Yoritomo-Tashi presents to us ideas that enormously dominate the human mind through this tremendously inspiring book, Influence: How to Exert It. In the twelve lessons contained in this book, the methods by which influence may be exerted and exercised are considered. According to the author, the key to success lies in the art of influencing others. Just as the flower exerts its influence by spreading its fragrance, the great philosopher believes, the spirit of the individual continuously exerts influence. It’s a wonderful and refreshing book, and I am sure you will gain tremendous insight from it.
INFLUENCE: HOW TO EXERT IT
Yoritomo-Tashi, whose precepts are presented in this book, ranks as one of the three greatest statesmen that Japan has ever produced. He was her most illustrious and wise Shogun, and, as founder of the first Japanese dynasty of Shoguns, the reviser of the Empire’s code of laws, and the organizer of military feudalism, he rescued his native land from the slough of demoralization into which it had sunk. In 1186 he established the seat of his government at Kamakura, where he organized an administrative body similar in its methods and operation to the metropolitan government.
From what is known of his public career, it is evident that the great Shogun exercised a dominant influence over the minds of his people. To him the art of influencing others was the key to Success. The great philosopher believed that the spirit of the individual continuously exerts influence, even as the flower also exerts influence by spreading its fragrance in the air. But just as the blossom cannot tell whither its fragrance spreads, so none of us can say how far our influence may reach. To an anonymous writer we owe the thought that “Influence never dies.”Every act, emotion, looks, and word make it felt for good or evil, happiness or misery.
In the twelve lessons that Mr. B. Dangennes has drawn from the writings of Yoritomo-Tashi, and presents in this book, the manner in which Influence may be exerted and the means by which it may be exerted and the means by which it may be exercised are considered. One lesson is devoted to the increase and expansion of psychic forces to awaken the dormant energies within us; another explains how influence may be exerted by persuasion and suggestion; a third shows the value of the fix idea when supported by logical arguments; a fourth treats the magnetic influence of the human eye and provides exercises for its development; a fifth deals with the power of good example; a sixth points to value of perseverance–the achievement of great things by utilization of spare moments; a seventh emphasizes the power of concentration, and provides exercises for its acquisition; and an eighth shows that by exchanging confidence one may exert a mighty influence that can benefit even those suffering from mental and physical ailments.
“Confidence,” says Yoritomo, “is the foundation of courage and the mainspring of action.” How much our own EMERSON believed in this aphorism he has told us– “Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.” To confide in another, even though one is betrayed, is better than to conceal. The man who suspects evil is seeking in his neighbor for the very thing that he sees in himself, while he who exerts a useful influence is the man of strength and initiative who consecrates his energies to the achievement of that which is good.
Throughout the following pages the Editor has provided suggestions, examples, and exercises as aids to the Reader in the acquisition of this, the desirable art of knowing how to influence others in the world at large.
The success that has attended the publication of “Timidity Overcome” has encouraged me to print the precepts of Yoritomo-Tashi.
The attention of the public is now turned toward the old Shogun, whose doctrine, ringing with truth, is as applicable to the needs of our own day as in the time when it was first revealed.
Moreover, it is embellished with legends, gentle smooth, grassy slope on which appear, here and there, scattered among rough oak trees, the rarest and most exquisite flowers.
Thus it is with a deep and serious joy that I have again opened the manuscripts of my friend, the deceased Commandant B –, to transcribe in out own beautiful language the precepts and reflections of him who was at once a leader of men and a spiritual guide.
We find them veiled, as it were, under a robe of gray velvet, a dull vestment that the years wove of writings of men, but, without fearing the light cloud that soon will powder my own locks, I reread his vibrating phrases of persuasive clearness and convincing sincerity.
Again, little by little, I feel myself swayed by the charm already experienced; and the influence of these words, which seem to spring from the very beginning of time, and to have been diffused throughout the world, attract me and enthrall me with the doctrines of his philosophy in ever-increasing admiration.
Influence! That almost magical word, what things it suggests!
To influence others! What a marvelous gift, and what assured success to him that possesses it!
He will know only by name the torments born of antipathy and of the loneliness of self-isolation from the rest of mankind.
The weaknesses of the will, the terrors that cause the rise of the phantom of agonizing doubt, will be strangers to him.
Both the spirit and the body will be under command.
The griefs of life never will completely overwhelm him, for, having foreseen them; he will know how to mitigate them.
He will have the joy of seeing that men’s hearts, under the influence of his word and his example, will open to pure and noble sentiments.
The art of succeeding will become familiar to him, for he will know how to attract to himself voluntary collaborators.
In short, his power will set him apart as a being different from others, and, to use an ancient Japanese saying, filled with dominating power: “He will build his palace on the bones of the timorous.”
Little by little, the radiating action of this expanding will acts on me; why not try, through Yoritomo, to speak of this art, more magnificent than all others, since it renders contagious the cult of proselytism and shows us how to prevent it from becoming sterile.
To influence others is not to play the part of creator, since it brings to life in the minds of men an idea which without its aid never would have germinated.
Is it not to become a sort of providence, since good influence buries vice, the source of unhappiness and restlessness, to install instead perfect calm, the joy of living, and the security which always precedes happiness, or at least allows us to maintain ourselves in that state which most nearly approaches it.
With fervor, then, I have once more unfolded the writings of the philosopher, to transcribe the maxims and the luminous legends that make the study of his work so special and so attractive.
