Love Can Open Prison Doors of Steel
Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force, that thoughts rule the world.
All men accept the idea that love and thought are synonymous, that the former is the first expression of the latter, and that the combination of the intellectual and emotional form a unity inseparable one from the other, and that this unity, acting upon creative principle, constitutes the strongest creative force in the world.
All men admit that thought force is capable of performing miracles, of constantly changing the face of things, of brushing aside the impossible, and out of the impossible of yesterday establishing the commonplace of today. Men will agree to the truism that the possible accomplishments of thought are limitless; but when you say that thought can open the doors of a modern prison, unsupported by collusion or political influence, men will shake their heads, thus indicating their Missourian disposition to be shown.
On an evening in 1924 I sat in a cell alone on the receiving gallery of the prison mentioned throughout this book. My outlook was as black and hopeless as any man’s outlook could possibly be. That morning I had been up before the board of paroles, and the chairman of the board, who had done the talking, had been in no mood to spare my sensibilities.
Only a very short while before I faced the same body of men, and I had made them the usual run of glowing promises. “Yes, gentlemen,” I had said on that occasion, “when I go out this time I intend to make good. I’ve learned my lesson. This jolt has taught me that crime doesn’t pay. I’m done with it forever. Me for the straight and narrow from now on.” “Well, this has been your second offense in this prison,” the chairman had replied. “But your prison record has been fairly good. We’ve decided to give you another chance. But if you fail to make good, if you come back again you may expect no consideration at our hands.”
And I had gone out a few mornings later. The man who signed my parole and who had worked for my release because of his friendship for my father, received me in a spirit of paternal trust and confidence. And that very night I took up again where I had left off when the prison door had cut short my criminal career. I had had no intention of trying to make good. I had merely repeated my old meaningless promises in exchange for official favors. So when I sat before the parole board on this morning I wore the brand of an habitual criminal. The chairman said to me:
“You’ve betrayed the trust we reposed in you. You were told what to expect if you did that. Now what have you to say for yourself?”
I had nothing to say, of course. What could I say? I had reached to the end of my purring promises. I was at the end of my old reliable resources. I could say nothing or do nothing but face the music and pay the fiddler.
“You’ve made your own bed,” the chairman went on ruthlessly, “and you’ve made it out of sandburrs. It’s going to be pretty tough to lie in. But you’re going to lie in it this time. Your sentence calls for from one to twenty years. I wish we had power to make it life. You’ve forfeited every right to our sympathy. We cannot inflict more than the maximum sentence upon you, but we can inflict that, and you shall be made to serve every minute of that twenty years, which will amount to eleven years and three months under the ‘good time law,’ without ever again having an opportunity to appear before this board for consideration of parole matters.”
My rating was not only that of an habitual criminal. My criminological rating had me listed as abnormal, criminally insane, incurably anti-social. I was hopelessly beyond the influence of reformation. The warden told me no power on earth save a miracle could ever shorten my sentence one minute.
And yet I sat before that same board five years later and listened to them talk to me in the friendliest tones. And again, a year later, I appeared before them again and received their assurance that I was deserving of another chance. They gave me that chance and I went out five years in advance of the time set for my release. Nor did I use any political or other influence whatever. Indeed, I had only one or two letters of recommendation on file in my behalf, and these were from persons who had no prestige or influential power with the state administration.
Hence, as I sat there in my cell that night on the receiving gallery, my thoughts were fog-bound. I had been able to face short terms with a certain degree of equipoise. Then I could see through to the end. But now there was no end. Already dissipation had stamped me with premature old age. After eleven years and three months I would be fit for nothing, save to join the pathetic ranks of old broken down prison bums who, after making their weary rounds of the various prisons, usually wound up by appearing voluntarily at some prison gate begging for admittance, pleading for the privilege of entering and ending their miserable days in the only sort of home they had ever known.
