The Teaching of Hazrat Inayat Khan
Vol. 11, Psychology
4. Suggestion through Various forms of Impression
Vol. 11, Psychology
4. Suggestion through Various forms of Impression
Colors and forms automatically suggest to us a thought or a feeling. The colors we wear and the colors that are around us have an effect upon us and produce an atmosphere. I once happened to go to a newly formed club, and some members said to me, "There is surely some evil spirit in this house, for since we have had our club here, every time we have had a committee meeting there has been a quarrel!" I directed their attention to the walls of the room where they used to have their meetings and which were covered with red paper. I said, "It is this red wallpaper; it appeals to the fiery side of your nature, and if there is any inclination to fight it encourages you.'
The ancient orders of sages and saints and contemplative people knew this, and with this thought in mind they chose the colors of their dress and of their surroundings. This idea is overlooked today, and people take any color which is the fashion of the season, not knowing what it suggests to themselves and to others. And so it is with the form of things. If an object is well formed it suggests rhythm and harmony, and if it is crooked it suggests the opposite.
In ancient times there were superstitions concerning good and bad omens. One of these was based on the principle that every color suggests to a person who is going to do some work whether he will be successful or whether he will fail; the impression he gets from that color stays with him to the extent that it has an effect upon his work. There was also a superstition that if one met a crooked person when going to one's work one would have illIi luck: not only a crooked person, but anything crooked one sees at such a time naturally impresses one's spirit with crookedness. Not everyone knows something about features, but every person is affected by features; he receives an impression from them without knowing it, for the form suggests something which he may not be able to describe, although he can feel it. It is a language without words; it conveys something, though it is not always easy for anyone to interpret it even to himself.
Every little pain and discomfort often continues through the power of suggestion. As soon as one feels discomfort or pain the mind repeats, "I have a pain. I am uncomfortable," and this suggestion adds to that pain, like fuel to the fire. Very often a person becomes tired before he has done any work because a previous experience of tiredness suggested it to him. There are many cases of people who are tired because of an impression in their mind which gives them the suggestion that they are tired. It is the same with weakness. Once a person is impressed with his weakness, his feebleness of body, this impression continues to act on brim; it comes as an inner suggestion. And if some good friend tries to help him by saying, "You seem to be very low today," then this only aggravates it.
There is another most important side to suggestion, and that is an impression on one's conscience of "I have done wrong," "I have done something which was unjust," "I was not fair; it was beneath my dignity." No doubt this impression is produced by the good side of a person's being, but often it results in something bad. For what happens is that first comes the idea of having done wrong, and then in time that feeling is blunted and a person begins to bear it and think that it is all right. But as the impression of having done wrong remains and continues to act upon him, this makes him do worse and worse. Thus a man who has been in prison very often continues to go to prison, continues to commit the same crime. The reason is that he is impressed by that crime, and the spirit which opposes it has become blunted. He is now accustomed both to his crime and to the punishment; in other words he has become master of the situation.
We see the same with children. If a child is impressed by something it has done which is good, and we admire it and say, "It is very nice," or if the child, of itself, thinks, "What I have done is very good", this continues to work in the child and in that way it will improve every day.
It is because they recognized the power of suggestion that the ancient people gave names to their children with a meaning that would suggest to them certain ideas. Naturally if a person hears his name called by others a hundred times a day, he has something suggested to him a hundred times. He may not realize it at the time, but the depths of his consciousness receive the suggestion and he develops that quality, for such is the nature of the soul.
This idea is very little known to the world, but the more it becomes known, the more people will understand its value. There is nothing in the world that can give a deeper suggestion to a person than his own name, for he is called by that name all the time. And one should be thankful to those who begin to understand this idea so that they can spread it among their friends. There is an automatic suggestion in the name. We hear ourselves called so many times during the day, and this produces the feeling of that name, not only in our own consciousness but also in the minds of those who call us. Automatically a feeling arises, and all this works for our benefit.
Many give names thoughtlessly, or names without meaning, and this of course has no result. And when a person has been given a name which means for instance something like torture, the life of that person may become torture in the end. Also, if the parents who give the child a name are not inspired, then an automatic working of the cosmic forces may suggest to them a particular name, and that name then builds the child's destiny.
It has been the custom of the great mystics to give someone a better name in order to produce better results. Sometimes a name given by a sage or a mystic in a moment of deep feeling, a name which comes out of his heart, changes the whole destiny of that person from the day that it is given. The poor become rich, the stupid wise, the insignificant great or famous. It is not only an idea, but a frequent experience. There have been many such instances when people have received a name as a blessing from a spiritual man and their whole life has been changed. We know so little about the power of the name, but the more one studies this question, the more one will realize that a person's name can have a very great influence upon his life.
Nothing gives a stronger suggestion than a deep impression of success or failure, of weakness or strength, of good or ill luck, of sorrow or joy; and it is the greatest pity when a person is deeply impressed by his unworthiness. When this impression continues, where does it lead him? It leads him to a complete unworthiness, and naturally he will have to bear with himself; and in that way the side of his nature which should oppose it becomes blunted, and this results in hopelessness.