Although all truth is eternal, I trust that in this book, as in others that have preceded it, the reader will feel the undeniable and peculiarly genial attraction of the doctrine that the ancient Shogun exercises over the minds of those that know how to grasp and comprehend it.
BY INCREASE AND SPREAD OF PSYCHIC FORCES
“There is a country situated no far from the River Yet-Sin,” said Yoritomo, “wherein certain villages are renowned for the curative property of the air.”
“With the lightest breezes are diffused balsamic odors, which pour into weak lungs the restoring breath they pant for. At the coming of spring invalids gather there to install themselves temporarily in tiny houses which, seen from a distance, look like huge birds resting for an instant before retaking flight.”
“My venerated master, Lang-Ho, took me one day to visit this privileged country, and while admiring the beauty of the landscape, I could not refrain from actions that showed clearly my surprise.”
“In the gardens that surround the small houses, I see the blooming amaryllis opening its gorgeous chalices from which spring pollen laden pistils, looking like a woman’s long eyelashes that have been made heavy with paint; in the flowerbed bloom roses, delicate or pronounced indoors; while large convolvuli climb the roofs and fall in jagged clusters.”
“The fields extend monotonously in the distance; strips of land were planted with solid banks of chrysanthemums, whose bitter odor we could plainly detect. But above all other odors arose the balsamic fragrance of the resinous trees, vivifying and persistent. Yet, although I looked around carefully, I could perceive no sign of those trees, whose odor filled our lungs.”
“Then my master looked at me and smiled: ‘I thought that you would be surprised,’ said he; ‘that is the common experience of those that visit this country for the first time; but how few among them are wise enough to draw a lesson from what they observed. ’”
“Pointing at a low hill, whose silvery verdure appeared to stand out like a luminous mass against a sky of tenderness blue, he continued: ‘Look! Behind that light screen of bushes is a grove composed of resinous trees. We cannot see them, but their beneficent influence diffuses itself throughout the surrounding country. Do not neglect the lesson this teaches, my son! That little grove of regenerative power happily illustrates a man whose influence radiates upon and extends itself over those that approach him, in pouring out upon them the balm it distils. ’”
“Just as the light and frivolous birches hide rough branches and roots whence proceed health and life, the art of influencing must learn how to surround itself with an aspect of amiability, and in order to reach men’s souls, it must abandon the idea that it must be composed merely of the rougher and more rugged virtues, so much extolled by many philosophers.”
“ Influence must know how to enter the most thoughtless spirit, after the manner in which the balsamic odor penetrates these gewgaw little houses, with their gardens filled with useless flowers.”
“ Most invalids recoil at the mere notion of the boredom of living in the woods; but they come with pleasure to establish themselves among flowers, and yield unconsciously to the restoring influence that radiates around them in the vivifying balsamic atoms.”
“ With the coming winter they will depart. They will take up their old way of life, detaching themselves completely from that which has given them a new birth, so to speak; but they will bear within themselves this principle of new life, which has implanted itself without their will, and which will by slow degrees develop itself in the form of a desire to return.”
“ Be not blind, my son, but receive seriously the lesson given to you by the immensity and simplicity of Nature. As she influences the body, know that she influences souls also; and your earthly sojourn should contribute to the instruction of a strong and supple race, whose power will assert itself throughout the centuries.”
“ That man never really dies who knows how to assume sufficient empire over others to be able to trace lasting marks of his energy and power over the minds of those who, under his influence, bend their steps toward the highest.”
“While he discoursed,” Yoritomo continued, “I glanced around mechanically and saw some of the inhabitants of these little pleasure houses. Some among them occupied themselves with light tasks of horticulture; others strolled about, chatting; the women, whom one could discern among the shadows of the terraces, were preparing tea with a cheerful rattle of cups; no one appeared to give a thought to the neighboring grove, yet everyone felt its beneficent influence.”
“An imperious and passionate desire arose within me to allow the expansion of the forces with energy, always working and always increasing, had put in my brain that their powerful rays might penetrate weak souls and temper them for the bitter struggle of existence by reawakening in them a resolution toward good and hatred of evil, simultaneously with the dauntless courage which is the keynote of all success based on noble ambitions.”
A single word struck me in this last phrase of the Japanese philosopher. He did not say “to create” but to “reawaken” in men’s souls a resolution toward good and hatred of evil. It is only in the simplest romances and the most naïve plays that men are good or bad all in the same way, without any variation.
On the contrary, it is easy to show that each individual is a prey, at a given moment or in special circumstances, to contrary impulses that show in him the presence of a double sensibility.
We will not speak of inclinations that correct themselves or grow weaker after reflection; for example, the sudden and unlooked-for prodigality of a miser who fancies he may gain something by a show of liberality; the voluntary self-indulgence of a man who knows how prejudicial to him may be an appearance of excessive strictness or severity; or the temporary abstemiousness of a gourmand who reserves his appetites for a feast.
Instinct more often takes the place of reason, in imposing on each person acts of contradictory sentiment, according to the time, the place, or circumstances.
Our mind is only too often the field of evolution wherein are elaborated resolutions that are not dictated by an attentive and conscientious will.
Our modern way of speech calls such persons impulsive; following the bend of the idea that haunts them, they may be heroic or cowardly, proud or servile, kind or cruel; it is often impossible for the observer, as well as for themselves, to determine the exact quality, whether good or bad, that plays the chief part in the character of the normal man.
“There are those,” Yoritomo continues, “who, dazzled by the fantastic dreams of a theoretic existence, recoil before the effort necessary to reestablish themselves in actual life and in stripping the rags of illusion from their chimera.”
