The Word Foundation


Harold W. Percival



Section 25

Self-suggestion. Intentional use of passive thinking. Examples of a formula.

Self-suggestion is not self-hypnotism. The difference is that in self-suggestion the doer does not put the body or itself into an artificial sleep. Self-suggestion is the impressing upon the breath-form and on the doer that which the physical body or the doer itself is to be or to do. These impressions are made with the consent or by the command of the doer.

Self-suggestion plays a part in self-hypnosis. It may be intentional or unintentional. People recognize that extraordinary results are sometimes produced by intentional self-suggestion; but the still more extraordinary results of unintentional self-suggestion are generally unrecognized.

Self-suggestion is based upon the facts that thinking is active and passive, and that passive thinking has usually more power than active thinking. Pictures, sounds, tastes, and contact by smell are continually rushing through the senses into the involuntary nervous system, in which the breath-form is. That system connects with the voluntary system, in which the doer is. There the pictures, sounds, tastes, and contact by smell play with the feelings of the doer, and, if the doer entertains them, it thinks them; and they become fixed upon the breath-form as sense impressions. Passive thinking never produces active thinking; but, when long continued, it compels active thinking on subjects of passive thinking, and so ultimately compels thoughts.

Passive thinking is unobtrusive, unobserved, automatic; and it accumulates until its mere quantity gives it a preponderance and power over active thinking. In addition to these features, passive thinking is ordinarily concerned with present objects perceived by the senses, therefore it usually cuts deeper marks on the breath-form than does active thinking, which does not have the same clarity and definiteness, and which consequently lacks the cutting edge that passive thinking has with its clear sights, sounds, tastes, and contact by smell. Other reasons are these: the senses are nearer the breath-form in elemental nature; the senses and the breath-form are in the involuntary system; therefore, the senses are geared into the breath-form and grip it closer than does the doer through the voluntary system; and, finally, the doer has given itself up to being controlled by the senses.

Passive thinking is almost the same as nature-imagination. They are to be distinguished in this way. Nature-imagination is included in passive thinking. It is that part of passive thinking which the present sense impressions take in connection with memories, and in which the senses play with the feelings of the doer more in relation to memories. In passive thinking, the senses, and the impressions which they bring, play with the feelings and desires of the doer under the Light of the Intelligence. Passive thinking often functions as nature-imagination, when pictures, sounds, tastes, smells and contacts call up memories of associated or similar impressions from the past. Such a combination has a power against which reasoning or desiring, even to the degree where it is called willing, does not avail.

Active thinking is the effort of the doer to hold the Light of the Intelligence on a subject of thought presented by the doer itself or by the senses. Active thinking is the attempt to gather Light and then to focus it, and is jerky and spasmodic. This requires the pressure of desire; and with this pressure, active thinking begins and at once makes an impression on the breath-form. Usually the impression is faint because the doer cannot focus continuously and give undivided attention.

The force of passive thinking can be used to remedy the troublous results of disease and want, to check the sort of passive thinking that produces them, and even to bring about an active thinking that will be right. While it is almost impossible for the doer to think out of itself the righteous thoughts that will produce righteous acts, it is not even difficult to lead the doer, by means of passive thinking, into active thinking that will produce thoughts which will be exteriorized in honesty, morality, health and peace.

Self-suggestion is the name given to the intentional use of passive thinking for these purposes. However, all passive thinking is self-suggestion, whether intentional or unintentional. Most of the thinking that people do is unintentional self-suggestion. The large majority live by passive thinking, and this determines their lives. Their lives are carried on without much of an object or a goal, and are steered or led into this position or that condition by their senses and by passive thinking with them.

The four senses present objects to the doer and play with them under the diffused Light of the Intelligence. If the doer considers these objects, passive thinking begins and the impressions become fixed on the breath-form. In this way are produced the notions and fancies which govern people’s lives. Fear of a danger or belief in the impossibility of accomplishing a thing realizes the danger and prevents the accomplishment. The use of one’s reason or will power, that is, the concentrated force of one’s desire behind the definite thinking, to overcome these notions, will not avail when the notions are strong. This is especially so when the memory of past experiences connected with similar impressions strengthens them.

