It is an interesting thing, playing devil’s advocate is. Myself, I am ashamed to confess, I get a kick out of it. A man may come to me all smiles, and barely able to contain himself, explain to me some theory or proposition of his. The first thing that comes to mind his gayness not withstanding is finding a dent, a weakness in his theory. I don’t even pause to consider that he might actually be making sense. No. I rush into opposition even as a fish, carelessly handled, might dive back into the water.
Just a few minutes ago I was arguing loudly and shamelessly with a close friend of mine. I had recommended him a book: The Power of the Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy. In truth, I believed pretty much everything the book had to say. It could be that the writer told me exactly what I wanted to hear, seeing that I read it at a particularly vulnerable time, or it could be that what Mr. Murphy says is true. Either way I believed him and that’s partly why I recommended the book to my friend. Now this good friend of mine, after reading a few pages, told me that the words he read rang true, and even confided to me an occasion where exactly what he prayed for came to pass.
Were I a reasonable man, I would agree with him heartily as if we had a meeting of minds. I would venture that his prayer did nothing – his subconscious did everything. I would urge him to read even more of the book and put it to action, then watch as his dreams come true right before his eyes. But alas, I am not reasonable. Without skipping a beat, I bid him be quiet and listen to me.
“That is all very well my friend. But take the instance of a man who’s had his leg amputated. Such a man, after reading Mr. Murphy’s book, may start dreaming of having his leg grow back. Surely, such a thing is not possible, given the present level of technology and human sophistication. How would you advise such a man?”
Even as I asked the question, I did not expect him to answer, seeing that he already had so much faith in Mr. Murphy, and the only reasonable answer, according to me at least, was that the man needs to be practical, that this world is not the stuff of fairy tales. But alas, my friend’s faith in Mur. Murphy was too great to be overcome by my question. He looked me straight in the eye and spoke words that almost threw me off my seat. “The man must keep the faith, for who’s to say what can and cannot happen? Just yesterday if you told a man that humans will visit the moon, he might have laughed his ass off. Yet today we are exploring other galaxies apart from ours. No, nobody in his right mind can set limits to what mankind can achieve. All we need is a picture of the end in mind, and as long as we see it constantly, as long as we dare to dream, we can do anything. Take the instance of a small seed that after months or years, grows into a big steady tree. The seed knew all along what it wanted, and impressed this knowledge into the creative force of the earth. Years later, a marvelous transformation occurs. So let the man with an amputated leg dream. Let him wish for heaven’s sake. Who knows, his leg might grow back.”
I had to admit that, though my friend can be passionate about things, I had never seen him that passionate about anything. He seemed to put his whole life into this argument. I daresay even Archimedes wasn’t this overcome with passion as he ran naked in the streets shouting “Eureka.”
My friend’s argument was so persuasive, so forceful, I was this close to conceding. Alas, old habits die hard. I still persisted in finding a weakness in his argument, just for the sake of it. So I flatly asked him: Do you mean to say that an amputated leg can grow back again. Clever chap, he tried to evade the question, but I saw through his evasion and put forth the question repeatedly until he had to give in. He said he doesn’t know whether the leg in question can grow back. I was expecting him to answer yes or no but he said he doesn’t have an answer to the question. The clever bastard threw me off again.
Myself, I felt I had won our argument, which was so heated by the way, I think one of us banged the table a few times. Yet I did not feel as good as I had hoped to feel. Victory should feel good, else it is pointless. To make matters worse, the sting of defeat was not registered on my friends’ face. I am a competitive man, and I so despise losing, sometimes I don’t compete for the fear of loss.
Yet even as I write this, I wonder whether the subconscious really does have power. After reading Mr. Murphy’s good book, I have put it to the test, and sure enough, it passed with flying colors. Despite the results, I still doubt. My reasoning is that the thing we are praying for, be it the growing back of an amputated leg or the passing of an exam without studying, perhaps these things would have come to pass regardless of whether we prayed or not. Yes, I know my argument is weak and resembles an animal flailing its legs and arms at the hour of death, but it is an argument all the same. Pray, indulge me, dear reader, does the subconscious mind really have power?
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1. The Puppets
2. The Cheat
3. The Executor