The laws which govern the production of the phenomena under consideration are precisely the same as those which pertain to all the other phenomena which have been discussed; and the fundamental propositions of our hypothesis apply with equal force to them all. Again, the reader is asked to recall those propositions, in order that their force and logical sequence may remain clear to his mind in this connection. They are: -
1. The mind of man is dual in its nature, - objective and subjective.
2. The subjective mind is constantly controlled by suggestion.
These two propositions would seem to have been so well established as to need no further elucidation at this time. The subsidiary proposition, which applies to the phenomena under consideration, is that, -
3. The subjective mind, or entity, possesses physical power; that is, the power to make itself heard and felt,and to move ponderable objects.
This may seem at first glance to be begging the question; but its truth must be assumed provisionally, for the sake of the argument which follows. It will readily be seen that if those three propositions can be established, all the physical phenomena of spiritism can be accounted for on the ground that living man possesses inherently the power to produce them. And this is the position which we must assume, for it appears to be the truth.
It must be acknowledged by all who have witnessed, under test conditions, any of the physical phenomena, that there is a dynamic force residing somewhere that is capable of moving ponderable objects without physical contact, and that this force, whatever it is, or from whatever source it emanates, possesses intelligence, oftentimes to a remarkable degree. Now, this intelligent force either emanates from the spirits of the dead, or it does not. If it does not, it necessarily follows that it emanates from the living. That this last supposition is the true one is evidenced by many of the characteristics of the intelligence which it manifests, among which the following are prominent: -
It is essentially a human intelligence, and neither rises above nor sinks below the ordinary intelligence of humanity.
The intelligence is always on a level with that of the medium through whom it manifests itself. That is, it never rises so far above that of the medium as to preclude the possibility of its having its origin in the medium's subjective mind. That it often rises above the medium's known objective intelligence, is well known and admitted. But we have already seen what remarkable powers the subjective mind possesses in certain lines of intellectual activity, and with what limitations it is hedged about; and we find that the intellectual feats of mediums possess all the characteristics belonging to subjective intelligence, - the same wonderful powers, and the same limitations. That so-called spirit communications always correspond to the nature of the medium's mind and character, and are limited by his capacity, is admitted by all the ablest writers on spiritism; and their greatest ingenuity is taxed to account for the fact. Alleged communications from the greatest philosophers who have gone before, amount to the merest twaddle when filtered through an ignorant medium.
Again, we find that the intelligence is controllable by the power of suggestion. This is shown in the readiness with which "spirits" can be made to respond to calls made upon them, whether they have any real existence or not. It is well known that any one can as readily obtain a communication from an imaginary person as from a real one, from a living person as from the dead, providing the medium does not happen to know the facts. The writer has had frequent and very affectionate communications from an imaginary dead sister, and has occasionally had a very touching communication from himself, the medium believing the name to represent a dead brother. The fact that he never had either brother or sister made the communication all the more convincing.
This perfect amenability to control by suggestion is evinced in another most remarkable way. It is well known to every person who has been in the habit of attending spiritual seances how necessary it is that "harmonious conditions" should prevail. The very presence of an avowed sceptic will often prevent any manifestations. It frequently happens that some one present remarks, in a despairing tone, that he does not expect any manifestations, "because it always happens that when I am present no communications can be had." When such a remark is made, the chances are ten to one that the "spirits" will refuse to respond. Why this happens, spiritists have laboriously attempted to explain, but never satisfactorily, except to themselves. The fact that a spirit,possessing sufficient power to move a table, raise a piano to the ceiling, or levitate the medium, should be paralyzed in presence of one who does not believe in spirits, is simply inexplicable, except upon the one hypothesis, namely, that the power evoked is that of the subjective mind of the medium, which is amenable to control by the mysterious power of suggestion.
It is inconceivable that the spirit of Napoleon Bonaparte, who, when living, swayed the destinies of nations, used kings and popes as his puppets, and led his hosts to successful battle against the combined armies of Europe, should, when dead, shrink, abashed and powerless, in presence of some one man who happens not to believe in spiritism. But it can be readily understood how a stance should prove a failure when we assume that the power that moves the table or writes the communications is exercised by the subjective intelligence of the medium, and that the presence of an avowed sceptic operates as an ever-present and all-potent suggestion that the promised manifestations are impossible in his presence. It is in strict accordance with the universal law of suggestion that such should be the result. It is this constant amenability to control by suggestion which always hampers mediums when they are giving test seances in the presence of sceptical investigators; and I undertake to say that no medium ever was, or ever can be, powerful enough to produce his phenomena under test conditions in presence of a hostile and aggressively sceptical investigating committee. It is no fault of the medium that this is the case, and it is no test whatever of the genuineness of his phenomena.
But it is presumptive, if not conclusive, evidence that the source of his phenomena resides within himself, and hence is amenable to the universal law which governs the action of all subjective intelligence and power. Neither is it any reflection upon the sincerity of the investigator that he fails to witness the phenomena that have been promised. His ignorance of the law which governs the subject-matter, together with his desire to be frank and honest enough with the medium to put him in possession of a knowledge of his sentiments and prejudices, leads him unwittingly to place an insuperable barrier in the way of success. It unfortunately happens that many professional mediums, despairing of success in producing the genuine phenomena, and more than ordinarily anxious to earn the reward of success, will, under such circumstances, resort to fraud and legerdemain. The temptation to do so is great when he reflects upon how much is at stake, the immediate monetary reward promised being the least consideration. His professional pride, his love of approbation, his hope of future fame and emolument in case he succeeds in convincing a sceptical scientific investigator, - all operate to constitute a temptation too great to be always successfully withstood.