptions of these complicated mental processes. This was the most difficult writing task she ever undertook, and the reason lies in its newness, and the complexity of the mind itself.
If you want to learn the art of conscious mind-reading, this will tell you how; and if you don't want to learn it, you can easily skip this section of the book. Here is Craig's statement:
"The first thing you have to do is to learn the trick of undivided attention, or concentration. By these terms I mean something quite different from what is ordinarily meant. One
[paragraph continues] 'concentrates' on writing a chapter in a book, or on solving a problem in mathematics; but this is a complicated process of dividing one's attention, giving it to one detail after another, judging, balancing, making decisions. The kind of concentration I mean is putting the attention on one object, or one uncomplicated thought, such as joy, or peace, and holding it there steadily. It isn't thinking; it is inhibiting thought, except for one thought, or one object in thought.
"You have to inhibit the impulse to think things about the object, to examine it, or appraise it, or to allow memory-trains to attach themselves to it. The average person has never heard of such a form of concentration, and so has to learn how to do it. Simultaneously, he must learn to relax, for strangely enough, a part of concentration is complete relaxation.
"There seems to be a contradiction here, in the idea of simultaneous concentration and relaxation. I do not know whether this is due to a contradiction in the nature of the mind itself, or to our misunderstanding of its nature. Perhaps we each have several mental entities, or minds, and one of these can sleep (be blankly unconscious), while another supervises the situation, maintaining the first one's state of unconsciousness
for a desired period, and then presenting to it some thought or picture agreed on in advance, thus restoring it to consciousness.
"Anyway, it is possible to be unconscious and conscious at the same time! Almost every one has had the experience of knowing, while asleep, that he is having a bad dream and must awaken himself from it. Certainly some conscious entity is watching the dream, and knowing it is a dream; and yet the sleeper is 'unconscious.' Or perhaps there is no such thing as complete relaxationuntil death.
"All I can say is this: when I practice this art which I have learned, with my mind concentrated on one simple thing, it is a relaxation as restful, as seemingly 'complete,' as when I am in that state called normal sleep. The attention is not allowed to be on the sensations of the body, or on anything but the one thing it is deliberately 'concentrated' on.
"Undivided concentration, then, means, for purposes of this experiment, a state of complete relaxation, under specified control. To concentrate in this undivided way you first give yourself a 'suggestion' to the effect that you will relax your mind and your body, making the body insensitive and the mind a blank, and yet reserving
the power to 'break' the concentration in a short time. By making the body insensitive I mean simply to relax completely your mental hold of, or awareness of, all bodily sensation. After giving yourself this suggestion a few times, you proceed to relax both body and mind. Relax all mental interest in everything in the environment; inhibit all thoughts which try to wander into consciousness from the subconsciousness, or from wherever else thoughts come. This is clearly a more thorough affair than 'just relaxing.'
"Also, there is something else to itthe power of supervising the condition. You succeed presently in establishing a blank state of consciousness, yet you have the power to become instantly conscious, also; to realize when you are about to go into a state of sleep, in which you have not the power of instantly returning to consciousness. Also, you control, to a certain degree, what is to be presented to consciousness when you are ready to become conscious. For example, you want a message from the person who is sending you a message; you do not want a train of subconscious 'day dreams.'
"All this is work; and so far, it is a bore. But when you have learned to do it, it is an art worth
knowing. You can use it, not only for such experiments as telepathy and clairvoyance, but for improving your bodily health. To relax thoroughly several times each day while holding on to a suggestion previously 'planted' in the subconsciousness is more beneficial to health than any other one measure I know.
"The way to relax is to 'let go.' 'Let go' of every tense muscle, every tense spot, in the body. Pain is tension. Pain can be inhibited by suggestion followed by complete relaxation. Drop your body, a dead-weight, from your conscious mind. Make your conscious mind a blank. It is the mind, conscious or subconscious, which holds the body tense. Give to the subconsciousness the suggestion of concentrating on one idea, and then completely relax consciousness. To make the conscious mind a blank it is necessary to 'let go' of the body; just as to 'let go' of the body requires 'letting go' of consciousness of the body. If, after you have practiced 'letting go' of the body, you find that your mind is not a blank, then you have not succeeded in getting your body rid of all tension. Work at it until you can let both mind and body relax completely.
