I don’t know if you have read the story of the Life of Vivekananda. Have you? No… We could keep one day for that purpose because Sri Aurobindo quotes Vivekananda from time to time in The Synthesis of Yoga. Now let me read to you The Powers of the Mind. This is in connection with the Raja Yoga of which I have spoken yesterday. How do you develop the mental powers, what kind of powers are they? This is a lecture given by Swami Vivekananda in California on January 8, 1900.
“All over the world there has been the belief in the supernatural throughout the ages. All of us have heard of the extraordinary happenings, and many of us have had some personal experience of them. I would rather introduce the subject by telling you certain facts which have come within my own experience. I once heard of a man who, if any one went to him with questions in his mind, would answer immediately; and I was also informed that he foretold events. I was curious and went to see him with a few friends. We each had something in our minds to ask, and, to avoid mistakes, we wrote down our questions and put them in our pockets. As soon as the man saw one of us, he repeated our questions and gave the answers to them. Then he wrote something on paper, which he folded up, asked me to sign on the back, and said, “Don’t look at it; put it in your pocket and keep it there till I ask for it again.” And so on to each of us. He next told us about some events that would happen to us in the future. Then he said, “Now, think of a word or a sentence, from any language you like.” I thought of a long sentence from Sanskrit, a language of which he was entirely ignorant. “Now, take out the paper from your pocket,” he said. The Sanskrit sentence was written there! He had written it an hour before with the remark, “In confirmation of what I have written, this man will think of this sentence.” It was correct. Another of us who had been given a similar paper which he had signed and placed in his pocket, was also asked to think of a sentence. He thought of a sentence in Arabic, which it was less possible for the man to know; it was some passage from the Koran. And my friend found this written down on the paper.
Another of us was a physician. He thought of a sentence from a German medical book. It was written on his paper.
Several days later I went to this man again, thinking possibly I had been deluded somehow before. I took other friends, and on this occasion also he came out wonderfully triumphant.
Another time I was in the city of Hyderabad in India, and I was told of a Brahmin there who could produce numbers of things from where, nobody knew. This man was in business there; he was a respectable gentleman. And I asked him to show me his tricks. It so happened that this man had a fever, and in India there is a general belief that if a holy man puts his hand on a sick man he would be well. This Brahmin came to me and said, “Sir, put your hands on my head, so that my fever may be cured.” I said, “Very good; but you show me your tricks.” He promised. I put my hand on his head as desired, and later he came to fulfil his promise. He had only a strip of cloth about his loins, we took off everything else from him. I had a blanket which I gave him to wrap round himself, because it was cold, and made him sit in a corner. Twenty–five pairs of eyes were looking at him. And he said, “Now, look, write down anything you want.” We all wrote down names of fruits that never grew in that country, bunches of grapes, oranges, and so on. And we gave him those bits of paper. And there came from under his blanket bushels of grapes, oranges, and so forth, so much that if all that fruits was weighed, it would have been twice has heavy as the man. He asked us to eat the fruit. Some of us objected, thinking it was hypnotism; but the man began eating himself? So we all ate. It was alright.
He ended by producing a mass of roses. Each flower was perfect, with dew–drops on the petals, not one crushed, not one injured. And masses of them! When I asked the man for an explanation he said, “It is all sleight of hand.”
Whatever it was, it seems to be impossible that it could be sleight of hand merely. From whence could he have got such large quantities of things?
Well, I saw many things like that. Going about India you find hundreds of similar things in different places. These are in every country. Even in this country you will find some such wonderful things. Of course there is a great deal of fraud, no doubt; but then, whenever you see fraud, you have also to say that fraud is an imitation. There must be some truth somewhere that is being imitated; you cannot imitate nothing. Imitation must be of something substantially true.
In very remote time in India, thousands of years ago these facts used to happen even more than they do today. It seems to me that when a country becomes very thickly populated psychical power deteriorate. Given a vast country thinly in habited, there will, perhaps, be more of psychical power there. These facts, the Hindus, being analytically minded, took up and investigated. And they came to certain remarkable conclusions; that is, they made a science of it. They found out that all these, though extraordinary, are also natural; there is nothing supernatural. They are under laws just the same as any other physical phenomenon. It is not a freak of nature that a man is born with such powers. They can be systematically studied, practiced, and acquired. This science they called the science of Râja Yoga. There are thousands of people who cultivate the study of this science, and for the whole nation it has become a part of daily worship.
The conclusion they have reached is that all these extraordinary powers are in the mind of man. This mind is a part of the universal mind. Each mind is connected with every other mind. And each mind, wherever it is located, is in actual communication with the all world.
Have you ever noticed the phenomenon that is called thought–transference? A man here is thinking something, and that thought is manifested in somebody else, in some other place. With preparations, – Not by chance, – A man wants to send a thought to another mind at a distance, and this other mind knows that a thought is coming, and he receives it exactly as it is sent out. Distance makes no difference. The thought goes and reaches the other man, and he understands it. If your mind were an isolated something here, and my mind were an isolated something there, there were no connection between the two, how would it be possible for my thought to reach you? In the ordinary cases, it is not my thought that is reaching you direct; but my thought has got to be dissolved into ethereal vibrations and those ethereal vibrations go into your brain, and they have to be resolved again into your own thoughts. Here is dissolution of thought, and there is a resolution of thought. It is a roundabout process. But in telepathy there is no such thing; it is direct.
This shows that there is a continuity of mind, as the Yogis call it. The mind is universal. Your mind, my mind, all these little minds, are fragments of that universal mind, little waves in the ocean; and on account of this continuity, we can convey our thoughts directly to one another.
You see what is happening all around us. The world is one of influence. Part of our energy is used up in the preservation of our own bodies. Beyond that, every particle of our energy is day and night being used in influencing others. Our bodies, our virtues, our intellect, and our spirituality, all these are continuously influencing others; and so, conversely, we are being influenced by them. This is going on all around us. Now, to take a concrete example. A man comes; you know he is very learned, his language is beautiful, and he speaks to you by the hour, but he does not make any impression. Another man comes, and he speaks a few words, not well arranged, nor grammatical perhaps, all the same, he makes an immense impression. Many of you have seen that. So it is evident that words alone cannot always produce in impression. Word, even thoughts contribute only one–third of the influence in making an impression, the man, two–thirds. What you call the personal magnetism of the man? That is what goes out and impresses you.