“All those, again, whom inertia holds ensnared in their vices will feel their hearts moved by an emotion leading toward light and toward the practice of virtues, indispensable to him, who desires to face triumphantly the conflict of existence.”
Note that the Shogun does not speak of “creating” the feeling that gives the impulse toward god; he wishes simply to awaken it, for he knows that it dwells within every heart. If it does not manifest itself, it is because the psychic qualities necessary to its production cannot create successfully the initial impulse, which fortified by the will and rendered more precise by concentration, will become efficacious in forming a habit.
But, in order to possess this gift in a way complete enough to exercise its beneficent influence over others, that it may be possible to suggest favorable thoughts and draw men back from the incline of baleful resolutions, it is indispensable that we should provide ourselves with that beneficent power which must radiate from ourselves as heat rises from a glowing hearth.
What must one do to gain this power? Listen again to the Shogun:
“We possess,” said he, “innumerable forces that lie hidden within ourselves, though it would be easy to lead them, as the waters of a canal are conducted, to make them serve for the conquest of good, spiritual as well as corporeal.”
“The existence of these forces cannot be doubted; they abide in a latent state in some persons and appear intermittently in others. It is the lack of domestication of these forces that causes the frequent and disconcerting plurality of the Ego.”
“What can one think of a man who today commits a villainous crime and who tomorrow, in the same circumstances, will perform an act of devotion?”
“Thinkers have often deduced from this phenomenon the theory that in such a man slumbers different states of the soul, of which one under the influence of a momentary emotion, surges up to the exclusion of all others.”
“These manifestations of the energies that are buried in the most profound depths of being are, unless they are concerned in our moral betterment, almost always regrettable because they are thoughtless, springing up incomplete and nearly always contrary to those designs which deliberate reason would help us to accomplish.”
“It is wise to direct these efforts to a practical end, and not toward such realizations of which the accomplishment would give no virile satisfaction.”Apropos of this, Yoritomo related the following little legend:
“Once upon a time lived a man who was in love with the queen of the clouds. His days were passed in contemplation of the skies; when the sun shone he was sad, but when clouds floated across the heavens like gray tatters he delighted himself with fancying that he could behold his chimera.”
“She was very capricious, and rarely assumed the same aspect twice. But from time to time he recognized her in some flocculent mass, whereupon his heart would swell with joy.”
“At last, he resolved to join her and in order to do so he fancied he must build a monumental stairway that would reach to the sky. So he set himself to work, interrupting himself only to lose himself in the contemplation of his ideal.”
“Years passed; his hair grew gray, his hands and knees trembled, but, faithful at his task, he continued painfully to add one step to another.”
“At last a day came when the tottering builder, struggling in anguish against approaching death attained his object; the stairway reached the clouds, from the midst of which his beloved leaned toward him.”
“He climbed the last step and extended his lips to the longed-for apparition. But he received only the kiss of the rain, which dropping slowly, bore with it the form on which he had doted so many years.”
“Returning to earth, the man wept. He wept for his lost youth, the beautiful years that had gone, and above all for his strength wasted in sterile efforts, when he might have put it to magnificent use.”
May not this little legend be the origin of the story from which our modern writers have drawn the figure of Pierrot enamored of the moon. Are there not many persons who pass their lives in building by slow stages a stairway that leads nowhere, and who do not perceive the fact until the work is finished.
The struggle for life becomes more and more arduous, and the power of our hidden faculties should expand in accordance with ever-growing necessities. It is time, then, to awaken the forces that lie dormant within us.
“But,” someone may object at this appeal, “evil forces as well as good will be aroused, and the combat between them will be so much the stronger because we ourselves must direct it.”
The old Japanese philosopher had foreseen this objection, and he said quietly:
“Why fear to reanimate ALL the possibilities that lie dormant in our natures?”
“Is it not desirable to cultivate all plants indiscriminately?”
“There are those that are poisonous, true, yet even these are indispensable in the practice of medicine.”
“Large doses of certain drugs cause death; but, administered wisely with the hand of a skilful physician, they bring relief and very often a complete cure.”
“The same may be said of many forces that are evil only because they are not disciplined.”
“There is still a danger to avoid; that of failing to discern those who can make us mistake for virtues the evil qualities that are only deceptive copies of virtues.”
“Just as certain poisonous vegetables resemble those that are edible and wholesome, just as certain flowers have the form and color of those that are inoffensive, up to the point where only the initiated can detect the difference, there are failings, which, by their origin, resemble virtues of which they are really the direct opposite.”
“But naturalists are not deceived; the poisonous plant is recognized by them in the midst of a hundred others, and if they gather it, it is only to extract its medicinal properties.”
The philosopher, adept in researches touching suggestion, distinguishes still more rapidly the “enemy” forces that disguise themselves under an appearance of false virtue.
“He will separate pride form vanity, perseverance from obstinacy, gentleness from weakness; and, strong in this knowledge he will know how to gather and to infuse into weak souls the infinitesimal dose necessary to produce the auxiliaries to success.”
I observed that this word “success” occurred frequently in the remarks of the Japanese philosopher. It was because it is the “Open Sesame” of the magic gates that lead to the domain so much desired.
Success! It is the fulfillment of one or of several desires, all-converging toward one end. It is the reason for living for those who wish to struggle for the conquest of Good – that Good which has a way of transforming itself and seems farther away as soon as one has grasped it.
For wise men know the inanity of the word “perfection”; perfection cannot exist, since it cannot be absolute and is always debatable, following the bent of differing tastes or the application of doctrines.