"It may help you to start as follows: Relax the body as completely as possible. Then visualize
a rose, or a violetsome pleasant, familiar thing which does not arouse emotional memory-trains. Gaze steadily, peacefully, at the chosen objectthink only of ittry not to let any memories it may arouse enter your mind. Keep attention steady, just seeing the color, or the shape of the flower and nothing else. Do not think things about the flower. Just look at it. Select one thing about it to concentrate on, such as its shape, or its color, or the two combined in a visual image: 'pink and round.'
"If you find that you are made nervous by this effort, it is apt to be due to the fact that you are thinking things. Maybe the object you have chosen has some buried memories associated with itsomething which arouses unconscious memories of past unhappy events Roses may suggest a lost sweetheart, or a vanished garden where you once were happy and to which you long to return. If so, select some other flower to concentrate on. Flowers are usually the most restful, the things which are not so apt to be involved with distressing experiences. A bottle of ink might suggest the strain of mental work, a spoon might suggest medicine, So, find a peace-inspiring object to look at. When
you have found it, just look at it, with undivided attention.
"If you succeed in doing this, you will find it hard not to drop asleep. But you must distinguish between this and the state you are to maintain. If you drop asleep, the sleep will be what is called auto-hypnotic sleep, and after you have learned to induce it, you will be able to concentrate on an idea, instead of the rose, and to carry this idea into the sleep with you as the idea to dominate the subconsciousness while you sleep. This idea, taken with you into sleep in this way, will often act in the subconsciousness with the same power as the idea suggested by a hypnotist. If you have ever seen hypnotism, you will know what this means. You can learn to carry an idea of the restoration of health into this auto-hypnotic sleep, to act powerfully during sleep. Of course this curative effect is not always achieved. Any idea introduced into the subconsciousness may meet a counter-suggestion which, if you are ill, already exists in the subconsciousness, and a conflict may ensue. Thus, time and perseverance may be necessary to success.
"But this is another matter, and not the state for telepathyin which you must avoid dropping into a sleep. After you have practiced the
exercise of concentrating on a flowerand avoiding sleepyou will be able to concentrate on holding the peculiar blank state of mind which must be achieved if you are to make successful experiments in telepathy. There may be strain to start with, but it is getting rid of strain, both physical and mental, which constitutes relaxation, or blankness, of the conscious mind. Practice will teach you what this state is, and after a while you can achieve it without strain.
"The next step: ask some one to draw a half-dozen simple designs for you on cards, or on slips of paper, and to fold them so that you cannot see the contents. They should be folded separately, so that you can handle one at a time. Place them on a table, or chair, beside your couch, or bed, in easy reach of your hand, so that you can pick them up, one at a time, while you are stretched out on the bed, or couch, beside them. It is best at first to experiment in the dark, or at least in a dimly lit room, as light stimulates the eyes and interferes with relaxation. If you experiment at night, have a table lamp within easy reach, so that you can turn the light off and on for each experiment without too much exertion, as you must keep your body and mind as passive as possible for these experiments. If you
have no reading light near, use a candle. You must have also a writing pad and pencil beside you.
"After you have placed the drawings on the table, turn off the light and stretch your body full length on the couch. Close your eyes and relax your body. Relax completely. Make the mind a complete blank and hold it blank. Do not think of anything. Thoughts will come. Inhibit them. Refuse to think. Do this for several moments. It is essential to induce a passive state of mind and body. If the mind is not passive, it feels body sensations. If the body is not relaxed, its sensations interfere with the necessary mental passivity. Each reacts on the other.