Persons who are afraid of catching a cold from a draft, from wet feet, wet clothing or exposure are much more apt to do so than those who have no such notions. A person who is afraid of walking through the woods in the night may have his hair turn gray, or may contract a fever if he is forced to spend a dark night in a forest. Fear that a swelling will become a malignant tumor tends to make it grow into such. The greater a person’s fear of catching infectious diseases, the more liable does he become to contract one. A person that persuades himself that he cannot remember figures, names or places, cannot remember them, and one who believes that he cannot add a column of figures will surely make mistakes. A person who believes that he can never make a success of anything, disqualifies himself before the start; and if he starts he is practically doomed to failure. One who believes that he is too tired to finish a march, is likely to collapse. One who believes that he cannot cross a trestle or a plank or ledge at a height, is almost sure to fall.

Some people observing these results as facts seek to explain them by theories that there is an “unconscious mind” or a “subconscious mind” that brings about these phenomena. That which produces these results is the breath-form. It is not mind and it is not subconscious. It does not act consciously at all. It acts as an automaton, and manages the human body through the involuntary nervous system by means of the four senses and the three inner bodies.

There are only two kinds of impressions it can receive: impressions from nature and impressions from its own doer.

If the impression relates to feelings, the desires of the doer itself are bound to follow the lines of the impression. It is the same with impressions that relate to rightness in moral and intellectual matters; thinking is bound to follow the lines of the impressions just as did the elementals of nature and the desires of the doer. The markings on the breath-form are lines which compel the doer to follow them in its desires and mental activities. According to these signs, which it has made by thinking, the doer feels joy or gloom, ease or anxiety, fear or anger; and it thinks of noble or ignoble subjects with honesty or dishonesty, along the lines of the signs. In these lines is stored up a power which is the concentrated force of desire stamped there through the breath. This is the power which the mental healers generate and try to concentrate, and which they use wrongfully. Thinking, feeling, and acting are done along these lines. Their power is all-compelling unless there are clearer and deeper lines. Then these control.

Unintentional self-suggestion is the gradual making of these ruling signs without knowing it. The method of self-suggestion should be to make them intentionally, and yet not violate any law. The power of intentional self-suggestion can be called into play easily by using intentionally the unintentional method. The object is to produce passive thinking along certain lines which will make signs on the breath-form and compel a certain kind of action, feeling, thinking and being.

The points of the method are to cause passive thinking by seeing or hearing something which is unobtrusive and is done or occurs habitually, and which for these reasons accumulates or concentrates force in lines which it makes gradually, clearly and deeply. The seeing or hearing to be most effective should be done at those times when it will make the deepest impression, that is, in the morning soon after waking and at night before retiring. At night they should be the last impressions. Then they will be carried out more immediately because there is no interference by the doer with the marking of the lines on the breath-form. The last impressions will guide the thinking in sleep when the doer is dissociated from the senses. In the morning they should be the first, because on awakening the doer is relaxed, the breath-form is most receptive, and the physical body is rested. Thus the impressions are made, as it were, on a clean sheet.

These points are well covered by seeing and reading aloud a written formula or by the mere speaking of a formula every day, as the first thing done on awakening and the last thing done before going to sleep. The reading or mere speaking should be loud enough to reach one’s ear, and should be done at least three times on each occasion. The formula should be as short as the object in view permits and should have a measure, rhyme or cadence.