Others, whose convictions modify the ideal, criticize a thing that seems to some persons the highest degree of Good will.
At this point Yoritomo, as he delighted to do, illustrated his words with a fable:
“A man once lived,” said he, “who resolved to climb to the highest summit of a chain of mountains, so that no obstacle should hide from him the view of the universe.
“After countless fatigues, he climbed the peak which from below seemed to him higher than all the others; the ascent was rough, the road arduous and dangerous; but the man, possessed by his idea, felt neither the scorching sun which burned his face, nor the biting north wind on wintry nights.”
“In order to avoid precipices and possible traps along the road, he walked with a bent head and did not raise it until the moment when his feet reached the lofty plateau, the object of his strenuous efforts.”
“Alas! What disillusion was his! A granite wall, which clouds had heretofore hidden from his gaze on looking up from below, rose before him, straight, rigid, impracticable, as it seemed to him.”
“Impracticable! Not entirely so, but perilous and above all mysterious, for the clouds that enveloped it hardly permitted him to discern the road that he must follow amid a thousand dangers.”
“The man postponed the accomplishment of his desire. He descended into the valley again to wait for the dispersion of the clouds, so that he could choose his road by a clearer light.”
“But that was not the real cause of his chagrin. The topmost peak was invisible from below, and he asked himself bitterly whether his great fatigue had not been caused by a mirage, after all.”
“Should he begin another ascent? It was such hard work – it was better to wait! Now that he knew from which side he should climb to reach the summit, there was no need to worry about it. Besides, did a summit really exist? And even if it did, might he not encounter, after a weary climb, still another eminence, which he had not yet been able to discern! ”
“Days passed; the propitious moment did not present itself and at last the man died in the valley, having lived a life interwoven with regrets and aspirations the more cruel because he well knew that he had not the energy sufficient to satisfy them.”
“This often happens to those that assign to themselves nothing short of perfection as the end of their efforts. As soon as they imagine they have attained it, they try sadly to ascertain whether there is not something more left to conquer.”
“Those among them who have become wise compel themselves simply to attain the highest, and soon aacquire a passionate enthusiasm for their task, for their aim is not circumscribed but grand and infinite.”
“One should pity those who believe themselves to have ‘arrived’ quite as much as those who despair of arriving. The former, thinking they have nothing more to combat, soon come to believe that there is nothing more worth conquering.”
“Combat increases our energies, and the desire to live become more determined when one fears that he must die before he has accomplished his task.”
“But,” asked someone, “when should one enjoy the benefits of his continued efforts?”
The answer was ready:
“From the perpetual pursuit of the highest springs a series of realizations, each of which gives us the joy and pride of conquest. Does a trader cease to do business because he has just made a good bargain? While he appreciates the advantages gained in the long-pursued transaction, he will enter upon another into which he will throw himself eagerly, and will even use the gains of the preceding bargain to make sure of negotiating the second.”
“Thus we should use acquired forces, the advantages gained over ourselves in the realization of another ideal, which, once attained will allow us to pursue another of a form more nearly perfect.”
“That man in whom moral strength grows and increases is very near decadence, and that means that he will enter on the road leading to shadows and death.”
“Let us then turn resolutely toward the light; above all, let us increase our psychic forces, for they alone can give us that power that emanates from certain beings whose domination exercises itself beneficially over those that surround them.”
“Just as when, in the heat of the sun, all grains and seeds sleeping in the earths bosom sprout and rise in the form of plants to play their part in the universal fete of Nature, so under the power of influence always augmented and disciplined by noble deeds the hearts of those near us will open to a desire for the best, conducive to the general aim of mankind – Happiness.”
“Persuasion,” Yoritomo taught us, “clothes itself in two very different forms; the one invades the soul like the invisible molecules of a soothing balm poured from a kindly hand and gently infiltrates itself throughout our systems, communicating to us its virtues. The other may be compared to the terrible wind of the African deserts.”
“If, from the first hour one feels its burning touch, he has not known how to avoid it by shutting himself closely within his dwelling, every crevice and opening of which has been sealed, nothing can escape its attacks.”
“The imperceptible sand drifts little by little into all corners of the house, and even reaches all parts of the human body.”
“However well protected we may be, it even penetrates closed lips and eyes, and soon this almost invisible tinge seizes on every man and becomes his constant preoccupation. Evil persuasion is all the more dangerous because it knows how to clothe itself with the most attractive external attributes.”
“That is what we meet in the guise of counselors whose words are always tempting, since they adopt the false appearance of solicitude. With earnest words and sympathetic smiles, these persons who almost always have nothing to do in life, try to spoil the lives of others, without having a suspicion of their unconscious crime.”
“Usually these are the kind of persons that talk in apparent good faith about the freedom to live one’s own life. They are those who seek the agreeable sensation of the moment, without giving a thought to the possible bitterness of tomorrow.”
“They have to learn harsh lessons, for all that; often they are compelled to suffer for days and weeks in order to pay for one day of careless pleasure; but these days are either soon forgotten or their lightness of character is such that they prefer to take the risk of drawing down on themselves serious troubles in the future than to make any effort in the present to avoid them.”
Here Yoritomo, always ready with examples, related the following story:
“I once knew a young man, the son of one of my friends, who was afflicted with a certain lightness of judgment.”
“He was not bad at heart, but his effeminacy and lack of strength of will made him an undesirable companion for such of his young friends whose souls were not sufficiently tempered by the practice of a continual appeal to dominating forces.”
