By William W Atkinson (1908)
principal factors in the manifestation of Mental Influence, in all
of its forms, are what are known as (1) Concentration, and (2)
Mental Imagining. The first of these factors shall be considered
in this chapter, the succeeding chapter taking up the
consideration of the second.
"Concentration" is a word derived from two Latin words, i.e. ,
"con," a prefix meaning "to;" and "centrum," meaning "center" or
"fixed central point." The two words combined mean, literally, "to
bring to a common point; to focus," etc. Thus the word
"Concentration" is seen to mean, literally, "the act or state of
bringing to a fixed point or focus."
Borrowing an analogous illustration from physical science, we
readily see that the highest forms of energy, force or power are
manifested by bringing the force to a focus, center, or common
point thereby directing to that point the entire energy employed,
instead of allowing it to become dissipated over a larger area.
The electricity generated by a battery or dynamo, if allowed to
diffuse itself over a large surface manifests but a small degree
of the power that may be obtained from it by compelling it to
discharge itself from a small point of focus. The same is true
regarding the power of steam, which manifests great power by being
forced to discharge itself through a small point or opening
instead of being permitted to spread itself widely in the air. The
same law applies to gunpowder, which manifests force by its gases
being compelled to escape through the small gun-barrel instead of
spreading in all directions, which it would do if unconfined.
Another familiar example is that of the sunglass, or
"burning-glass," which brings the rays of the sun to a common
point or focus, greatly intensifying the heat and light by reason
The occult masters have ever impressed upon their pupils the
importance and necessity of acquiring the power of Mental
Concentration and all trained and developed occultists have
practiced and persevered toward this end, the result being that
some of them attained almost miraculous mental powers and
influence. All occult phenomena are caused in this way, and all
occult power depends upon it.
Therefore the student of Mental Influence should devote much
thought, time and practice to this most important branch of the
It is a fact known to all students of mental phenomena that very
few persons possess more than a very small degree of
concentration. They allow their mental forces to become scattered
and dissipated in all directions, and obtain little or no results
from the same. In the degree that a man is able to concentrate, so
is he able to manifest mental power. A manís power of mental
concentration is to a great extent his measure of greatness.
Mental Concentration, in practice, consists of focusing the mind
upon a given subject, or object, firmly and fixedly, and then
holding it there for a certain time, fully intent upon its object,
and not allowing itself to be diverted or attracted from its
object. It likewise consists in the correlative power of then
detaching the mind from that subject, or object, and either
allowing it to rest, or else focusing it upon another object. In
other words, it either gives undivided attention or else inhibits
(or "shuts off") attention from the given subject or object.
To the reader who has had no experience along the lines of Mental
Concentration, it may seem like a very easy task to focus the mind
upon a subject, and then hold it there firmly and fixedly. But a
little practice will undeceive such a person and will bring him to
a realizing sense of the difficulty of the task.
The mind is a very restless thing, and its tendency is to dance
from one thing to another, darting here and there, soon tiring of
continued attention, and like a spoiled child, seeking a new
object upon which to exercise itself. On the other hand, many
people allow their minds to concentrate (involuntarily) upon
whatever may strike their fancy, and, forgetting everything else,
they give themselves up to the object attracting their attention
for the moment, often neglecting duties and important interests,
and becoming daydreamers instead of firm thinkers. This
involuntary concentration is a thing to be avoided, for it is the
allowing of the attention to escape the control of the will. The
Mental Concentration of the occultists is a very different thing,
and is solely in control of the will, being applied when desirable
and taken off or inhibited when desirable.
The trained occultist will concentrate upon a subject or object
with a wonderful intensity, seemingly completely absorbed in the
subject or object before him, and oblivious to all else in the
world. And yet, the task accomplished or the given time expired,
he will detach his mind from the object and will be perfectly
fresh, watchful and wide-awake to the next matter before him.
There is a difference in being controlled by involuntary
attention, which is a species of self-hypnotizing, and the control
of the attention, which is an evidence of mastery.
The secret of Mental Concentration lies in the control of the
Attention. And the control of the Attention lies in the exercise
of the Will.
A celebrated French psychologist has well said: "The authority is
subject to the superior authority of the Ego. I yield it or I
withhold it as I please. I direct it in turn to several points. I
concentrate it upon each point as long as my will can stand the
effort. Sully says: "Attention may be roughly defined as the
active self-direction of the mind to any object which presents
itself at the moment."
All of the occult authorities begin teaching their pupils
Attention as the first step toward Mental Concentration. They
instruct the pupil to examine some familiar object, and endeavor
to see as many details as possible in the object. Then after
hearing the pupilís report, the master sends him back to the task,
bidding him seek for new details, and so on until at last the
pupil has discovered about all concerning the object that can be
discovered. The next day a new object is given to him, and the
process is repeated. First simple objects are given, and then more
complex ones, until at last objects of great complexity are easily
mastered. In this way not only is the power of close observation
highly developed, but also the faculty of Attention becomes so
highly strengthened that the pupil is able to exert the greatest
amount of Mental Concentration with scarcely the consciousness of
effort. And such a person then becomes a very giant in the
manifestation of Mental Influence. For he is able to mold his mind
"one-pointed," as the Orientals describe it, until he has focused
and directed a mighty degree of Mental Influence toward the
Among the practices imposed upon their pupils by occult masters
may be named Mathematics, Drawing, Analysis, etc. You will readily
see why this is. To begin with, Mathematics requires the undivided
attention of the student Ė unless he concentrates upon his
examples, he will not be able to work out their solution. And,
according to the principle in Nature that "practice makes
perfect," and that "exercise develops power," the practice of the
mind along lines requiring voluntary attention and mental
concentration will inevitably result in the acquirement of the
mental control and power, which renders possible the strongest
manifestation of Mental Influence.
The person who uses Mental Influence must certainly possess the
power of focusing the force to a common point, in order to
manifest the greatest amount of power and influence. And that
faculty of focusing results from the training of the mind along
the lines of Concentration. And Concentration arises from the
mastery of Voluntary Attention. So there you have the whole matter
in a nutshell. So your first step toward acquiring Mental
Influence should be to cultivate Voluntary Attention.
We might fill page after page with exercises designed to
strengthen your faculty of Voluntary Attention, but what would be
the use? The best plan is to set you to work to find something
upon which to concentrate, for the very search will develop
attention. Look around you for some object to study in detail.
Then concentrate your attention upon it until you have seen all
there is about it to be seen, then take up another object and
pursue the practice further. Take a page Ė this page, if you will,
and count the number of words on it.
Then see how many words are required to fill each line, on an
average; then see how many letters there are in each word, in each
line, on the whole page. Then go over the page and see if any
words are misspelled, or if any of the letters are imperfect, etc.
In short, get acquainted with this page, until you know all about
it. Then take up another page, and after studying it in the same
way, compare the two. And so on. Of course this will be very dry
and tedious unless you take an interest in it. And, remembering
just what the exercise is designed for may arouse this interest.
After practicing this way for a short time each day, you will
begin to find that you are able to bestow greater attention upon
objects upon which you are trying to manifest Mental Influence.
You are developing Concentration, and that is the great secret of
the use of Mental Influence, and explains the difference in its
manifestation among men. Think over this.