Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/28

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

16

THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

over the mind, or ought to have, as the rider has upon his horse; that the powers and activities of the mind are to a very great degree independent of the will; that the mind will go on of itself without anymore than just the starting of the will, in the same manner as a horse will go on in the direction that it has been accustomed to go with merely the smallest impulse given by the voice, or the hand, or the heel of the rider, and every now and then a very slight check (if it is a well-trained horse) or guidance from the bridle, or from a touch of the spur, and will follow exactly the course that the rider desires, but by its own independent power. And, again, I showed you that as there are occasions on which a horse is best left to itself, so there are occasions when the mind is best left to itself, without the direction and control of the will; in fact, in which the operations of the mind are really disturbed by being continually checked and. guided and pulled up by the action of the will, the result being really less satisfactory than when the mind, previously trained and disciplined in that particular course of activity, is left to itself. I gave you some curious illustrations of this from occurrences which have taken place in Dreaming, or in that form of dreaming which we call Somnambulism: where a legal opinion had been given, or a mathematical problem had been resolved, in the state of sleep-waking; that is to say, the mind being very much in the condition of that of the dreamer, its action being altogether automatic, going on of itself without any direction or control from the will—but the bodily activity obeying the direction of the mind. And then I went on to show you that this activity very often takes place, and works out most important results, even without our being conscious of any operations going on; and that some of these results are the best and most valuable to us in bringing at last to our consciousness, ideas which we have been vainly searching for—as in the case where we have endeavored to remember something that we have not at first been able to retrace, and which has flashed into our minds in a few hours, or it may be a day or two afterward; or, again, when we have been directing our minds to the solution of some problem which we have put aside in a sort of despair, and yet in the course of a little time that solution has presented itself while our minds have either been entirely inactive, as in sleep, or have been directed into some entirely different channel of action.

Now, like the well-trained horse which will go on of itself with the smallest possible guidance, yet still under the complete domination of the rider, and will even find its way home when the rider cannot direct it thither, we find that the human mind sometimes does that which even a well-trained horse will do—that it runs away from the guidance of its directing will. Something startles the horse, something gives it alarm; and it makes a sudden bound, and then, perhaps, sets off at a gallop, and the rider cannot pull it up. This alarm often spreads contagiously, as it were, from one horse to another, as we