When the ear catches the sound, the three inner bodies and the breath-form are affected; the breath-form is the medium through which the doer feels the impressions. The doer feels them in the voluntary nervous system through the medium of the inner bodies and the breath-form in the set of nerve fibers through which the doer senses. Of course, the doer entertains these impressions, since they are intentionally made, and therewith passive thinking starts. The motor nerves of the voluntary nervous system act by means of the inner bodies on the sensory nerves of the involuntary nervous system, and those nerves, by means of the inner bodies, automatically start the motor nerve fibers of the involuntary nervous system to sculpture the impressions on the breath-form. The transfer forth and back from the involuntary to the voluntary nervous system is made through the pituitary body. The inner bodies are the magnetic and electric matter connecting the flesh body with the breath-form; they are the exact duplicates of the physical body, and they transfer the impressions from the flesh body to the breath-form and from the breath-form to the flesh body, by means of the nerves.

If the formula is well made, the impressions thus engraved upon the breath-form will have the power of sense impressions and will be clear; they will be cut in deep by memory and daily repetition, especially if they are repeated on rising and retiring; they acquire the power of nature-imagination, and as they become gradually deeper they become the strongest impressions upon the breath-form. When this happens the formula has won the day. It will mark out the lines for passive thinking, which will run along the grooves made by the formula. Whenever the person’s thinking wanders, it will run along these lines which dominate all else. No matter of what he is thinking, his thinking will be deflected into the lines. Therefore, once a certain depth or clearness of the impression has been made, it becomes deeper and deeper by pulling all thinking towards itself and into its grooves. After a while the passive thinking compels active thinking, and then a thought. The passive thinking suggests, for example, the thought of becoming and being well, and the active thinking generates and issues it. When the evidence of the senses is overcome by the first results of self-suggestion, faith in this method of healing springs up from within the doer. When the power of faith is added, the cure will be surely made, if it is possible.

The depth of the seal shortens the cycle of some thoughts and extends the cycle of thoughts which do not run along the lines of this dominant impression on the breath-form. In this way the firmness of the impression made by the repetition of a powerful formula will further increase. Astonishing results can be obtained by the repetition of a simple formula, provided it starts passive thinking and nature-imagination.

Nature-imagination can be induced by seeing as well as by hearing. Therefore if a formula is written out and read regularly, though in silence, the optic nerve plays the part of the auditory. When one reads the formula aloud so that one hears it, the sense impressions come through the optic as well as the auditory nerve, and are increased in their power to start passive thinking. The best results are obtained when the formula is repeated attentively at the regular times without active thinking and without wishing anything, as such mental activities interfere with the passive thinking upon which the results are based.

If self-suggestion is practiced in this manner, it will change almost any condition of the physical body from disease to health, or at least to a more tolerable condition. By self-suggestion can be prevented, cured, or at least greatly relieved: pains, blemishes, malformations, overweight, underweight, eruptions, inflammations, ulcers, abnormal growths, fevers; diseases of a sexual nature or diseases of the stomach, bowels, bladder or kidneys; or of the blood, heart or lungs; or of the nervous system; or of the eye, ear, nose or throat.

It is not advisable to try to remove one special affliction by self-suggestion, because the suggestion that is directed at that one might cause another in some other part of the body. The proper manner of effecting any cure by self-suggestion is to treat the constitution as a whole. Thereby all the organs in all systems are stimulated to function coordinately for health. When all the systems work together in this way the body will be reorganized for health, and the life forces will play through the body without being checked or overstimulated. When the body is in this condition no disease will take hold, nor can any retain its hold.

By self-suggestion one may free himself from psychic and mental conditions that are objectionable. So one afflicted with feelings of fear, despondency, indolence, bashfulness or lack of confidence, may remove them and substitute for them their opposites. By self-suggestion one may get himself into a train of thinking which will cure lying, dishonesty, cupidity, cowardice, selfishness and other moral delinquencies. Also intellectual shortcomings can be rectified by self-suggestion; and the power can be acquired to think clearly, to distinguish and to classify; or to abstain from irrelevant discussions and from flighty and loose thinking. Other faults can be remedied such as: disbelief in the doer or in its future; and egotism, that is, the feeling that the universe turns around oneself. Doubt that there is a Supreme Intelligence and law and order in the universe can be replaced by a better understanding through the simple means of self-suggestion.

