There are many forms of suggestion, some more subtle than others. Peer pressure is one form that everyone experiences at some point in time. Our friends and acquaintances do something and encourage us to participate and do it also. In some cases, this can lead to life-long consequences, such as gaining an addiction to alcohol, drugs, tobacco, etc. In other instances, it can be a positive force. Suggestion is a form of influence that acts when it finds a sympathetic vibration or receptivity in an individual. Another form of suggestion is advertising and its further extension of propaganda. In these instances, the suggestion is a highly organised campaign designed to influence behaviour over time through repeated exposure of the message.

Subliminal sleep programming is another form of suggestion that has been used to teach various subjects while the individual is asleep. Aldous Huxley in his Brave New World, described the use of this technique to program societal propaganda into the minds of the children so that it became a core truth of their being without their recognition of the source and meaning of this belief.

Suggestion however need not be only in the form of overt statements or example. There is also the exercise of will-power which can exert force upon an individual to bring them to do things desired by whoever is exercising that will. A reported example was a parent disputing with a neonatal nurse about what the hospital and nurse wanted to do to the newborn infant. The parent was speaking calmly (but forcefully) and the nurse reacted by saying that he should not cease attacking her or she would have him banned from the hospital. The nurse felt the will-pressure and interpreted it as an attack!

Charismatic dictators and demagogues use the force of will to reinforce their words and specifically stated desires to adhere the followers to their wishes and have them act even without explicit instruction.

Not all suggestion comes from human sources either. Vital beings who prey upon human emotional outbursts, as well as forces that transmit illness or other traumatic situations are able to project their force to try to weaken and penetrate the vital envelope and physical protection of the individual, and if they succeed, the individulal can succumb to that vital pressure, react in ways that are even uncharacteristic, or wind up with a bout of illness.

When one is in the presence of a spiritually awakened master, the pressure in the atmosphere surrounding them is palpable. It is said that in certain Ashrams of certain Vedic rishis, wild beasts would live quietly side by side with animals who would normally be their prey, due to the influence of the atmosphere.

Certain locations are imbued with a force of suggestion that accumulates in the very stones of the buildings. An experiment was done with a stone that came from a temple that had been used for hundreds of years as a place of prayer, worship and aspiration. Kirlian photography showed a distinct and powerful radiance coming off that stone, compared to no such radiance from an ordinary stone not subjected to decades or centuries of intense prayer energies.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “A suggestion is not one’s own thought or feeling, but a thought or feeling that comes from outside, from others, from the general atmosphere or from external Nature, — if it is received, it sticks and acts on the being and is taken to be one’s own thought or feeling. If it is recognised as a suggestion, then it can be more easily got rid of.”

“By suggestion I do not mean merely thoughts or words. When the hypnotist says ‘sleep’, it is a suggestion; but when he says nothing, but only puts his silent will to convey sleep or makes movements with his hands over the face, that also is a suggestion.”

“When a force is thrown on you or a vibration of illness, it carries to the body this suggestion. A wave comes in the body — with a certain vibration in it, the body remembers ‘cold’ or feels the vibration of a cold and begins to cough or sneeze or to feel chill — the suggestion comes to the mind in the form ‘I am weak, I don’t feel well, I am catching a cold.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, The Hidden Forces of Life, Ch. 3 Hidden Forces Around, pg. 55

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 20 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.
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