"The next step, after having turned off the light and closed your eyes and relaxed mind and body full length on the couch, is to reach for the top drawing of the pile on the table. Hold it in your hand over your solar plexus. Hold it easily, without clutching it. Now, completely relaxed, hold your mind a blank again. Hold it so for a few moments, then give the mental order to the unconscious mind to tell you what is on the paper you hold in your hand. Keep the eyes closed and the body relaxed, and give the
order silently, and with as little mental exertion as possible.
"However, it is necessary to give it clearly and positively, that is, with concentration on it. Say to the unconscious mind, 'I want the picture which is on this card, or paper, presented to my consciousness.' Say this with your mind concentrated on what you are saying. Repeat, as if talking directly to another self: 'I want to see what is on this card.' Then relax into blankness again and hold blankness a few moments, then try gently, without straining, to see whatever forms may appear on the void into which you look with closed eyes. Do not try to conjure up something to see; just wait expectantly and let something come.
"My experience is that fragments of forms appear first. For example, a curved line, or a straight one, or two lines of a triangle. But sometimes the complete object appears; swiftly, lightly, dimly-drawn, as on a moving picture film. These mental visions appear and disappear with lightning rapidity, never standing still unless quickly fixed by a deliberate effort of consciousness. They are never in heavy lines, but as if sketched delicately, in a slightly deeper shade of gray than that of the mental canvas. A person
not used to such experiments may at first fail to observe them on the gray background of the mind, on which they appear and disappear so swiftly. Sometimes they are so vague that one gets only a notion of how they look before they vanish. Then one must 'recall' this first vision. Recall it by conscious effort, which is not the same thing as the method of passive waiting by which the vision was first induced. Instead, it is as if one had seen with open eyes a fragment of a real picture, and now closes his eyes and looks at the memory of it and tries to 'see' it clearly.
"It is necessary to recall this vision and make note of it, so as not to forget it. One is sure to forget itindeed it is his duty to do soin the process of the next step, which is one of blankness again. This blankness is, of course, a deliberate putting out of the conscious mind of all pictures, including the one just visioned. One must now order the subconscious not to present it to the conscious mind's picture-film again unless it is the right picture, i.e., the one drawn on the card which is held in hand. Make the conscious mind blank again for a brief space. Then look again on the gray canvas of mind for a vision. This is to test whether the first vision
came from subconscious guessing, or whether it came from the deeper mindfrom some other source than that of the subconscious, which is so apt to offer a 'guess,' or false picture.
"Do this whole performance two or three times, and if the first vision persists in coming back, accept it. As soon as you have accepted itthat is, decided that this is the correct vision turn on the light, and without looking at the card, or paper, which contains the real picture, pick up the writing pad and pencil and make a sketch of every detail of the vision-picture. This is a nuisance, as it interrupts concentration and the desired passivity. But it is absolutely necessary to record the vision in every detail, before one looks at the real picture, the one on the card he has been holding in hand. If one does not make a record of his vision in advance of looking at the card picture, he is certain to forget at least some part of itmaybe something which is essential. Worse yet, he is apt to fool himself; the mind is given to self-deception. As soon as it sees the real drawing, it not only forgets the vision, but it is apt to imagine that it visioned the picture it now sees on the card, which may or may not be true. Imagination is a far more active function than the average person realizes.
[paragraph continues] This conscious-subconscious mind is 'a liar,' a weaver of fiction. It is the dream-mind, and also it is the mind of memory trains.
"Do not omit fragments which seem to be out of place in a picture. These fragments may be the real things. If in doubt as to what the object of your vision is, do not try to guess. But if you have a 'hunch' that something you have seen is connected somehow with a watch, for example, or with an automobile, make a note of this 'hunch.' I use this popular word to indicate a real presentation from some true source, something deeper and more dependable than our own subconscious minds. I call this the 'deep mind' in order to have a name for it. I do not know what it is, of courseI am only judging from the behavior of the phenomena.