Yes, by that time, my nerve would be completely gone. I would not have enough left to commit another crime in order to break back into prison. I would come doddering back, burned out and shriveled up, whining and begging for a home and finally a hole in the prison grave yard. I could see that sort of end. But I could see no other.
It was eleven years and three months on the calendar; in the terms of emotion it would be a thousand years. I hated myself that evening as no man has ever hated. One does not know hate who has only hated the conditions in which he lives; the emotion of hate that reaches no farther than to God, to decency, to fairness, to other men, is not hate in its blackest and bitterest sense. One must hate one’s self, wholly, completely, utterly, to really know what hate means. And that is the way I hated on this dreary, futureless evening.
I could see but one way out. A safety razor blade would twist me out of my misery. But a better way would be to die with the guns of the guards roaring in my ears. At least if I was rubbed out in an effort to escape I would have made that one effort. The chances were one in a thousand, perhaps, for success. But there was still that one chance. It would be better to gamble everything on it, than to go out the cowardly way.
As I was trying to choose between these two extremes, I hadn’t known that self-destruction actually was a cowardly way to avoid a bad situation. The prisoner in charge of the gallery had brought this fact home to me. I had told him in answer to his comment, “Looks kinda tough for you this trip,” that if it got too tough I knew how to remedy the situation.
He cackled mirthlessly, “You won’t be the first weakling to take that way out,” he said.
“It takes nerve to wind up your own ball of yarn,” was my reply.
He cackled again. “No, you’re wrong, it takes nerve to face the jolt you’re facing—more nerve than you’ve got, old man. It’s easier to hand in your checks.”
I hadn’t thought of self-destruction in that light. Obviously he was right. Under the circumstances, it required little courage to face death; but to face the lingering torment of this living death, eleven years and three months of it—to face that took real courage. It was courage, thank God, that challenged me to combat. I would not advertise to the whole prison that I was too much of a weakling to pay the piper. Nor would I knuckle down and become the docile, broken-spirited lamb. I would face the music, but I would face it as a rebel, a firebrand, a prison revolutionist.
Naturally, in this attitude of violence, I did nothing but injure myself. It was the attitude I had carried with me into the dungeon some three years later and left there, never again to be resurrected.
That I could use the love medium to gain my freedom never occurred to me of my own accord. After I had discovered that medium and had begun to apply it to my life and the lives of those around me, I was so thoroughly in harmony with my environment that time, place and conditions meant nothing. The days and nights came and went with a smoothness and velocity that was simply astounding. I seldom could tell anyone the day of the week, and the date of the month was a thing I rarely ever knew. Once I was asked the day of the week. I didn’t know. Then I was asked the date of the month, and I didn’t know that either. “Well, do you know what year it is?” asked my questioner. And studying some time I was able to answer that one. But my questioner promptly informed me that I was a year behind time.
So one day when a fellow, and he was an official, asked why I didn’t try to get my case up and get out, I was forced to admit that it had been a long time since I had thought of my freedom. I did think of it after that, however, although not in a way to disturb my peace of mind. I had reached the point where, like my old cell mate, I didn’t care where I was on earth, so long as I could carry on my experiments for the improvement of myself and others. The idea of gaining my freedom now held out its reward, not in the freedom itself, but in the proof or demonstration that it could be gained by the application of love and thought to creative principle.
When I made up my mind to try it I bumped into a string of questioning qualms. Always before I had used the principle for service to others or for the purpose of furthering my own spiritual and mental interests. To use it now merely to gain my freedom left a selfish tang in my soul that I drew back from in a sort of recoiling manner. Even though Dad assured me that my qualms were unwarranted, the feeling continued to persist.
I sought assurance in meditation. It didn’t come immediately. The reason why it didn’t come through was because I was shutting myself from the reservoir of intuitive knowledge by squeezing the channel with strain. I learned that when you seek the super-consciousness for knowledge about a particular thing, you usually wind up disappointed with knowledge about nothing. These are most unsatisfying meditations.