“One day he was calling on one of his friends whose father occupied an important place in the senate, and who sent his son to the house of one of his colleagues to learn the result of a discussion in which he had not been able to take part.”
“Apropos of a very important question on which a favored future or disgrace depended; he wished to know what a night session of the senate had determined.”
“On the way, the son of the senator confided his apprehensions to his frivolous friend. To this young man these weighty matters seemed unimportant and childish, and he dwelt much on the bore it would be to allow this matter to spoil an evening in which both friends had promised themselves much pleasure.”
“His reply filled the senator’s son with consternation; the night session had taken place and the most important affairs had been discussed. His adversaries had attacked the absent senator with great bitterness.”
“But the friend said, ‘since the contretemps is sure to bring trouble and spoil the pleasure we were looking forward to, why risk this trouble. We can tell your father that the session did not take place, and that all is going well! ’”
“The senator’s son resisted; ‘He would not dare lie to his father,’ he said. But his friend became more insinuating: ‘It would not be a serious lie, and besides, one would have time to say that some one had misunderstood – in fact, are we quite sure that there had not been some misunderstanding?’”
“In order to vanquish his friends last hesitations, the young gentleman pretended to recall the whole interview, analyzing its details and inventing others. Meantime, he said they would say that several persons had stopped them and questioned them; was it not to one of these that they had replied?”
“He said so much in so persuasive a way that at last the senator’s son deliberately told his father that the expected session had been postponed until the following day. Under the influence of this evil persuasion he felt not the slightest remorse in telling this falsehood, and passed a delightful evening.”
“But alas! The next day must have been terrible. His father and his partisans could not be found at all in time to foil the scheme of his enemies; his disgrace was decided on, and the order to commit hara-kiri was sent to him.”
“After he was dead, his effects were confiscated and his son dragged out the miserable existence of the poor being whom will and dignity do not console.”
The old philosopher did not tell us whether the friend, the cause of all these disasters, sought to palliate them by coming to the aid of him whom he had ruined by his detestable counsel.
But it is probable that, feeling in this affair as those feel who are conscious of their contemptible conduct, he looked on indifferently at the misfortunes chargeable solely to his own lightness of character. It is, in fact, a common trait with those who are conscious of their own inability to make the least effort to experience a wicked sort of pleasure in observing the failure of others.
Another variety of the agents of bad persuasion is the persons we call pessimists, whom Yoritomo describes thus:
“One should flee those who are created with life which makes one think only of the stupor of death. Their souls are always in the state where one finds the body in the tomb; every effort seems useless to them, or rather, they prefer to make a show of that indifference which makes the gestures necessary to obtain the accomplishments they pretend to despise.”
“Despise them indeed! Do they not feel rather a malicious joy in demoralizing others? They like to consider man as fundamentally bad, and to declare that the slumber of the dead is the superior of all other pleasures.”
“That is true only regarding those who, as we have said, pass through life as if they were already dead. They would be right, perhaps, if one heard only through pleasures of the gross, earthly joys of existence. “
“But, for those that know how to see, the joy of living is in all things, and we can taste it, even in the midst of the greatest afflictions.”
“Can the grief of mourning, cruel though it may be, prevent us from admiring the sunshine at the moment when it hangs the purple of the sunset in the sky before it sinks to sleep behind the quivering birch trees! ”
“Can any grief, whatever it may be, prevent us from feeling a delicate emotion on hearing the sweet, strong voice of a boatman, whose song is lost in the distance when his light craft disappears in the golden mist of the great lakes?”
“The joy of life throbs everywhere about us; it is in everything that surrounds us, and we should gather all our strength to cry out against those that preach pessimistic doctrine, for every life, sad thou it may be, is worth living.”
Do we not hear those that talk about the scourge of our day, neurasthenia – which often is only one of the commonest forms of egoism for those that are attacked by it – refuse not only to believe in the beautiful and the good, but they devote the last sparks of their fast disappearing will to persuading others of the uselessness of everything?
Are they always sincere? Do they not do this in a sort of spite against those who are more expert in the art of living and who excite their envy by enjoying the blessings of life that their own moral weakness does not allow them to appreciate?
How much happier are those of who Yoritomo says:
“They accept joyfully the evil of living and show it in their fervent adoration of everything that is beautiful and good.”
‘These,’ he added, ‘are the true priests of favorable persuasion. They know by the authority of their own conviction, how to give courage again to the weak and faith to the incredulous. ’”
“By the virtue of persuasion, they banish from the invalid the pains, which almost always hasten the apparition of imaginary sufferings. They know the right words to say to strengthen weak will and to give to those who suffer pain in reality the courage to support the ills which sympathy and solicitude made lighter. They are, in short, true healers.”
“The persuasion toward health is the best of panaceas, for no one denies the influence of moral qualities on physical health. I once knew a man, who under the influence of one fixed idea, was about to die. He imagined that while drinking the water of a stagnant pool he had swallowed a serpent, minute at first, but which growing larger inside of his body caused internal ravages of which he felt himself likely soon to die.”
“His friends had told me of his singular case, telling me how anxious they were at seeing this so-called invalid wasting away day by day. I was curious to visit him; I found a real invalid, looking very ill with features sunken and hardly able to drag himself about. Pressing his chest, he told us that the serpent was devouring him. His friends laughed at him and seemed to think that I would join them in their mirth, but I judged the moral evil too serious to try to soother him by trying to reason with him.”