The essential in practicing self-suggestion ought to be a proper formula for daily repetition. The propriety depends in the first instance upon the honesty and truth of the statements made in it. No formula should be used that is not in every respect honest as to aim and true as to statement. If a formula is used that is lacking in honesty and truthfulness, the power may be there, but the final results will be injurious to the body, the breath-form and the doer. Diseases and shortcomings must be recognized as such, and improvement must not be predicated as existing when it does not exist.

The propriety further depends upon the comprehensiveness of the formula. It should cover the body, the senses, the inner bodies, the breath-form, and the doer; and should have a reference to the Light of the Intelligence. The formula should also be framed in such a way as to cause thinking which will tend to balance thoughts—particularly those unbalanced thoughts that are the disease, and those that are about to become a disease. No money or other physical benefit should be received or given for imparting the science or teaching the practice of self-suggestion to anyone.

As an example of a formula to have physical well-being the following may be taken:


Every atom in my body, thrill with life to make me well.
Every molecule within me, carry health from cell to cell.
Cells and organs in all systems build for lasting strength and youth,
Work in harmony together by the Conscious Light, as truth.


The following is a formula for moral improvement as well as for conduct in business:


Whatever I think, whatever I do:
Myself, my senses, be honest, be true.


The cures accomplished by self-suggestion are no more real than the cures made by medicines, surgery, or by mental healing. At best, all these methods of healing by physical or mental means can restore normality for the time during which the signature of the disease or the impediment is weaker than the signature of the cure. Until there is a balancing of the thought of which the disease is an exteriorization, all other cures are nothing but respites. Balance the thought and the disease will be cured.

This system of self-suggestion agrees with the evidences of the senses, is honest in statement, is true in thought, is simple in its application, is free from the taint of money paid for mental healing, enables one to cure himself, follows the ordinary course of human thinking, and reaches far enough to comprise all possible taints not only of the physical body, but of the inner bodies, and the senses, the breath-form, and the doer. Doubt in the efficacy of this method, or reasoning about it, will not prevent its working a cure. However, if one’s destiny does not permit the respite which would be afforded by this method, there will come up a conviction that a cure is impossible, or a wish that a cure may not take place, or a belief that the formula will not be effective; and this mental attitude will prevent passive thinking from making its mark on the breath-form sufficiently deep to overcome the signature of the disease.

This system of curing disease is subject to the objection that it postpones the day of reckoning. However, the system of self-suggestion as here presented does not attempt to dodge merited results. It is not opposed to the law of thought; it works with it. The repetition of the formula will lead ultimately to balancing the thought that is the disease. Balancing that thought removes the cause and so cures the disease.

The lines made on the breath-form by the formula will compel feelings and desires to run in the grooves of the lines. In this way the feelings and desires will be changed from what they formerly were. The same lines will appeal to rightness and will compel thinking; and this thinking will be steady along the lines of the formula, and not spasmodic and jerky, as thinking usually is because it is not in accord with rightness. The lines will also concentrate the knowledge which the doer has on the subject of the formula, and will confirm, strengthen and increase that knowledge. So, on the one hand, elementals obey the signature which thinking along the lines of the formula has made; and on the other the doer feels comfort, ease, joy and sympathy, and thinks with clearness, steadiness and probity.

For millions of years nearly all human beings have been unable to hold the Light of the Intelligence steadily on moral, abstract or noetic subjects, and so have been impeded in balancing thoughts. Most human beings are too feeble to generate active thoughts on these subjects directly. It is almost impossible for the run of human beings to think out of themselves the moral thoughts that will produce moral acts, for there is no immediate moral background and no steadiness of thinking.

Therefore this system of self-suggestion is offered to provide a way of passive thinking that will induce active thinking steady enough to let one look into and balance thoughts. When the doer is in this state it is ready to balance the thought which is the disease.