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Manifest Your Desires Effortlessly

In the preceding chapter your attention was directed toward the subject of the Senses and Sensations. You will remember that in that chapter Sensations were spoken of as the "raw materials of mental activities." In the present chapter your attention is directed toward the inner phase of Sensation—the conscious recognition of Sensations—which is known in psychology as Perception. The Master Mind has in Perception a valuable servant—if it be well trained.

Here, please note the distinction between the two: Sensation is the impression conveyed to the mind, from the outside of the limits of the mind, through the medium of the nervous system, and usually through one of the organs of the senses; Perception is the act of consciousness, performed within the limits of the mind, whereby it becomes conscious of the impression of Sensation, and starts to "know" the latter. You may be helped in grasping the distinction by making a mental note of the following statement, viz.: Sensation is a feeling; Perception is the thought resulting from that feeling. Perception interprets the report of Sensation, and translates it into a Thought, or Idea.

Sensation is simple, and depends upon the sensory mechanism; while Perception is a higher and more complex mental process, depending for its efficiency not only upon the degree and attention given to the impression or Sensation, but also upon previous experience and training. It would be noted that one may receive an impression through one or more of the senses, and yet fail to interpret or translate that impression into a conscious Perception, or act of knowing.

We do not perceive all the impressions of the senses; we do not know all our sensations. Out of a multitude of sounds reaching our sense of hearing, we may take notice of only one and interpret it by Perception. Our sense of sight may receive the impressions of many sight-sensations, and yet take notice of and interpret only one of the number. "Walking down a busy street, our eyes register thousands of impressions, but how few of them awaken attention in our minds and result in our perceiving the impression? Unless our attention is attracted toward the impression, we fail to perceive it. Many persons go through life seeing and hearing much, but perceiving very little. Likewise, habit and familiarity may dull the perception. The novelty of a new impression may attract our attention, and arouse perception at first. But "seen too oft," the object causing the impression fails to attract our attention; we begin to fail to notice the impression, and finally may even fail to perceive it at all.

It may as well be stated at this point that in Attention—that wonderful power of the mind, and the one which is the chief tool of the Master Mind—lies the secret of efficient Perception. You will have your attention positively directed toward the subject of Attention as we proceed, and until that point is reached you are asked to note how often the term is employed in connection with Perception. Attention is the key to the mastery of Perception. Withdraw Attention, and Perception practically is paralyzed. We shall see the reason for this presently; in the meantime we ask that you take it for granted.

But more than Attention is required in the act of Perception. The previous experience and mental training of the person manifest results in the process of full Perception. For instance: A gun is fired at a distance. One man, being busy with other things, fails to have his Attention awakened, and so remains in practical ignorance of the happening. The second man has his attention awakened, and registers a simple perception of the impressions; but, having had no previous experience with guns or explosions, he does not fully interpret into Perception the sensation; he perceives "noise," but not "the report of a gun." The third man, having had experience with the report of a gun, interprets the sensation into the Perception of the sensation as "the report of a gun." The fourth man, being well acquainted with the incidents of gun- firing, and being somewhat of an expert on the subject, interprets the sensation so fully that he perceives and knows it to he not only "the report of a gun," but also whether it be the report of a rifle or shot gun, as the case may be, and also, possibly, the size and caliber of the gun. And yet, note you this, the sensation of sound was precisely the same in each and every case, notwithstanding that perception and the knowing varied materially in the several hearers of that sound-sensation.

All the mental powers of the individual are represented in the act of Perception. The memory plays an important part in determining the report of the impression, for all experience and training is registered in the memory, and is called from it when one strives to manifest Perception. Moreover, the discrimination and judgment are called into activity in order to determine "just what" the impression of the sensation may be. The mental processes of the infant give us an excellent example of the growth and development of Perception. At first, "all things look alike to me" to the infant; but the child soon learns to perceive differences between things, and to manifest his knowledge of such differences. Sensation is more or less mechanical; but Perception results from experience, training, and thought processes.