“Persuasion alone, based on a real or an imaginary proof, with the aid of suggestion could save the man. Instead of laughing with the others, I pretended to believe that he was really ill and asked him to tell me his story, to which I listened with the deepest attention. To his great astonishment, I sympathized with him in his trouble and spoke of one of my friends, a famous healer, who would be happy to interest himself in the invalid and to try to save him.”
“Two days later I returned, actually bringing with me a physician whom I had told of this strange mania, and who had promised me his assistance. For it was indispensable to have near me someone who could speak authoritatively in order to impress the mind of the invalid. He examined the patient carefully, prescribed certain medicines, and withdrew without giving any words of positive hope.”
“Then began my part, that of a psychologist. I pretended that I would tell him the absolute truth, however brutal it might seem. The doctor had discovered beyond all doubt the presence of the serpent; he had tried certain medication. Would it succeed? He dared not affirm it.”
“Several days passed with alternating fear and hope, which indications I noted carefully. Finally, one day the physician declared that he was about to make a decisive test of which he had great hope of a favorable result.”
“I had known so well how to be persuasive and had understood so thoroughly how to surround the patient with the right occult influences that he no longer rejected the idea of a possible cure; and when, after taking certain medicines that induced him to vomit freely, we showed him the serpent which he believed he had thrown up; our invalid found himself suddenly cured.”
“After this, if he happened to feel again pain or discomfort of any kind, he attributed it to the ravages caused by the serpent, and, as the cause existed no more the evil soon disappeared.”
“This case shows that one of the conditions of succeeding in the art of persuading is not to batter rudely at convictions that one wishes to uproot. This hardly requires an explanation; in order to persuade some one it is necessary to merit his sympathy; now, one never gains the sympathy of those whose opinions he does not share.”
“Hence, in order to persuade successfully, one must banish suspicion and know how to listen. One must not forget the profound egotism that characterizes all imaginary invalids; they are so full of themselves that their ills seem to them to acquire high importance.”
“They cannot admit that the whole world is not interested in their aches and pains, and the importance they themselves attach to themselves is a subject of development for their malady. For it is incontestable that all moral emotion has an immediate repercussion on the physical state. To be able to persuade a patient that he is cured is, in most cases, to free him from his malady; it is always infinitely attenuated, since it is to spare him moral uneasiness, too fruitful mother of bodily ills.”
But Yoritomo did not stop here with instructing us in the benefits of persuasion; he extended his remarks to the unfortunates who are assailed by the doubt even of happiness, and he encouraged them with this parable:
“A young lord was passing one day along the highroad when his palanquin struck so roughly that it was broken to pieces, he looked at the ruins a moment, then he ordered his bearers to go in search of a new one and sat down by the roadside to wait for them to bring it.”
A poor man passing by stopped and talked with him about the accident. ‘And what shall you do with these pieces?’ he inquired.”
“Why, nothing,” the rich man replied.”I shall leave them where they are.”
“Then will you allow me to take them?”
“Yes, since I don’t want them.”
“The beggar then set himself to work; he readjusted the boards, washed the soiled spots on the hangings in the nearest brook, and did so much and so well that toward evening the palanquin, although a little deteriorated, it is true, was solid and fit to use again.”
“Just then the bearers returned. They had not been able to find anything a palanquin so light and frail that, as soon as they tried it, they saw that it would not do.”
“There the beggar intervened and offered ‘his’ palanquin. The young lord was glad to pay a large indemnity to have the use for several hours of a thing, which in reality belonged to him.”
“And that,” adds the old philosopher, “is the experience of many persons who will not understand that a destroyed happiness may prove a kind of blessing, if one knows how to gather up the pieces.”
“Instead of grieving over them and abandoning them by the wayside in order to wait for what may turn up, is it not better to do as the beggar did and to seek in the mishap a security which we should find it difficult to be sure of in the coordination of new events?”
“It is on such occasions as this that the power of influence comes into play. In order to persuade men that it is easier for them to work at the construction (or reconstruction) of the happiness that is near them, psychic power is more necessary than it is in drawing them into hypothetic adventures.”
“Few men are not attracted by the magic of ‘beginning over again,’ and how many others count on luck, which they almost deify! ”
“When can they convince themselves that, for those who know the power of influence, which develops a steady will and a strong thought, luck is born chiefly of circumstances created by ourselves?Almost always are the architects of our own fortunes; it is in working at them without respite that we may model them if not wholly according to our wish, at least in a way somewhat approaching it.”
“It is by believing steadfastly that we shall attain the highest power, that we shall acquire the qualities that make a man almost more than man, since they allow him to govern and subdue those by whom he is surrounded.”
Might we not say that here Yoritomo presented the “superman” of Nietzsche, and do we not find in all those theories a commentary on the modern phrase of power of mind over matter?
In what manner does this evolution produce itself and above all by what means can one obtain these quasi-miracles? How does one make this effort to attain the desired end, and what qualities, occult or material are necessary to develop to attain this magnificent ambition to conquer the minds of men?
Listen to what the Shogun tells us in the following chapters.
THE INFLUENCE OF THE EYES
Few people escape the influence of the human eye. If its look is imperious, it subjugates; if it is tender, it moves; if it is sad it penetrates the heart with melancholy.
But this influence cannot be real and strong unless it is incited by the thought behind it, which maintains and fixes that look, in communicating to it the expression, terrible or favorable, persuasive or defiant, which alone can maintain the firmness and the perseverance of the active forces of our brain.