"Do not fail to record what seems to be a stray fragment, for it may be a perfect vision of some portion of the real picture. Record everything, and then later you can compare it carefully with the real drawing. Of course, do not be fantastic in your conclusions. Do not think you have gotten a correct vision of an automobile because you saw a circle which resembled a wheel. However, I once saw a circle and felt that it was an automobile wheelfelt it so vividly
that I became overwhelmed with curiosity to see if my 'feeling' was correct, and forthwith turned on the light and examined the real picture in my hand. I found that it was indeed the wheel of an automobile. But I do not do this kind of thing unless I have a very decided 'hunch,' as it tends to lead back to the natural impulse of the mind to 'guess'and guessing is one of the things one has to strive to avoid. To a certain extent, one comes to know a difference between a guess and a 'hunch.'
"The details of this technique are not to be taken as trifles. The whole issue of success or failure depends on them. At least, this is so in my case. Perhaps a spontaneous sensitive, or one who has a better method, has no such difficulties. I am just an average conscious-minded person, who set out deliberately to find a way to test this tremendously important question of telepathy and clairvoyance, without having to depend on a 'medium,' who might be fooling himself, or me. It was by this method of careful attention to a technique of details that I have found it possible to get telepathic messages and to see pictures on hidden cards, and symbolic pictures of the contents of books.
"This technique takes time, and patience, and
training in the art of concentration. But this patience is in itself an excellent thing to learn, especially for nervous and sick people. The uses of mental concentration are too various and tremendously beneficial to enumerate here. The average person has almost no power of concentration, as he will quickly discover by trying to hold his undivided attention on one simple object, such as a rose, or a bottle of ink, for just a few minutes. He will find that a thousand thoughts, usually association trains connected with the rose, or the ink, will appear on his mental canvas, interrupting his concentration. He will find that his mind behaves exactly like a moving-picture film, or a fireworks display. It is the division of attention that uses up energy, if I am not mistaken.
"Of course this technique is not 'original.' I got it by selecting from hints here and there in my reading, and from my general study and observation of the behavior of the mind.
"Among the difficulties to be overcomeand this is one which is easily detectedis the appearing of visions of objects one has observed in the environment just before closing the eyes. When I close my eyes to make the next test, I invariably find that the last picture, and my own
drawing of it, and also the electric light bulb which I have lighted in order to see the last pictureall these immediately appear on the horizon of my mind. It often takes quite a while to banish these memory-ghosts. And sometimes it is a mistake to banish them, as the picture you hold in your hand may be quite similar to the preceding one. If, therefore, a picture resembling the preceding continues obstinately to represent itself, I usually accept it, and often find that the preceding and present cards contain similar pictures.
"Another difficulty is the way things sometimes appear in fragments, or sections, of the whole picture. A straight line may appear, and it may be either only a portion of the whole, or it may be all there is on the card. Then I have to resist the efforts of my imagination to speculate as to what object this fragment may be part of. For instance, I see a series of points, and have the impulse to 'guess' a star. I must say no to this guess-work, unless the indescribable 'hunch' feeling assures me it is a star. I must tell myself it may be indeed a part of a star, but, on the other hand, it may be a complete picture of the drawing in hand, perhaps the letter W, or M, or it may be a part of a pennant,
or what not. Then I must start over, and hold blank a while. Then repeat the request to the deep mind for the true picture. Now I may get a more complete picture, or maybe this fragment reappears alone, or maybe it repeats itself upside-down, or doubled up in most any way.
"I start all over once more and now I may get a series of fragments which follow each other and jump together as do the comic cartoons which are drawn on the screen with pen and ink. For instance, two points appear, then another appears separately and jumps to the first two, and joins up with them, then two more. The result is a star, and this may be the true picture. It usually is. But sometimes this is the subconscious mind, or perhaps the conscious, trying to finish the object as it has 'guessed' it should be. This error of allowing the conscious or the subconscious mind to finish the object is one to be most careful about. As one experiments, he realizes more and more that these two minds, the conscious and the subconscious, are really one, subconsciousness being only a disorderly store-house of memories. The third, or 'deep mind' is apparently the one which gives us our psychic phenomena. Again I say, I do not know what this 'deep mind' is; I use the words merely
to have a name for that 'other thing' which brings the message.
