Love Can Open Prison Doors
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The Last Experiment
2. Love Versus
3. Love Versus Prison Door of Self
4. Love Versus Prison Door of Ignorance
5. Love Versus Prison Door of Violence
6. Love Versus Prison Door of Death
7. Love and The
Prison Door of Disease
8. Love Can Open Prison Doors of Steel
THE LAST EXPERIMENT
from the book titled Love Can Open Prison Doors
by Starr Daily
Except for idiocy and other conditions of
mental invalidism, personal failure is indefensible. The failure is
his own indictment and conviction.
During the last two years I have interviewed more than three
hundred men and women who have openly admitted they were abject
failures in life. In each case I have asked, Why? And in every
instance the answer has been in the character of an alibi. But in no
case has the failure laid the blame for defeat at his or her own
In my own experience and in the cases of all others I have
found this to be an inescapable truth: that when a man offers an
excuse, an alibi for himself, or in any way lays the blame for his
weakness, conditions, or failures on some one or some thing outside
himself, he is invariably wrong, and in nine cases out of ten he is
a weakling and a coward who is roundly condemned by his own spirit.
His alibis may and generally do enlist the sympathy of
those upon whom they are practiced. But if he is a normal human
being, there is one person who will not accept his offering, and
that is the person who is his real self. Mild of manner, easy-going,
and infinitely patient, this real person, who dwells silently within
him, listens to his excuses and then whispers softly, You must tell
it to your friend George: but not to me.
If you insist, this quiet man within will begin to shame
you with a long string of apt comparisons. He will point out those
who have less advantage and native ability, but who are successful.
He will take you into the bedrooms of the ill and incapacitated and
let you observe courage at work in the service of humanity. He will
present you with a long list of names in the huge book of political,
industrial, artistic, cultural, civic, religious, and scientific
life. Then he will tell you how many of these were practically
illiterate, inarticulate, friendless, without direction, influence,
or prestige but took advantage of opportunities that have swirled
unnoticed about you all your life.
This inner man once spoke to a friend through Thomas
Edison. The great inventor and his friend were walking along a city
street. The friend wanted to know if it were not very difficult to
succeed in this high-speed world of terrific competition. Mr.
Edison's eyes directed the gaze of his friend to a ragged,
prematurely old man on whose bent shoulders lay a large sack of
junk. Then he answered: Yes; but it is more difficult to fail.
On a day in the spring of 1930 I sat in the cell of a
fellow convict. As I had done, he had wasted the best years of his
life behind prison bars. He was telling me that he was sick and
tired of prison bells, profitless labor, and convict hash. But at
forty it was too late to think of turning Honest John.
I inquired into his particular brand of reasons for failure
, because all criminals are failures, whether they be big protected
ones who never see prison, or little unprotected ones who rarely see
anything else. He had figured it all out and possessed an alibi as
iron-clad as the cell door behind which we sat. He could trace it
all back to an unhappy instance in his childhood when a too stern
father flailed the hide off him because he wanted to see what made
the wheels go around in the family clock. Had his unimaginative dad
been more appreciative of the genius behind his destructive
curiosity, he might now be a mechanical engineer instead of a weary
slave in the prison rock quarry.
I'm dressing out next month, I told him. And I'm never
Whatta ya think you're gonna do'? he asked, giving me a
I learned the tricks of making dishonest money, was my
reply, and to the degree I succeeded I failed. Now I'm going to
learn the art of earning an honest living. Isn't that good logic?
He assured me that eighty per cent of the convicts were
two, three, and four-time losers, and that every one of them had
made that same remark a thousand times. But it don't mean
anything, he added. It's just like the resolution a drunk makes on
the morning after. He's never gonna take another drink as long as he
lives. But in a couple o' hours he's all lit up again, an'
everything looks Jake.
I insisted that mine was not an idle New Year's resolution.
But what can you do? You don't know how to work. When you go out
you'll meet twenty million Honest Johns who do know how, and who
know all the ropes about getting jobs. They'll be your competitors
in the labor market. They're skilled workers; got good names an'
reputations. They can face employers with the best. But what have
you to offer ? Just a life of crime. A penitentiary pallor and a
lock-step hitch in your gait. A fat chance you'll have. At best I
give you six months to try this bug-house notion. Just long enough
for the soup-line to stare you in the face. Then you'll wake up with
a bang and blast open the first safe you come across.
He did not understand that I had already wakened with a
bang while lying half dead in solitary confinement. There in a
moment's time the folly of crime and the stupidity of hatred
appeared clear cut in my consciousness, and I got an authentic
glimpse of the greatest power in all the world, the power of love,
which, when lived with any measure of proficiency, could see you
through any emergency, dissolve your toughest problems, cause you to
lives serenely, triumphantly, and successfully at any time and in
any place; that with love on your side as a philosophy of life every
obstacle and opposition could be discerned in its true light, as an
opportunity to call forth your power.
This was a magnificent vision, although I did have to get
it through blind suffering. It has sustained me in all the hard
hours since I left the prison, and has turned every difficulty into
a glorious challenge and blessing.
After I had caught it, my powers of recollection were
stimulated, and I wondered how I could have been so blind as not to
see that love and not hate was the real power in this world.