“Some persons,” said Yoritomo, “possess naturally a fascinating eye; usually they are those who can maintain a steady gaze for a long time without blinking.
“But it is not sufficient to be able to throw a glance the persistence of which sometimes causes a passing discomfort, which almost always tends toward the subjection of spirits of the weaker sort.
“This look should be the projection of a thought in which the fixed form is definite enough so that its penetrative influence shall become efficacious.”
“But,” someone will say, “it is not always necessary to think, since several animals possess this power of fascination, like the snake, which holds a bird motionless under the power of its gaze, so that it never dreams of trying to use its wings to escape from its enemy.”
“But if conscientious thought does not exist in the animal, it is nevertheless active in responding to instinct.”
“There is a blind force in the brain of the serpent, and which turns it from taking possession of its prey, and this force, mastered by a powerful instinct determines a compulsion, which in the weaker creature is sufficient to paralyze all inclination to resist.”
But the serpent does not monopolize this privilege of fascination, if one may believe certain old French chronicles.
In the old book published by Rousseau in the seventeenth century, it is related that a toad, shut up in a vase, could not get out and found it difficult to endure the fascination of the human eye; at first, in evident uneasiness, it tried to escape; then, when convinced that that was impossible, it would return to its former position and stare at the person in its turn, and ended by dying of the effect of this peculiar force.
Is it necessary to lend strength to this story by adding that one day a toad, stronger or more irritable than the others, riveted its eyes so long upon a mans eyes that he actually felt the influence of the creature and swooned under the implacable fixity of its gaze?
I do not believe that such experiences have been officially established, but it is nonetheless interesting to conclude that if under the sway of an instinctive thought, the eye of an animal can acquire a rare power. The eye of man, when he is animated by an active reasonable thought, may be an important agent of influence of suggestion.
“In order to convince an adversary,” said the Japanese philosopher, “one must look him straight in the eyes. But it would be very stupid and unskillful to employ this method without discretion.
Some would see in it only insolence, and their irritation would prevent them from feeling the full influence of the gaze; others would feel a certain uneasiness which would cause them to turn the eyes away before having submitted entirely to the gazer’s influence, and might prevent them from renewing an interview with a person that had impressed them so unpleasantly.
The best way to begin the use of the eye in influencing is to talk of subjects that will not arouse suspicion in the interlocutor.
One should present himself in an easy and quiet manner listen without showing any signs of impatience of whatever objections the person may make; some of these may not be lacking in accuracy, and it would be unwise to combat them.
It is unnecessary to add that the least hastiness, which would displace the point of concentration of the thought, would be injurious and might work serious harm to the success that we seek.
Too great excess of modesty should be avoided, for the transmission of thought – and consequently of influence
– is worked at our cost. Timidity is always an obstacle to the influence of the eye, which should, at the very first interchange of glances look straight and frankly into the eyes of the interlocutor, at the top of the bridge of the nose.
The first conflict once over, one should turn away his eyes carelessly; especially he should avoid the eyes of his opponent (as we will call him) in the first minutes of conversation, before your own have gained any hold on him; one should in some way fix his gaze without allowing his eyes to gain a hold over your own.
In short, he who wishes to influence another by his look, must take the greatest care not to let him suspect his design, which would immediately put him on the defensive and render all your efforts vain.
“I once knew a young man named Yon-Li,” added Yoritomo, “who went to call on a Daimio to conclude a transaction that was injurious to his own interests.”
Besides, the friend had promised a round sum to Yon-Li if he should succeed in influencing this important person to the point of accepting this solution.
For a long time the young man had practiced exercises in the development of psychic influence and believed that he had arrived at the point when one is sure of himself.
He entered and immediately threw on the Daimio a glance, which the other thought rather singular; he tried to surmise the cause of a look, which became almost aggressive in its expression of determination to dominate him.
He was a man of strong will, who had for a long time exercised his powers of penetration.
He had no great difficulty in discovering the motive that actuated the young Yon-Li, and he conceived the idea of fighting him with his own weapons.
Taking care to avoid looking into the pupils of his visitor’s eyes, he fixed him in the way which we have described, concentrating his gaze at the top of the bridge of the nose and strongly centering his thought on the idea of domination.
The young amateur was not prepared to meet an attack more powerful than his own; his bold assurance faltered a little; under the influence of that penetrating look he blinked, lowered his eyelids, and gently turned away.
He was vanquished and it was with hesitation that he made his request. It was not entertained or even listened to, and he had besides the embarrassment of confessing, despite himself, the indelicate step which he had been ready to undertake.”
“The influence of the eye is undeniable; it is occult power set in vibration by the force of the thought; it is the result of the action of the forces that surround us, combined with our own vital force.”
“One should not use these forces by chance. It is well to use them, especially, as arms, offensive or defensive, in the great battle won by wisdom and knowledge of human nature.”
But just as when he instructed us in the acquiring of energy, as well as when he taught us how to overcome timidity, Yoritomo did not content himself with uttering precepts; he told us the methods whereby we might acquire the precious gifts that he extolled.
“In order to attain that authority of the eye which is one of the first conditions in the study of acquiring mental dominance,” said Yoritomo, “certain exercises are necessary”: “For example, it is well to lay a stick of bamboo across a sheet of vellum, and then sear oneself at a few steps’ distance and stare fixedly at the bamboo without allowing the eye to wander to the sheet of vellum. One must use all his strength of will to avoid blinking.”
“This exercise should begin with counting up to twenty, then to thirty, increasing the enumeration up to two hundred, which is enough. When one can perform this first exercise easily, it will be time to pass to another, a little more complicated.”
