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The Magic of Believing
By Claude M. Bristol
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 1948 Claude M. Bristol
All rights reserved.
How I Came to Tap the Power of Belief
Is there a something, a force, a factor, a power, a science—call it what you will—which a few people understand and use to overcome their difficulties and achieve outstanding success? I firmly believe that there is, and it is my purpose in this, first complete exposition of the subject, to attempt to explain it so that you may use it if you desire.
About fifteen years ago the financial editor of a great Los Angeles newspaper, after attending lectures I had given to financial men in that city and after having read my brochure, T.N.T.—It Rocks the Earth, wrote:
"You have caught from the ether something that has a mystical quality—a something that explains the magic of coincidence, the mystery of what makes men lucky."
I realized that I had run across something that was workable, but I didn't consider it then, neither do I now, as anything mystical, except in the sense that it is unknown to the majority of people. It is something that has always been known to a fortunate few down the centuries, but, for some unknown reason, is little understood by the average person.
When I started out years ago to teach this science through the medium of lectures and my brochure, I wasn't certain that it could be or would be grasped by the ordinary individual; but now that I have seen those who have used it double and triple their incomes, build their own successful businesses, acquire homes in the country, and create sizable fortunes, I am convinced that any intelligent person who is sincere with himself can reach any heights he desires. I had no intention of writing a second book, although many urged me to do so, until a woman in the book business, who had sold many copies of my first little book, literally "read the riot act" to me, declaring:
"You have a duty to perform to the ex-service men and women, and all others who seek places for themselves in a postwar world, to give them in easily understood form not only what you contained in your T.N.T.—It Rocks the Earth but the new material that you have given in your lectures. Everyone of ambition wants to get ahead and you have amply demonstrated you have something that will help anyone, and it's up to you to pass it along."
It took time to sell myself on the idea, but having served as a soldier in World War I, mostly in France and Germany, and having been an active official for many years in ex-service men's organizations as well as a member of a state commission to aid in the rehabilitation of ex-service men and women, I realized that it would be no easy task for many individuals to make outstanding places for themselves in a practical world from which they had long been separated. It is with them in mind, as well as all ambitious men and women, and with a sincere desire to help that I write this more full and detailed exposition of the power of belief.
I am cognizant of the fact that there are powerful forces at work in this country that would dominate us, substituting a kind of regimentation for the competitive system which has made America great among nations. They would attempt to destroy individual thinking and initiative, cherished ever since our Pilgrim Fathers established this country in defiance of Old World tyranny. I believe that we must continue to retain the wealth of spirit of our forefathers, for if we don't we shall find ourselves dominated in everything we do by a mighty few and shall become serfs in fact if not in name. Thus this work is written also to help develop individual thinking and doing.
Since I am aware that this book may fall into the hands of some who may call me a "crackpot" or a "screwball," let me say that I am past the half-century mark and have had many years of hard practical business experience, as well as a goodly number of years as a newspaper man. I started as a police reporter, and police reporters are trained to get facts and "accept nothing for granted." For a two-year period I was church editor of a large metropolitan newspaper, during which I came in close contact with clergymen and leaders of all sects and denominations, mind-healers, divine healers, Spiritualists, Christian Scientists, New Thought-ers, Unity leaders, sun and idol worshipers, and, yes, even a few infidels and pagans.
Gypsy Smith, well-known English evangelist, was making an early tour of America at that time, and as I used to sit night after night on his platform, watching people stumble down the aisles, some sobbing, others shouting hysterically, I wondered.
Again I wondered as I accompanied the police in answering a riot call when some Holy Rollers in a moment of hysteria knocked over a stove and set fire to their meeting hall. When I attended my first and only meeting of Shakers, I wondered as I did while attending various spiritualistic meetings. I wondered as I heard the testimonials at the Wednesday night meetings of Christian Scientists. I wondered when I witnessed a group of people being immersed in the icy waters of a mountain stream and coming up shouting "Hallelujah," even though their teeth were chattering. I wondered at the ceremonial dances of the Indians and their rain-calling programs. Billy Sunday also caused me to wonder, as in later years did Aimee Semple McPherson.
In France during the first war I marveled at the simple faith of the peasants and the powers of their village padres. The stories of the so-called miracles at Lourdes, as well as of somewhat similar miracles at other shrines, also held great interest. When I saw elderly men and women in a famous old Roman church climb literally on their knees up a long flight of stairs to gaze upon a holy urn—a climb that is no simple task for an athletically trained young person—I wondered again.