"The conscious mind, combined with the subconscious, not only wants to finish the picture, but decides sometimes to eliminate a detail which does not belong to what it has guessed should be there. For example, I will discuss the drawings which have been given as figures 35, 35a, in this book. I 'visioned' what looked like a figure 5, except that at the top where there should be a small vertical line projecting toward the right, there was a flare of very long lines converging at one end. I consciously decided that the long lines were an exaggeration and multiplication of what should properly be at the top of a five, and that I should not accept them. Here was conscious mind making a false decision. But by obeying the rules I had laid down in advance, I was saved from this error of consciousness. I closed my eyes, gave a call for the true picture, and the lines appeared again, so I included them in my drawing. When I opened the envelope and looked at the picture inside, it was an oil derrick. So the flare of long lines was the real thing, while the figure 5 was the interloperat least, so I now consciously decided. I thought that the figure 5 and the
flare of lines were entirely separate mental images, one following the other so rapidly that they appeared to belong together.
"But again my conscious decision was in error. Several hours later, after I had put the whole matter out of my mind and had been attending to household duties, I suddenly remembered the paper jacket of a German edition of my husband's novel, 'Oil,' which was on a shelf in the next room to the one in which I had made my experiments. Why did I suddenly remember this book? I had not noticed it for a long time its jacket drawings were out of sight, as the book was wedged between many others on the book shelves in an inconspicuous place in the room. On one side of the jacket of this book was a picture of three oil derricks; on the other side was a large dollar mark, almost covering one entire side of the book. I had seen this jacket, had indeed taken special notice of it, at the time of its arrival from Germany. So here seems to have been a clear case of the subconscious mind at work during my experiment, adding to my true vision of an oil derrick, the subconsciously remembered dollar mark which looked like a figure 5, partly hidden by the oil derrick in my vision. Here was a grand mix-up of the false
guesses of consciousness and subconsciousness, and the true presentations from the 'deep mind.'
"But this was not the end. This confusion in regard to the dollar mark went forward, in memory-trains to two other experiments. Several days later, I was trying a new set of drawings, and one of them caused in my mind a vision of the capital letter S. Instantly, two parallel straight lines crossed it, turning it into a dollar mark: $. Then it became an S again without the lines. Then the lines came back. This strange behavior of my vision continued. I was in a quandary as to which to accept, the S or the $. Then there appeared an old-fashioned money-bag, such as I used to see in my father's bank as a child, full of small coins. It took its place in the vision beside the dollar mark. I decided with the usual erroneous consciousness that this money-bag was a hint from my real mind, so I accepted the dollar mark as correct. But it turned out not to be. When I looked at the drawing in hand it was a letter S. My subconsciousness had supplied the money-bag, and the two parallel lines.
"Several days later, in a vision with a third set of drawings, I saw a letter S, and then at once the bag of small change appeared, but there
were no parallel lines on the S. This time the real drawing was a dollar mark! So, my subconsciousness, as soon as the dollar mark had appeared in subconsciousness, had meddled again; it had remembered the last experiment and the scolding I had given it for its guess work, so it now subtracted the parallel lines from the new vision to make it correct, according to the last experiment. It had remembered the last experiment only, forgetting the first one, of the oil derrick, just as I had ordered it to do on the occasion of the second experiment. So, it subtracted the two parallel lines, but it added the remembered bag of money, which I had included in my scolding. From this kind of interference by the subconsciousness, I realized that it is indeed no simple matter to get things into consciousness from the 'deep mind' without guesses and additions and subtractions made by the subconsciousness. Why the subconscious should meddle, I do not know. But it does. Its behavior is exactly like that of the conscious mind, which is also prone to guessing. All this sounds fantasticto any one who has not studied his mind. But I tell you how it seems to me.
