Question: What relation is there between Yoga and meditation on the one hand and hypnosis, self-hypnosis and autosuggestion on the other?
Answer: It is a very interesting question. The phenomena of hypnosis are not well understood even today, and though they can produce very remarkable results we do not know how they do it.
Physically all the phenomena of hypnosis are based on suggestion—the subject accepting suggestion—something peculiar in the subject’s nature makes them liable to accept suggestion. Swami Rama Tirtha was asked about this and he said that in fact, of course, there is only a difference in degree between the phenomena of hypnosis in the trance subject and ordinary life, and the whole time each one of us is subject to a myriad suggestions from the world around us.
These are obvious facts when we think of advertising or political suggestions, but there is an even more subtle way in which the world is continually bombarding us with suggestions; the senses themselves—the appearances which the senses produce for us in our mind, are in the form of suggestions. There are many cases where what we see depends on the interpretation the brain gives them, the way the mind interprets these things. This is very clearly seen in the case of illusions. We are all subject all the time to suggestion.
Swami Rama Tirtha goes on to say that the mind of each one of us has many wrong suggestions in it. We have to counter these suggestions, and in the yogic practice we use a form of suggestion to counter these wrong suggestions, to induce the suggestions which will strengthen the will and the mental faculties. When we think of how many people went to their death as a result of the suggestion of a Hitler or Napoleon we can see the need for this. We cannot be independent of these wrong suggestions unless we strengthen the mind, and in this process we use suggestion, not with a view to impose ideas but to awaken the mind to a Reality in it. The process of suggestion is used in the preliminary stage in order to strengthen the mind and to make it capable of the process of spiritual enquiry which leads to knowledge.
We are like a man half asleep and dreaming. From the highest point of view our waking experiences have no more validity than dreams. In order to wake up from this dream and to know the truth as it really is, one uses something in the dream. A man in a dream sees a tiger and he quickly gets hold of a dream revolver and he shoots the tiger and wakes up. In the same way, these imaginative ways are used, but the object is to wake the man up and to allow him to know truth.
© Trevor Leggett