“Having made a hole in the sheet of vellum – taking great care to pierce it in such a way as to have the edges of the opening neat and clean-cut, experimenter now rivets his fixed gaze on this aperture one, two, three minutes, longer if possible.”
“It is well also to place oneself in front of a bright, smooth surface, preferably polished tin – lacking one silver or gold – and to seek in it the reflection of his own eyes.”
“Plunge your gaze into the inmost depths of your eyes; from the beginning this will be a good exercise in compelling the gaze of others the yield to your own.”
“In this situation, turn the head from the right to left, then from left to right, without losing sight one’s glance firmness and the desired power. One should avoid winking the eyes and lowering the eyelids, and should practice meeting firmly the gaze of others.”
But all these exercises would be in vain, if during the time of this contemplation, you do not know how to concentrate your mind on a single subject. How much influence could you exercise over others if you do not know first how to master yourself?
Singleness of thought is indispensable during the development of the use of the eye; if it seems too difficult to keep it fixed on a single point, it would be well to avail oneself of certain means of suggestion, like the following:
“First, count up to ten with the simple idea of doing it slowly, and to allow the same space of time to elapse between the uttering of each number.”
“Secondly, run through the fingers a chaplet of about sixty beads, counting them in a low tone of voice, without losing sight of the point one has fixed on.”
“One may count at first up to five or ten; then increase the count, taking care to begin all over again if one finds one’s attention has wandered or that while pronouncing the numbers it has been diverted, of only for an instant, from the single thought that is the object of his purpose.”
But this is not all; as soon as one has acquired the desired qualities in the cultivation of the power of the eye, he should begin to experiment with them, and regarding this here is what our philosopher counsels us:
“When you have mastered the use of the eye, and have learned how to concentrate the mind, try the ascendancy of your visual power on some person in the midst of a crowd.”
“First, choose some one whose face indicates a character weaker than your own, and fix your gaze in the back of his neck, with a single thought, which shall invade his mind, haunting him with a desire to turn around.”
“If your influence is already sufficiently formed, at the end of a certain time you will see him begin to fidget, then to move his head slightly, as if to shake off an importunate thought; finally, he will move his hand to the spot on which your gaze has been fixed, then, in spite of himself he will turn around.”
“This experiment may be made on all sorts of subjects, and it will always succeed on condition that you know how to envelope your subject in and intense mental current the action of which will combine itself with the power of your gaze.”
“You can imagine, then, to what extent this faculty may be useful in the ordinary circumstances of life; it is the secret of those we call fascinating persons, whom no one can resist and who know how to obtain anything they desire by merely saying what pleasure it would give them to possess the desired object; for they know well that in concentrating that mind strongly on that for which they ask, the mind of their interlocutor, yielding to mental sway, abandons itself easily, especially if the domination of the eye increases this conviction by creating in him a psychic state which compels him to submit to its power.”
These precepts were those of that other tamer of spirits, Mahomet, who said:
“The effect of the human eye is indubitable. If there is anything in the world that can move more rapidly than fate, it is the glance of the eyes.”
From this saying strong superstitions have arisen, against which the Shogun puts on our guard:
“One of the reasons,” says he, “ that militate in favor of the cultivation of the influential use of the eye is the necessity of getting the better of a certain kind of persons who pretend to have inherited occult power from magicians.
A man gifted with a strong will has nothing to fear from these shameless liars; but a sensitive and impulsive person, who does not know how to assert himself and dominate others, becomes and easy prey; and the suggestions of these wretches will soon lead him to dissipate his fortune in answering their stupid requests.”
“Besides,” Yoritomo added, “those that would wish to use their occult influence to compel others to commit a wrong action would be soon punished by the loss of this influence, which develops itself gently only when actuated by beneficent thought; while they retract and end by becoming annihilated when the uppermost thought is of the kind of which may be said: ”
“Evil thoughts about others are rods with which we ourselves shall one day be beaten.”
THROUGH CLEARNESS OF SPEECH
The word is the most direct manifestation of the thought; hence it is one of the most important agents of Influence when it clothes itself with precision and clearness, indispensable in cooperating in creating conviction in the minds of ones hearers.
Were not the burning words of Peter the Hermit the sole cause of the rising of arms for the conquest of the tomb of Jesus? And was it not especially because that monk believed himself firmly to be moved by a divine will that he knew how to make his belief shared by thousands of men of all classes, poor or rich, who under the influence of his words all possessed only a single soul, impregnated with sentiments of heroic piety which urged them to dye the sands of Palestine with their blood?
What arguments had this monk found? Only three words, but powerful words, when one considers the mentality and the peculiar religiosity of that epoch: “God wishes it! ”
“God wish it!” These words were the first to declare to the ignorant masses Peter’s all-powerful influence. In the eyes of the vulgar, this man who transmitted to them thus the will of the Most High assumed in their eyes the proportions of a divine messenger, a sort of prophet in communication with the Master of Masters, who designed to dictate to him His orders.
For others, it was to resume debates by an argument without reply; it was to excuse fatigues and privations and an unknown death under a foreign sky. God wished it! How vain were all other speeches after these three words, which bowed all heads under the powerful breath of divine domination, as wheat bends under the tempestuous winds!
Yoritomo speaks as a true sage, then, when he says:
“Leaders of souls should not forget this one thing: Too great wealth of words is hostile to conviction.”
And, alluding to a Japanese proverb, which is very similar to one of our own well-known proverbs, he added:
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