Business brought me into contact with the Mormons, and when I heard of the belief in the story of Joseph Smith and the revelations on the plates of gold, I was again given to wonderment. The Dukhobors of western Canada, who would doff their clothes when provoked, likewise made me wonder. While in Hawaii I heard much about the powers of the kahunas who, it was claimed, could, by praying, cause people to die or live. The great powers attributed to these kahunas profoundly impressed me.
In my early days as a newspaper man I saw a famous medium try to make the "spirits" respond before a crowded courtroom of antagonistic scoffers. The judge had promised the medium he would be freed if he could get the "spirits" to speak in the courtroom. They failed to materialize and I wondered why, because the medium's followers had testified to remarkable prior séances.
Many years later I was commissioned to write a series of articles on what is known in police parlance as the "fortune-telling racket." I visited everything from gypsy phrenologists to crystal-ball gazers, from astrologers to spiritualistic mediums. I have heard what purported to be the voices of old Indian "guides" tell me the past, the present, and the future, and I heard from relatives I never knew existed.
Several times I have been in a hospital room in which people around me died, while others with seemingly worse ailments were up and apparently fully recovered within a short time. I have known of partially paralyzed people who got over their condition in a matter of days. I have known people who claim to have cured their rheumatism or arthritis by wearing a copper band around their wrists—others by mental healing. From relatives and close friends I have heard stories of how warts on hands have suddenly disappeared. I am familiar with the stories of those who permit rattlesnakes to bite them and still live, and with hundreds of other tales of mysterious healings and happenings.
I have, moreover, made myself familiar with the lives of great men and women of history; I have met and interviewed many outstanding men and women in all lines of human endeavor; and I have often wondered just what it was that took them to the top. I have seen coaches take apparently inferior baseball and football teams and infuse them with "something" that caused them to win. In the depression days I saw sales organizations, badly whipped, do an abrupt about-face and bring in more business than ever before.
Apparently I was born with a huge bump of curiosity, for I have always had an insatiable yearning to seek explanations and answers. This yearning has taken me to many strange places, brought to light many peculiar cases, and has caused me to read every book I could get my hands on dealing with religions, cults, and both physical and mental sciences. I have read literally thousands of books on modern psychology, metaphysics, ancient magic, Voodooism, Yogism, Theosophy, Christian Science, Unity, Truth, New Thought, Couéism, and many others dealing with what I call "Mind Stuff ," as well as the philosophies and teachings of the great masters of the past.
Many were nonsensical, others strange, and many very profound. Gradually I discovered that there is a golden thread that runs through all the teachings and makes them work for those who sincerely accept and apply them, and that thread can be named in a single word—belief. It is this same element or factor, belief, which causes people to be cured through mental healing, enables others to climb high the ladder of success, and gets phenomenal results for all who accept it. Why belief is a miracle worker is something that cannot be satisfactorily explained; but have no doubt about it, there's genuine magic in believing. "The magic of believing" became a phrase around which my thoughts steadily revolved.
When T.N.T.—It Rocks the Earth was first published, I imagined that it would be easily understood, as I had written it simply; but as the years went by I found that some readers protested that it was too much in digest form, while others said they couldn't understand it. I had assumed that most people knew something about the power of thought. I was mistaken, and I realized that those who had an understanding of the subject were comparatively few. Later in my many years of lecturing before clubs, business and sales organizations, I discovered that while most people were vitally interested in the subject, it had to be fully explained. Finally, I undertook to write this book in words that anyone who reads can understand and with the hope that it will help many to reach their goal in life.
The science of thought is as old as man himself. The wise men of all ages have known about it and used it. The only thing the writer has done is to put the subject in modern language and bring to the reader's attention what a few of the outstanding minds of today are doing to substantiate the great truths that have come down through the centuries.
Fortunately for the world, people generally are coming to the realization that there is "something to this mind-stuff after all," and the writer believes that there are millions of people who would like to get a better understanding of it and prove that it does work.
Therefore, I start with relating a few experiences of my own life, with the hope that by hearing them, you will gain a better understanding of the entire science. Early in 1918 I landed in France as a "casual" soldier, unattached to a regular company. As a result it was several weeks before my service record, necessary for my pay, caught up with me. During that period I was without money to buy gum, candy, cigarettes, and the like, as the few dollars I had before sailing had been spent at the transport's canteen to relieve the monotony of the ship's menu. Every time I saw a man light a cigarette or chew a stick of gum, the thought came that I was without money to spend on myself. Certainly, I was eating and the army clothed me and provided me with a place on the ground to sleep, but I grew bitter because I had no spending money and no way of getting any. One night en route to the forward area on a crowded troop train when sleep was out of the question, I made up my mind that when I returned to civilian life, "I would have a lot of money." The whole pattern of my life was altered at that moment.