My meditations before had been all-embracing. I sought meditation for the sheer joy of entering that far-flung realm of super-joy. And consequently, having no human desire to hinder bodily relaxation or to prevent the gradual slowing down process of the heart and lungs to the state of pulselessness and breathlessness, I had been able to contact general wisdom almost at a moment’s notice. But with a particular desire in my mind, I could neither relax nor receive, because the nature of the desire was always there, and nothing else could get through or around it.
However, as it later panned out, these futile attempts did impress themselves upon my subconscious mind, and the subconscious mind, in turn, took its directions and passed them on to me.
These directions were specific, but not understandable as applying to my problem. I got them in the form of a dream during subconscious meditation. I did not at first act upon them, because they seemed to have no connection with the one thing I wanted to know and that the question, “Would I be justified in using the creative principle against others in order to influence them to grant me a favor I had come to consider purely selfish?”
Finally one evening, during a desireless meditation, I received the information that there was no such thing as selfishness. There was a misuse of supply and a right use of supply.
And with this, of course, I realized that my freedom rightly used would conform to life’s purpose of spiritual growth, just the same as my imprisonment rightly used had done. We were punished not for our right uses of law, but for our misuses of law.
The directions I received had to do with the transmission of telepathic thought over a distance of many miles. The object of this thought transmission was the chairman of the parole board.
It entailed my having to learn something of this man’s habits. Which I did, working through a friend of mine in the prison record clerks office, and he in turn working through the private secretary of the chairman. I learned a great deal about the home the chairman occupied, its location. I learned that he usually retired at ten-thirty each night that business or pleasure did not prevent. Also, that for about two hours before retiring he sat alone in his library with his books. I learned many details about this library, its general appointments, its shape and location in the house, the reading lamp and the chair where he sat.
With all this information in my hands I was ready to begin the biggest experiment I had yet undertaken, that of impressing my personality upon the mind of a man across a vast distance of space. I had achieved the same thing many times at close range, and I had no doubt but that the same thing could be accomplished at long range. And I might add that this very faith was a great aid to that end.
What I did therefore was to visualize the chairman in his favorite chair in his library. I did this every night so as not to miss him on the nights he actually occupied this place. I surrounded him with an imaginary atmosphere of peace, contentment, comfort, receptiveness. I thought of him in terms of love, of Christliness. I talked to him with my thoughts, wishing him well. Night after night, in this imaginary manner, I hovered around. For several months I kept faithfully and patiently at the experiment, not once allowing myself to become discouraged in the face of the fact that nothing seemed to happen. Indeed, as the effort was extended, it seemed to become almost effortless. In time it grew into a pleasant endeavor. I grew to feel an exuberant joy in paying this man my nightly visit, and I also came to feel that he was finding his library period more and more pleasurable.
Eventually there was added to my directions another piece of business that apparently had no connection whatever to the business at hand, but was so urgent that I was forced to get in touch with Dad Trueblood, who of course had been informed of my experiment from the first.
I was given an urge to write an essay on a certain topic and to submit it to the editor of a certain welfare magazine. At this time the rules of the prison had not yet been lowered to that place where prisoners were allowed to write for publication. This restriction, however, was lifted soon after the event just described.
Dad’s advice was prompt and to the point.
“Write the essay and send it,” he said.
“But the warden won’t stand for that,” I told him. “Besides what do I know about writing?”
“In this case you may find out you don’t need to know anything about it after you get started. If the urge is genuine, the thing will write itself. Anyway it’s up to you to go ahead.”
“Well,” I told him, “I don’t know what it’s all about, but I’m game to try anything once.”
I don’t know whether the essay was good or not. Dad said it was good. The warden said it was. The chairman of the board said it was. The point is, it was because of it that I was called that second time before the parole board, five years after my first appearance before that body, at which time I had been told I would never be called there again for consideration of parole matters. As a matter of fact I wasn’t called there for the consideration of parole matters. But of that later.