The human child is not born with the perception of Space. At first all things seem to the infant to be equally near or equally far; he stretches out his hands to grasp some distant object, the moon for instance, and cries because he cannot reach it. But in time, gradually, and by experience and experiment, he acquires the perception of the distance and space between things. A person born blind, and afterward having his sight awakened by means of an operation, experiences the same difficulty—he must educate his perception to interpret his sensations of sight. One may have a very keen sense, but unless his perception be developed he will not be able to have an intelligent conception of the things impressed upon him through the sense of sight. A blind man knows a cat by means of his perception of touch-sensation, but when his sight is restored he does not recognize the cat as a cat when he sees it, but must first identify it by touching it and then correlating the impressions of sight and touch before he can recognize and interpret the sight-sensations.

Perhaps some of our readers will be able to get this distinction established more clearly by reference to the familiar example of a crowd of men and women gazing at a woman who is passing them. The men and the women will receive precisely the same sense impression or sensation of the passing woman; but ask them afterward and you will realize the difference in their respective perceptions arising from the same series of sense-impressions, or sensations. You will find that the men will have perceived merely the general appearance of the woman, some perhaps having perceived whether or not she was pretty, dressed stylishly, etc.—in short, the points regarding the woman which have specially interested them. The women of the crowd, however, will be found to have perceived many details regarding the woman's apparel and general appearance; they will have perceived the precise degree of "make up" on the woman's face, the quality and general value of the material in her gown, the details of the trimming thereof, etc., as well as the quality and degree of stylishness of her hat, its trimming, and its probable price. And yet all—men and women alike— will have received precisely the same sense-impressions or sensations arising from the presence of the passing woman.

The reason for the different degrees of perception noted in the example just given is largely that covered by the definition of the term "Apperception," one quite in favor with modern psychologists. Apperception consists, in the main, of the association of the present Perception with others previously experienced; in short, the present perception takes a degree of color from those previously experienced, and, moreover, the color of the previous Perceptions tend to shut out or neutralize other colors inherent in the present Perception. (The word "color" is used here merely in the figurative sense, of course.)

A leading psychologist has well illustrated the action and effect of Apperception in the following story: "A boy concealed himself in a tree and watched the passers. When one man remarked to a friend what a fine stick of timber the tree would make, the boy said: 'Good morning, Mr. Carpenter.' Soon another passed said: 'That is good bark.' 'Good morning, Mr. Tanner.' Presently a young man remarked: 'I'll venture there's a squirrel's nest in that tree.' 'Good morning, Mr. Hunter.' In one sense those men saw exactly the same tree, had the same sensations of color and light from the same object; but from the way the men apperceived the tree, the boy was able to tell their leading vocations. Each apperceived the tree in terms of his most prominent experience. In one sense Perception is an apperceiving process, for each new sensation is biased by previous sensations; each new perception, by previous perceptions. Association is one form of apperception; thinking, another."

There is a great difference between the power of Perception of different individuals, the difference depending very little, comparatively, on the difference in the keenness of the sense organs of the persons, but depending very largely upon the degree of attention which the different persons place upon their sense-impressions, and upon the degree of training they have given their perceptive faculties. That this has a vital relation to the degree of intelligent thought and general knowledge of the different individuals may be gathered from the following quotation from a well-known psychologist, who says: "Perception is the immediate source of our knowledge of outside objects, and in that sense is the cause thereof. Perception also furnishes the understanding with materials out of which it derives ideas and truths beyond the field of sense. As thus attaining a knowledge of external objects, affording material for the operation of the understanding, and furnishing the occasion for the activity of the intuitive power, Perception may be said to lie at the basis of all knowledge."

The great majority of persons are very careless observers. They will see things without perceiving the qualities, properties, characteristics, or parts which together make up these things. Two persons, possessed of equal degrees of eyesight, will perceive quite different qualities in the same thing, or differing degrees of the same quality. One person perceives merely "a pile of stone," while another will perceive a pile of granite or marble, and may possibly perceive the quality and quantity thereof. Another will perceive merely "a tree," while another will distinguish the kind of tree it is, and also many particulars concerning the bark, leaves, trunk, etc., thereof.

