The Power of Awareness
EXPERIMENTS RECENTLY conducted by Merle Lawrence (Princeton) and Adelbert Ames (Dartmouth) in the latter's psychology laboratory at Hanover, N.H., prove that what you see when you look at something depends not so much on what is there as on the assumption you make when you look.
Since what we believe to be the "real" physical world is actually only an "assumptive" world, it is not surprising that these experiments prove that what appears to be solid reality is actually the result of "expectations" or "assumptions".
Your assumptions determine not only what you see, but also what you do, for they govern all your conscious and subconscious movements towards the fulfillment of themselves.
Over a century ago, this truth was stated by Emerson as follows:
As the world was plastic and fluid in the hands of God, so it is ever to so much of his attributes as we bring to it. To ignorance and sin, it is flint. They adapt themselves to it as they may, but in proportion as a man has anything in him divine, the firmament flows before him and takes his signet and form.
Your assumption is the hand of God moulding the firmament into the image of that which you assume.
The assumption of the wish fulfilled is the high tide which lifts you easily off the bar of the senses where you have so long lain stranded.
It lifts the mind into prophecy in the full right sense of the word; and if you have that controlled imagination and absorbed attention which it is possible to attain, you may be sure that all your assumption implies will come to pass.
When William Blake wrote,
What seems to be, is, to those to whom it seems to be,
he was only repeating the eternal truth,
there is nothing unclean of itself;
but to him that esteemeth anything to be unclean,
to him it is unclean.
Because there is nothing unclean of itself (or clean of itself), you should assume the best and think only of that which is lovely and of good report [Philippians 4:8].
It is not superior insight, but ignorance of this law of assumption, if you read into the greatness of men some littleness with which you may be familiar – or into some situation or circumstance an unfavorable conviction. Your particular relationship to another influences your assumption with respect to that other and makes you see in him that which you do see. If you can change your opinion of another, then what you now believe of him cannot be absolutely true but is only relatively true. The following is an actual case history illustrating how the law of assumption works:
One day, a costume designer described to me her difficulties in working with a prominent theatrical producer. She was convinced that he unjustly criticized and rejected her best work and that often he was deliberately rude and unfair to her.
Upon hearing her story, I explained that if she found the other rude and unfair, it was a sure sign that she, herself, was wanting and that it was not the producer, but herself that was in need of a new attitude.
I told her that the power of this law of assumption and its practical application could be discovered only through experience, and that only by assuming that the situation was already what she wanted it to be could she prove that she could bring about the change desired.
Her employer was merely bearing witness, telling her by his behavior what her concept of him was.
I suggested that it was quite probable that she was carrying on conversations with him in her mind which were filled with criticism and recriminations.
There was no doubt but that she was mentally arguing with the producer, for others only echo that which we whisper to them in secret.
I asked her if it was not true that she talked to him mentally, and, if so, what those conversations were like.
She confessed that every morning on her way to the theatre she told him just what she thought of him in a way she would never have dared address him in person. The intensity and force of her mental arguments with him automatically established his behavior towards her.
She began to realize that all of us carry on mental conversations, but, unfortunately, on most occasions, these conversations are argumentative... that we have only to observe the passerby on the street to prove this assertion... that so many people are mentally engrossed in conversation and few appear to be happy about it, but the very intensity of their feeling must lead them quickly to the unpleasant incident they themselves have mentally created and therefore must now encounter.
When she realized what she had been doing, she agreed to change her attitude and to live this law faithfully by assuming that her job was highly satisfactory and her relationship with the producer was a very happy one. To do this, she agreed that, before going to sleep at night, on her way to work, and at other intervals during the day, she would imagine that he had congratulated her on her fine designs and that she, in turn, had thanked him for his praise and kindness.
To her great delight, she soon discovered for herself that her own attitude was the cause of all that befell her.
The behavior of her employer miraculously reversed itself. His attitude, echoing as it had always done, that which she had assumed, now reflected her changed concept of him.
What she did was by the power of her imagination.
Her persistent assumption influenced his behavior and determined his attitude toward her.
With the passport of desire on the wings of a controlled imagination, she traveled into the future of her own predetermined experience.
Thus we see it is not facts, but that which we create in our imagination, which shapes our lives, for most of the conflicts of the day are due to the want of a little imagination to cast the beam out of our own eye.
It is the exact and literal-minded who live in a fictitious world.
As this designer, by her controlled imagination, started the subtle change in her employer's mind, so can we, by the control of our own imagination and wisely directed feeling, solve our problems.
By the intensity of her imagination and feeling, the designer cast a kind of enchantment on her producer's mind and caused him to think that his generous praise originated with him.
Often our most elaborate and original thoughts are determined by another.
We should never be certain that it was not some woman treading in the winepress who began that subtle change in men's mind, or that the passion did not begin in the mind of some shepherd boy, lighting up his eyes for a moment before it ran upon its way.
William Butler Yeats