True, I had been something of a reader in my youth; the Bible had been a "must" in our family. As a boy I was interested in wireless telegraphy, X-ray, high-frequency apparatus, and similar manifestations of electricity, and I had read every book on these subjects I could find. But while I was familiar with such terms as radiations, frequencies, vibrations, oscillations, magnetic influences, etc., in those days they meant nothing to me outside the strictly electrical field. Perhaps the first inkling of a connection between the mind and electrical or vibratory influences came when upon my completing law school an instructor had given me an old book, Thomson Jay Hudson's Law of Psychic Phenomena. I read it but only superficially. I either did not understand it or my mind was not ready to receive its profound truths, be cause, when on that fateful night in the spring of 1918 I told myself that some day I would have a lot of money, I did not realize that I was laying the groundwork for a series of causes which would unleash forces that would bring accomplishment. As a matter of fact, the idea that I could with my thinking and believing develop a fortune never entered my mind.
On my army classification card I was listed as a newspaper man. I had been attending an army training school to qualify for a commission, but the whole training-school course was discontinued just as we finished the course; thus most of us landed in France as enlisted men. However, I considered myself a qualified newspaper man and felt that there was a better place for me in the A.E.F.; yet, like many others, I found myself pushing wheelbarrows and lugging heavy shells and other ammunition. Then one night at an ammunition depot near Toul, things began to happen. I was ordered to appear before the commanding officer who asked me whom I knew at First Army Headquarters. I didn't know a soul there and didn't even know where it was located, and I told him. Then he showed me orders directing me to report immediately to that headquarters. A car and driver were provided and the next morning found me at First Army Headquarters in charge of a daily progress bulletin. There I was answerable only to a colonel.
During the months that followed I frequently thought about the commission to which I was entitled. Then the links began to form into a chain. One day entirely out of a clear sky came orders transferring me to the Stars and Stripes, the army newspaper; I had long had an ambition to be on its staff but had done nothing about it. The next day as I was preparing to leave for Paris I was called before the colonel who showed me a telegram signed by the Adjutant General's office at GHQ, asking if I was available for a commission. The colonel asked whether I would rather have a commission than report to the army newspaper. Foreseeing that the war would soon end and I would be happier among other newspaper men, I said I would prefer the transfer to the Stars and Stripes. I never learned who was responsible for the telegram, but obviously something was working in my behalf.
Following the armistice, my desire to get out of the army became insistent. I wanted to begin building that fortune, but the Stars and Stripes did not suspend publication until the summer of 1919, and it was August before I got home. However, the forces I had unconsciously set in motion were already setting the stage for me and that fortune. It was about nine-thirty the next morning after my arrival home that I received a telephone call from the president of a well-known club in which I had been active. He told me to call a certain man prominent in the investment banking business who had read a newspaper item about my return and had expressed a wish to see me before I resumed newspaper work. I called the man and two days later embarked upon a long career as an investment banker, which later led me to the vice-presidency of a well-known Pacific Coast firm.
While my salary was small at the start, I realized that I was in a business where there were many opportunities to make money. Just how I was to make it was then not revealed, but I "just knew" that I would have that fortune I had in mind. In less than ten years not only did I have it, and it was sizable, but I was a substantial stockholder in the company and had several outside profitable interests. During those years I had constantly before me a mental picture of wealth.
Many people in moments of abstraction or while talking on the telephone engage in what is known as "doodling"—drawing or sketching odd designs and patterns upon paper. My "doodling" was in the form of dollar signs like these "$$$$$—$$$$—$$$—$$" on every paper that came across my desk. The cardboard covers of all the files placed before me daily were scrawled with these markings; so were the covers of telephone directories, scratch-pads, and even the face of important correspondence. I want my readers to have this story, because it suggests the mechanics to be used in applying this magic which will be explained in detail later.
During the past years, I have found that by far the greatest problems bothering most people are financial ones, and in the postwar days with their intense competition, millions are facing the same kind of problems. However, it matters little to what ends this science is used, it will be effective in achieving the object of your desire—and in this connection let me tell another experience.
Excerpted from The Magic of Believing by Claude M. Bristol. Copyright © 1948 Claude M. Bristol. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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