A psychologist says of this: "Very few persons can tell the difference between the number of legs of a fly and a spider; and I have known farmers' boys and girls who could not tell whether the ears of a cow are in front of her horns, above her horns, below her horns, or behind her horns." Another psychologist says: "Fifteen pupils in a school-room were sure that they had seen cats climb trees and descend them. There was a unanimity of opinion that the cats went up head first. When asked whether the cats came down head or tail first, the majority were sure that the cats descended as they were never known to do. Anyone who had ever noticed the shape of the claws of any beast of prey could have answered that question without seeing an actual descent. Farmers' boys who have often seen cows and horses lie down and rise, are seldom sure whether the animals rise with their fore or hind feet first, or whether the habit of the horse agrees with that of the cow in this respect.''

As a leading psychologist has well said: "Modern education has tended to the neglect of the culture of the perceptive powers. In ancient times people studied nature much more than at present. Being without books they were compelled to depend upon their eyes and ears for knowledge; and this made their senses active, searching and exact. At the present day, we study books for a knowledge of external things; and we study them too much or too exclusively, and thus neglect the cultivation of the senses. We get our knowledge of the material world second-hand, instead of fresh from the open pages of the book of nature. Is it not a great mistake to spend so much time in school and yet not be able to tell the difference between the leaf of a beech and of an oak; or not to be able to distinguish between specimens of marble, quartz, and granite? The neglect of culture of the perceptive powers is shown by the scholars of the present time. Very few educated men are good observers; indeed, most of them are sadly deficient in this respect. They were taught to think and remember, but were not taught to use their eyes and ears. In modern education, books have been used too much like spectacles, and the result is the blunting of the natural powers of perception.''

The Master Mind is a Master Perceiver, for unless it were so it would not be a Master in the rest of the mental field. A psychologist has well pictured the Master Mind, as follows: "It is a self-conscious activity and not a mere passivity. It is a center of spiritual forces, all resting in the background of the Ego. As a center of forces, it stands related to the forces of the material and spiritual universe, and is acted upon through its susceptibilities by those forces. As a spiritual activity, it takes impressions derived from those forces, works them up into the organic growth of itself, converts them into conscious knowledge, and uses these products as means to set other forces into activity and produce new results. Standing above nature, and superior to its surroundings, it nevertheless feeds upon nature, as we may say, and transforms material influences into spiritual facts akin to its own nature. Related to the natural world, and apparently originating from it, it yet rises above this natural world and, with the crown of freedom upon its brow, rules the natural world obedient to its will."

As we proceed we shall give the reader of this book full and detailed information concerning the Culture and Development of Perception. But, before entering upon that phase of the subject, we wish the reader to become acquainted with the possibilities of such culture and development. Perhaps the best way to illustrate and make clear these possibilities, is to point to specific and particular examples thereof— and the world about us is filled with such examples, as we will find if we will but look for them. An ordinary example is related by a psychologist who says: "It is related to a teacher that if, when hearing a class, some one rapped at the door, he would look up as the visitor entered and from a single glance could tell his appearance and dress, the kind of hat he wore, kind of necktie, collar, vest, coat, shoes, etc. The skillful banker, also, in counting money with wondrous rapidity, will detect and throw away from his pile of bills the counterfeits which, to the ordinary eye, seem to be without spot or blemish."

We shall now present to your attention a number of instances of interesting and somewhat unusual cultivation and employment of the faculty of Perception, which are taken from the work upon "Memory Training" from the pen of the writer of the present book, and in which book the said examples are employed to point out the possibilities of Memory Culture through cultivation of Perception, for the two phases of mental activity have a close connection one with the other. Here follow the quotations above mentioned:


Herschel states that the mosaic workers at the Vatican were able to distinguish correctly between thirty thousand different shades, tints, and hues of color. Ordinary artists distinguish fine shades, tints, and hues of colors that are imperceptible to the ordinary person; the difference being solely a difference of degree of interest, attention, and practice. A person familiar with engraving will detect the most minute points of difference in prints, engravings, etc. Persons familiar with engraved banknotes are able to detect counterfeits at a glance, even in cases where the ordinary eye fails to detect the slightest difference from the original. Experts in handwriting are able not only to recognize the handwriting of the individual, and to distinguish the same from forgeries thereof, but are also able to detect the characteristics of the handwriting even when the writers strive to disguise this; and they are able even to recognize the mental and physical condition of the individual at the time of the writing, solely from an examination of specimens of writing from his pen at such time. These points of difference are of course not perceived by the ordinary person.