After I had finished the essay I carried it to the warden and asked him if I could send it to the magazine indicated. His answer was a flat refusal. But he read the essay. When he had finished, he looked at me with surprise.
“Did you write this?” he wanted to know.
I admitted the fact.
“Well, it’s good,” he said, “and I’m going to put it in the hands of the chairman of the board.” As I rose to leave he added: “You’ve been making a mighty good record lately. Keep it up.”
When the parole board held its next session at the prison I was called before it. My essay was lying on the table in front of the chairman when I entered. I was greeted cordially and told to sit down. The chairman informed me that I was not there because they had decided to reopen my case. He picked up thej essay and asked me if I had written it.
“Yes, sir,” I replied. “Or rather it was written for me. My work was merely stenographic.”
He laughed. “Well, whoever wrote it,” he said, “has expressed sentiments that make for good citizenship.” There was more said, of course, and while I have not given the verbatim account of the conversation, because I do not remember the precise words, I have employed dialogue to express the general trend of the thought. So it has been throughout the writing of this book wherever conversation has been employed. Where I have been able to record conversation verbatim, I’ve done so; where I haven’t, due to a lack of memory, I’ve tried to copy the actual as nearly as I could.
Following this incident, I no longer pursued my experimentation along the telepathic line. I knew that the chairman of the board now had me in mind, and I knew that my prison conduct was being closely watched at the chairman’s request.
I conducted myself as I had been. I went ahead with my work and proceeded to forget all about my freedom. When an opportunity arose whereby I could use the creative principle constructively against the problems of my fellows, I did so. A year thus passed. Then I was called before the board again. This time to receive my freedom.
The subject of thought transference is today under the fire controversy. I have neither desire nor intention of presenting this experience as a contribution to telepathic lore. The argument for or against has no appeal for me whatever. There may not be such a possibility as transfering thought, although my belief is on the positive side. The weight of my evidence is found in the results obtained through my experiments.
In this chapter I have described as nearly is I was able, the exact method used to gain my freedom, to open the door of my prison. That this method was responsible for the opening of that door, I sincerely believe to be true. The reader may believe otherwise. That is a privilege I deny no one. But I might say in addition, that apart from my description of what occurred, there is some documentary evidence. The record of this prison will show that I entered there in the year previously mentioned; that my sentence was set at eleven years and three months; and that without political or other influence of any kind, I was released from there five years in advance of the time fixed by law.
My experience in the prison hospital was rich with evidence that thought was easily transferred from one mind to another. In one of the many cases of hysterically induced diseases, I used the telepathic method exclusively.
The boy was a patient in the tubercular ward. A few months before he had been in the best of health. Then one day he picked up a handkerchief near the hospital, took it to his cell, washed it and began to use it. A day or two later a friend seeing him with an outside store-bought handkerchief, asked him where he got it, and the boy told him.
“Why you big fool,” said the friend. “I’ll bet one of them T.B.’s over there threw it out the window. They’re always doing things like that. They want other people to catch the T.B.”
The boy became panicky and began to brood constantly on what his friend had told him. His appetite began to fade away. He lost weight and lived in daily and nightly dread of the terrifying disease. Then he caught a slight cold and developed a cough. He was sure he had taken tuberculosis. He came on the sick call to the hospital and voiced his fears to the doctor. He was put in a room while an examination was made. He carried no temperature; a sputum test revealed the presence of no germs. But he could not be convinced, and a few weeks later when another test was made, he was running a temperature and the sputum revealed germs.
In the tuberculosis ward I tried every way I could think of to rid his mind of this morbid disease thought. But the thought was so deeply grooved in his subconscious mind that no amount of conscious suggestion could counter-groove it.
I decided to try telepathy on him while he slept. I knew of course that these patients were supersensitive and super-receptive to thought force during their waking hours. But I had never tried to influence one of them while he slept.
