Of particular significance to the man eager to get on in the world is the new light their investigations have thrown on the faculties of observation, memory, and imagination. Perhaps you who read these lines account yourself most unobserving, forgetful, and un- imaginative. The truth of the matter seems to be that the subconscious part of you perceives everything that comes within range of your sense organs, forgets nothing, and is un- commonly imaginative. As is, for example, strikingly demonstrated in the familiar phenomenon of dreams.
Certainly your dreams are not prosaic commonplaces. They are imaginative in the extreme, sometimes to an almost incredible degree. Yet they are unmistakably the product of your own mind. You are indebted for them to nobody but yourself. And they point directly to the possession by you of a faculty susceptible of cultivation in your waking moments, and of practical helpfulness to you in the winning of success.
You have had, everybody has had, dreams of romantic and thrilling adventure. In your sleep you have composed stories surpassing in interest any a novelist could give you, and holding you fascinated not least because you yourself have been the central figure in them.
You have built for yourself dream houses excelling in beauty the best architect's creations. You have fashioned landscapes more glorious than were ever seen by you on painter's canvas. Again and again you have had dreams compelling you to acquiesce in the exclamation of a New York friend of mine:
"People talk of dreams as at best mere jumbles of fragments of memory. Were my beautiful buildings, streets, rooms, objects of art, armor, mere jumbles ? Their orderly arrangement as well as their beauty have not been equalled in my waking experience."
On occasions, it is true, you have found yourself waking in fright from your dreams. Not Edgar Allan Poe himself could inspire in you the dread that certain visions of the night have inspired. But, splendid or appalling, gladsome or grim, your dreams remain pictures and stories and dramas of your own making, the results of creative imagination; of your creative imagination. How explain them? Also how explain the discrepancy between the vigor of your imagination in sleep, and its inertia, deplored by you, during your waking life?
It can only be that you possess reserves of mental power on which you are free to draw in sleep but on which you make no real effort to draw in wakefulness, because you are unappreciative of their presence. Yet, clearly, these same reserves, if you could but learn to use them, would become immeasurably more useful to you in wakefulness than in sleep. For in wakefulness reason is on the alert, as it is not in sleep, to direct your imagination and apply it to serviceable ends.
Many dreams, moreover, bear amazing witness to the power of the sense organs to perceive and to register on the wonderful mechanism of the memory even things seen or heard without conscious awareness of the seeing or hearing. Experimentally, too, the almost un- believable range of subconscious perception and the tenacity of subconscious memory have repeatedly been demonstrated through the aid of hypnotism, automatic writing, and crystal-gazing, phenomena with which psychical research has done much to familiarize the public.
Again and again persons when hypnotized, when writing automatically, or when gazing into a crystal, have made statements or seen in their crystals pictures relating to matters forgotten by them perhaps for years, and even matters concerning which they could honestly but mistakenly affirm never to have had knowledge.
The same strange faculty of subconscious perception and subconscious memory has, indeed, been amply proved with- out resort either to experiment or to the evidence of dreams. So that to-day one would seem well warranted in declaring that nothing that has once entered the mind through the sense organs is ever really forgotten, however completely it may have faded from conscious recollection.