Houdin, the great French conjurer, deliberately developed his memory and powers of visual perception, by certain methods, that he was able to pass rapidly by a shop window, taking but one sharp glance at its contents, and then, out of sight of the window, he could give a list, practically complete, of the various articles, displayed in the window, even to the most trifling objects. More than this, he taught his assistant to do the same thing. This would seem almost incredible were it not verified by the best authority.

It is related of several well-known artists, that they had developed their visual perception to such a high degree that they would grasp all the little points of a person's appearance at one glance, and afterward be able to reproduce with paint on canvass. Several celebrated bets based on this power are recorded in the history of the lives of eminent artists. A familiar instance of this class of perception is found among many women of fashion, as everyone knows. They are able to give a quick glance at the wearing apparel of other women, and thus take in the perception of the costume to the most minute detail, afterward reciting the same perfectly. I have known many women, personally, who had developed this faculty to an almost incredible degree of perfection.

Akin to this is the visual perception of certain well-paid observers of the milliners and customers of the large cities. Gaining access to the rooms of rivals in trade, they will sweep the contents of the showcases in a single glance, and in that glance will perceive not only the general style, but also the details of trimming, ornamentation, decoration, etc., so perfectly that they will be able to reproduce the same at their leisure in the workshops of their employers. Large shops in the leading cities of the civilized world employ trained observers of this class, who promenade through the aisles of the shops of their competitors, taking full and detailed mental notes of new styles, improvements, etc., their identity of course being carefully concealed as a matter of policy. This form of trained observation is particularly in favor in the large American cities; in fact, the American observers of this kind are said to excel all others in this faculty of photographic visual perception, and the reproduction thereof, and they frequently receive very high salaries for this skilled work. It is said of some of the best of these observers, that if they be given the opportunity and time for merely a single comprehensive glance at a new gown, they will be able to describe in detail the interesting and distinctive points of the gown, and to direct the reconstruction of a duplicate thereof in the workshops of their own establishment.

It is a well known fact that professional thieves in the large cities of the world employ apprentices as observers. These observers are disguised as beggars, messengers, errand boys, etc., who visit places designed to be the scenes of future robberies. They take a hasty glance at the premises, carefully noting the location of the several doors, windows, locks, etc., which they afterward note on paper. From these notes a map is constructed, which gives the thieves a great advantage in the matter of efficient entry, quick work, and safe escape, when the crime is actually committed.

Spies and detectives in the employ of the secret service of the various nations usually have this faculty well developed—sometimes to a wonderful degree. I personally have been informed by a high official of a certain government that he has in his employ a female spy who is able to perceive an entire page of a letter at a single glance, and to afterward reproduce its contents from memory. This would seem incredible were it not supported by records of many other cases of a similar nature. In fact, such a faculty may be developed by any person of ordinary perception, if he will but devote enough time, work, and interest to the task. Many readers of books really visualize entire lines of the book, instead of single words, and cases are not lacking in which whole sentences are so grasped by a single effort of attention. Other cases, more rare of course, are those in which entire paragraphs, and even a page of a book, are so grasped in a glance by the trained perception. Natural faculty! you may say. Yes! to any extent—but you, yourself, may develop it if you are willing to pay the price of interest, patience, perseverance, work and time.


Sound-perception is likewise capable of being trained and developed to the same remarkable degree. In fact, it is so developed in many cases, as we may plainly see by observing those whose occupations require such a keen perception of sound. The cases of skilled musicians occur to you at once in this connection. The average musician detects shades of tone which do not exist for you. The leaders of large orchestras are able to distinguish the slightest error in note or tone of any one of the instruments being played before them—to pick out the softest note in the flute, from the tremendous volume of sound omitted from hundreds of instruments, large and small, is no slight task, yet it is performed daily, many times each day, by the leaders of large orchestras, as any musician will inform you.

