A greater mind can influence a smaller mind. This is mesmerism or hypnotism. This is not at all a new science. It has existed from beginning less time. It was only Mesmer and Braid who popularized this science in the West. Sages knew this science in days long gone by. Demosthenes and Socrates, Visvamitra and Patanjali Maharshi used hypnotism and mesmerism in olden days. It was James Braid, the Manchester surgeon, who gave this name hypnotism to this science and who first founded this science in the West. The term hypnotism has a Greek origin which means sleep. Mesmer (1784-1815) was a philosopher, physician and astrologer. He brought in the theory of animal magnetism. He believed that man had a wonderful magnetic power by which he could heal and influence other people. He made use of this power in the treatment of various diseases. The system of mesmerism is known after his name.
All orators possess the power of hypnotism. Consciously or unconsciously they subdue the minds of hearers. The hearers are swayed by the powerful speech of orators. They are charmed, as it were, for the time being. All the religious preachers and prophets of the world possessed this power to a remarkable degree. Suggestion is the master-key to hypnotism. The hypnotist suggests and the operator acts implicitly. The lesser mind implicitly obeys the higher mind.
Suggestion is an idea communicated by the operator to the subject. Suggestion is a science. One should be very clever in putting the suggestion in a skillful manner. We live in the world of suggestion and under the magic spell and influence of hypnotism. Hypnotism is a mighty power in the world. We are all hypnotized by the spell of Maya (Delusion). We will have to dehypnotize ourselves to obtain the knowledge of Self. Spiritual and Religious teachings gives powerful suggestions to dehypnotize ourselves. Hypnotism is a state of mind in which suggestions, verbal and visual, are received as true whether they are true or not. There is an irresistible desire to carry out the suggestions. The power of will and the power of suggestion are very closely linked together.
The operator develops his power of hypnosis through the practice of crystal-gazing and other methods of concentration. Pranayama also helps a lot in the development of this power. Brahmacharya also is very essential. A man of loose character cannot become a powerful hypnotist. A man can be hypnotized by gazing or suggestion or passes. The operator makes some passes in front of the subject and the subject passes into a hypnotic state. The passes in the reverse direction will bring back the subject to normal consciousness. Sometimes, if the hypnotist is a powerful man, he can hypnotize several persons in a group or bunch. That man who resists the suggestions of the hypnotist cannot be hypnotized so easily. If one believes in the hypnotizer and thinks he can be hypnotized, he can rapidly come under his spell and operation.
There is also another variety of hypnotism called the stage hypnotism in which the hypnotist hypnotizes the whole audience and shows several tricks. He puts a lady in a small tight box in standing posture, ties her hands and closes the box and then cuts the box with a saw. Afterwards he opens the broken box and the lady comes out without any injury. A famous Fakir ascended the platform in England with a red rope in his hand, threw it in the air and climbed up through the rope and then vanished in the air. This is stage-hypnotism. This is the famous rope-trick of the Fakir. There was no impression in the plate of a camera. This is a trick only after all. A hypnotist hypnotizes a boy and places his head and feet over two chairs. He then places a large weight over his body. The body does not bend. He asks the audience to clasp the fingers of both hands and makes a strong current of electricity to pass. They all actually feel the shock of the current. He first starts the current in his own hands and thinks strongly that the current should pass to the hands of others.
Hypnotism is very beneficial in the correction of bad habits of boys and in the treatment of hysteria and other nervous diseases. The opium habit and the drinking habit are also removed. The hypnotist should not misuse the power in wrong channels. He will get a hopeless downfall. Wherever there is power, there is side by side a chance for misuse. There are temptations also. One has to be very careful.
A hypnotist looks at the second-hand of a watch and the second-hand stops immediately. He asks a subject to look at the second-hand of a watch and stops his thinking. His eyes become listless. A hypnotist makes the body of a hypnotized subject to levitate and move in the air through a big iron ring. The hypnotized person is blindfolded. He is able to walk over a rope that is distributed on the ground in quite a zigzag manner. He is able to read the contents of a sealed letter and give proper answers to questions. Here the unconscious mind of the subject operates. He can see through an opaque wall. Marvelous are the mysteries of the science of hypnotism! Thanks to Mr. James Braid of happy memory!
Mind – Its Mysteries and Control by Sri Swami Sivananda