At night time in the ward, after nine o’clock, all the lights were turned off, except one red one in the middle of the room. Thus I could slip in quietly, make my way through the semi-darkness, and thus reach his bed side without disturbing his slumber. Crouching directly behind the head of his bed, I mentally called his name, concentrating the full force of my faculties upon its clear deliberate and sonorous enunciation.
At first I got no visible response. Duties intervening, I was compelled to conduct my experiment at short intervals throughout that first night. The following night also evinced nothing in the way of reward for my efforts. But about three o’clock in the morning of the third night, he began to manifest a sense of restlessness during the period I slowly pronounced his name. When my thoughts of him were withdrawn, he would immediately become quiet and begin again to breathe evenly.
Of course, I was elated. To me these incidents were not the accidental disturbances of dream states. I was firmly convinced that he was being influenced, not by internal forces, but by a force of thought exuded from my own mind. However, before I accepted this conviction, I saw the same thing demonstrated repeatedly in more than a hundred precise experiments.
The last one of its kind conducted, that is, in which his response was merely a nervous display, happened in the presence of the night keeper of the hospital and the night captain of the guard. More than a dozen times they witnessed his disturbance while I called to him. And then when I would raise my hand, indicating to them that I was going to withdraw my influence, they saw the tension leave him while he began his quiet even process of breathing once more.
The next experiment brought forth in addition to his physical reaction, a verbal response. Yet I refused to accept this as anything genuinely connected with the experiment until he had repeated it numerous time during the period of my operations. He at no time spoke over the one word while the experiment was going on. That one word was Mother. It was garbled somewhat, as most words spoken in dreams. But the thing that was striking about it was that the inflection was always the same. It was as though his mother appeared to him in a dream and as though he had been expecting her to come. Now the boy’s mother was dead; but it was obvious the memory of her still influenced his subconscious life.
At this point I made an assumption that, naturally, I had no way of proving whether or not it was working out as I assumed it to be working out. But when he would speak the word mother, I would assume that her personality and influence were with him in a dream, and I endeavored to make her say the things I wanted her to say. In other words, while her personality was visible to him in his dream, I assumed that I was she and I spoke to him with my thoughts in terms of his health, seeking always, through telepathic suggestion, to counteract the effect of disease thought held in his subconsciousness, and to replace the disease thought with the thought of health.
This treatment, together with a carefully planned tissue-building diet, I am certain was responsible for this patient’s final and complete recovery from the disease that had taken him very close to death. I am aware that this incident can prove nothing on behalf of the believers of thought transference. But then the motive for my experiment was not to seek proof for or against a theory. My first interest was in the welfare of my patient, and my gratitude came when I was able to witness his steady but certain progress toward recovery. My big thrill of joy arrived on the day the doctor dismissed him from the hospital with a high rating of health.
Love and the creative principle. These words mean absolutely nothing. But to take what they symbolize and incorporate it into the daily livingness of one’s life, means that that one has the key that will unlock all the doors that limit one, in proportion as one’s capacity increases for receiving and using creative power through the medium of love.
Jesus could use creative power greatly, because He loved greatly. When one’s sense of brotherly love is strong enough to die for the future betterment of one’s fellowmen, such a one becomes a magnificent user of creative power and leaves a heritage the like of which has kept and will continue to keep the human family extant and growing toward its goal of spiritual perfection.
What I have been able to achieve with creative power is small when compared to what I should like to achieve. In the minds of my readers, my achievement may not seem great; but to me it is monumental. I have no doubt, had I not come into possession of this key, my prison door would still be locked against me, unless perhaps I had not died long ago from the toxic poisons generated in my system by hate and the philosophy of negation.
For this key I am humbly and enormously grateful.
1935 Edition Printed by DeVorss & Co., Publishers
No copyright shown. No copyright listed in Stanford Copyright Renewals