There are many persons who are said never to forget a voice they have ever heard; and to be able to distinguish one particular note from any of the thousands of others they may remember. I have known persons to be able to distinguish between footsteps of many persons, coming and going, in the halls of a large institution, simply by sound, the passing persons being out of sight. Telegraphers can tell who is at the other end of the wire, by perceiving slight differences in the sound of the receiving instrument. Machinists can tell in a moment that there is trouble with their particular machine, simply by an almost imperceptible change in the "whir" thereof. Likewise an old engineer will detect and locate engine trouble almost instantly by means of the slight alteration in the nature of the sound reaching his cars. It is said that an old locomotive driver, or engineer, will hear the little scratching sound of the smallest part of his engine, which sound reaches his perception over and above the roar of the running train. Trainmen will tap the wheels of railway carriages, and will know at once if there is a crack or break or other trouble in or about the wheel. Pilots and officers of boats are able to recognize the whistle of any other boat with which they are familiar, and many railroad men are able to recognize the note of different locomotives in the same way.


It is well known that many persons have developed the sense of touch to a remarkable degree. We will pass over the wonderful instances of this class of perception on the part of blind persons, although even these properly come under the general rule. Persons who handle certain kinds of merchandise are able to recognize fine points of difference in their wares, simply by touch-perception. Wool sorters, and graders of different kinds of material, have this form of perception highly developed. There are but few lines of trade that do not furnish instances of persons becoming very expert in distinguishing the quality of goods simply by the "feel." Some of these men are paid very high salaries by reason of this faculty.


In the same way, the perception of smell may be highly developed and trained by constant and continued practice. This is evidenced by the case of the professional perfumers who are able to distinguish between the most delicate shades of odor. The blind also have this form of perception highly developed, and in many cases are able to distinguish between the odor of gloves, and other articles of apparel, belonging to different persons. I have known young children to possess this faculty of perception to a high degree. I need not refer to the power of animals, dogs in particular, who possess this form of perception developed to a high degree.

It is claimed that each and every person has his or her distinctive personal odor or scent, and that the same may be readily detected and identified by the smell- perception of any person having normal organs of smell, providing sufficient practice and training may be given to the task. Savages have a much keener smell-perception than have the individuals of the civilized races—but it is claimed that if a civilized person undertakes the cultivation of this sense, he will excel the savages therein, owing to his higher power of voluntary concentration and his finer discriminative powers. The civilized races, becoming less and less dependent upon the sense of smell in their daily lives, have allowed this class of sense impressions to practically lapse; but, as before said, the dormant faculty may be aroused into efficiency under the power of the will.


In the same way, the perception of taste may be highly developed and trained by practice and use. We have but to point to the case of the epicures, who are able to distinguish many points of difference and distinction in food and drink, which are imperceptible to the ordinary individual. Many persons employed in certain trades have their taste-perception highly developed; and their employment rests and depends upon such proficiency. The tea-tasters, and wine-testers, are well-known examples of this class. A skilled tea-taster will be able to tell not only from where a certain sample of tea has come, but he will also be able to determine very closely its market value and quality, simply by allowing a few drops of the brew to pass over his tongue. The wine-tester is able to perform the same office in the case of wines. In the case of taste-perception, however, the smell-perception is usually also involved, as it is very difficult, comparatively, to rely on the taste-perception alone, if the sense of smell be shut off—for the two classes of sense impressions are very closely related to each other.

In all of these cases of highly developed Perception, however, it is the mental faculty which has become especially efficient—not simply the sense organs. The training that will produce similar results is that of the mind alone. Providing that the sense organism is normal, the power of Perception relating to that particular sense may be cultivated, trained, and developed to an almost incredible degree. It is true that the cultivation of any class of sense-perception is usually accompanied by an increase in the physical efficiency of the organ of sense related to that particular class of perceptions. This is caused by the development of increased sensitiveness of the nervous matter of the sense organs, which are thus able to more delicately "sense" the impressions made upon it by the contact of things of the outside world. It is a fact that attention directed to any part of the body tends to develop sensitiveness at that point—and in the case of sense organs, it tends to increase the efficiency thereof. Moreover, by use and active employment, any physical organ tends to increase in efficiency, at least within certain limits. But, first, last, and all the time, it must be remembered that all cultivation, development, training, and improvement of the perceptive faculties must be accomplished by mental culture and training—there is no other way. And such culture and training is possible only through the use and employment of the power of Attention.

The above facts being noted, it will seem that the logical course for us to follow in this matter would be to lay aside for the moment our consideration of the subject of the Development of Perception, so that we may acquaint ourselves with the laws and principles concerned with the faculty of Attention. Having learned these, we may then return to our consideration of the subject of Perception, and learn how to develop the powers thereof.