"Maybe everything comes from the subconscious. Maybe there is no 'deep mind.' Maybe
the subconscious gets its knowledge of what is on the drawing directly from the drawing, and is merely blundering around, adding details by guess-work to what it has seen incompletely. But I think that these experiments prove that this is not the case. I think a study of them shows that a true vision comes into the subconsciousness, not directly from the drawing, but from another mind which has some means of knowing, and sending to consciousness via the subconsciousness whatever I ask it for. Of course I cannot attempt to prove this here. It was one of the questions to which I was seeking an answer, and the result seems to point to the existence of a deeper mind, showing how its behavior is quite different from that of the subconscious.
"I wanted to find out if the true vision could in any way be distinguished from 'imagination,' or these busy guesses of the subconsciousness. To help myself in this matter, I first made an examination of exactly how these guesses come. I said to myself: every thought that ever comes to consciousness, excepting those due to direct outside stimulation, may proceed from some deeper source, and by subconscious memory-trains attaching to them, appear to be the work
of subconsciousness. So I shut my eyes and made my mind blank, without calling on my mind to present any definite thing. I had no drawing in my hand. After a brief space of blankness, I relaxed the enforced blankness and waited, dreamily, for what might come. A picture soon came, with a whole memory-train. First a girl in a large garden hat, then a garden path and flowers bordering it, then a spade, a wheelbarrow, and so onthings associated in my memory with a girl in a garden hat. As to where the girl in the hat came from, I know not. As to why she should come instead of any other of billions of things seen by me during my life, I know not. I had not asked my mind for her. The question of why she came is interesting.
"But it was easy to account for the other thingsthe association-train. I learned from this experiment, and several repetitions of it, that something always camea girl, or a steamship, or the fact that I had not attended to some household duty, or what notand a train of associated ideas followed. I learned, in a more or less vague way, how these things behaved, and how I felt about them. This enabled me to notice, when later I got a true vision, that there was a difference between the way this true vision
came and the way the 'idle' visions came. When the true visions came, there usually came with them a 'something' which I call a 'hunch.' There was, of course, always in my consciousness the question: is this the right thing, or not? When the true vision came, this question seemed to receive an answer, 'yes,' as if some intelligent entity was directly informing me.
"This was not always the case. At times no answer came, or at least, if it came, it was obscured by guesses. But usually it did, after I had watched for it, and a sort of thrill of triumph came with it, quite different from the quiet way in which the money-bag had appeared in answer to my uncertainty. The subconscious answers questions, and its answers are always false; its answers come quietly, like a thief in the night. But the 'other' mind, the 'deep mind' answers questions, too, and these answers come, not quietly, but as if by 'inspiration,' whatever that iswith a rustling of wings, with gladness and conviction. These two minds seem different from each other. One lies and rambles; the other sings, and is truthful.
"But do not misunderstand me. I am not a religious convert. I am searching for knowledge, and recording what I find. Others on this search
may have found these same things, but the conclusions they have drawn may not turn out to be the ones I shall draw.
"One or two other things of interest should perhaps be mentioned. First, I found that, in doing a series of several drawings, the percentage of successes was higher in the first three attempts. Then there began to be failures, alternating with successes. This may have been due to the fact that the memory-pictures of these first three experiments now constituted a difficulty. So much attention had to be given to inhibiting these memory-pictures, and in deciding whether or not they were to be inhibited. Or it may be due to some other cause, such as fatigue or boredom.
"The second detail is that during the earliest experiments, I developed a headache. I think this was due to the fact that I strained my closed eyes trying to see with them. I mean, of course, trying to see a vision, not the card in my hand. Using the eyes to see with is a habit, and habits are not easily overcome. I soon learned not to use my eyes, at least not in a strained way, and this was the end of the headaches. However, this use of the eyes in telepathy may perhaps mean more than a mere habit. The mental canvas
on which these 'visions' are projected seems to be spread in the eyes, and it is the eyes which seem to see themdespite the fact that the room may be dark, the eyes closed, and the drawing on the paper be wrapped in thick covering and not within normal range of the eyes. But this may be due to the habit of associating all pictures with your eyes."