Instantly I began to recall events in my past when the truth of
love's power had been made so plain that only a midnight soul could
have failed to recognize it. Now, looking back, I could see how the
power of love had performed strange things in my life.
I recalled a time when I was being held in jail on
suspicion of burglary. For two days and nights I had been subjected
to third degree police methods in an effort to torture a
confession out of me. My head had been beaten with a rubber hose
until it resembled a huge stone bruise, swollen beyond human shape,
my face black from the congealed blood beneath the surface. Lighted
cigars had been pressed against my flesh. I had hung for three hours
with my wrists handcuffed over a hot steam pipe. My arms had been
twisted behind me and my elbows beaten with black-jacks until the
bones felt crunchy. Heavy heels had ground my bare feet against a
concrete floor. On the third night of this I was about at the end
of my endurance.
Again I was dragged into the torture room and sat down
within the semi-circle of twelve big detectives. My previous
sustaining energy of hate and anger had dwindled into a dull sense
of indifference. I was alarmed at this new state of affairs. For I
had learned that pain could easily be assimilated if sufficient
hatred could be thrown against it. I did not want to weaken. Death
was preferable. But could I stand the pain without the sustaining
force of hate?
You'd better open up and come clean, the Chief informed
me. If you don't you're gonna get the works. Y' understand?
I continued to sit in silence, expecting the worst, and
wondering if I would be able to take it.
All right, boys, said the Chief. Get busy. Let the rat
It was the show down. Unless I broke, my life was not worth
a dime. I knew this as two of the detectives stepped towards me.
Then a strange thing took place in my consciousness. All hate and
anger were gone. The vague sense of indifference vanished. And in an
unbidden instant there welled up within me an overwhelming
compassion for these men, for their pathetic ignorance, their
undeveloped souls, for the pitiful condition of their minds and
hearts. And as this strange sentiment reached a high peak of
intensity within me the Chief spoke, and what he said constituted a
Don't hit him again, he barked out. Take him back. I was
returned to my cell, and for the remainder of the night I was under
the care of a doctor. The next morning I was transferred to a
private hospital, where I lived for three weeks. Every day a number
of women came to see me, bringing flowers and other gifts. It was
all quite mystifying, and the nurses' guarded explanations did not
clarify the mystery. These women were the wives of city detectives.
I could not figure the thing out. I was only a friendless,
unprotected criminal. They had no reason to placate me with gifts
and attention because they feared what I might reveal. I was told
not to worry about anything, that all bills would be paid. Nor was I
returned to the jail on being discharged from the hospital. Instead
I was given an envelope and told that I was free to go. In the
envelope was no word of explanation. Only five crisp, ten-dollar
It was not until twenty years later, twenty years filled
with crime and punishment, that I was able to see through this
mystery, and to know the power, because of which my life had been
spared and this odd consideration shown me.
On another occasion when I was on the dealer's side of the
table, I was an unseeing witness to this transmuting power of love
in action. I was robbing the safe in the home of a priest. He
surprised me in the act. From a stairway above me I heard his
unexpected voice: What are you doing there, my child?
I wheeled, my flashlight and gun on him. He was in a night
robe and unarmed. Stand where you are, I commanded sharply. I've
got you covered.
I mean you no harm. His voice had a rare accent of
kindliness and honor in it. Slowly he began descending the steps.
Stop, or I'll drop you! I commanded him. With superb
assurance he came on, reached the bottom, and walked leisurely over
to a light switch and pressed the button. Turning to me, then, he
said: Put your gun down, my child. I only want to talk with you a
Logically, of course, from my point of view, I was in a
close place with the odds in my favour. It was not sound criminal
judgment for me to accede to his request. The correct procedure
under the circumstances would have been to tie him and gag him, then
to proceed with the business at hand.
What a singular thing for me to do! I obeyed him and sat in
the chair he pointed out. I say singular, because it was so
illogical, unreasonable from the viewpoint of a confirmed crimester--
and because, also, I listened to him while he talked to me about God
in a most singular way-- a way in which there seemed to be nothing
offensive to my God-hating mind. God might have been my own father,
or an elder brother, or a very close friend, anything but the
fierce-eyed black-bearded monster of wrath, anger, and fire I had
heard so much about.
At two o'clock in the morning I accepted this priest's
invitation, went with him into the kitchen, and joined him in a cold
bite. I left his home without taking his money. He shook my hand and
blessed me. I had no fear that when I was out of sight he would
exercise what the world calls duty and call the police. To this day
I am sure he never mentioned my nocturnal visit.
What was this strange power he possessed over me? He did
this because his love was genuine, not the romantic, sentimental
emotion that men call love; but that deep sense of compassionate
being which was so eloquently expressed by the Master when He said
Neither do I condemn thee. Nothing less than love could have
caused me to act in a manner diametrically opposite to my habitual
character as a criminal.
You see, I am introducing you to my theme. I am telling
you about a power that resides in the hearts of men, which is a
power greater than any power ever to be discovered in the realm of
It is a power possessed by all, but recognized by few. It
is the most dynamic and readily accessible power in the universe of
men. Every man can contain and express this power. It is practical.
And because it is accessible to every man and because it is
practical, I am perfectly safe in making again the boldest statement
ever made by another human being: that, except by idiocy and other
conditions of mental invalidism, failure is indefensible.
Occasionally when a man has suffered enough he will
accept this power and use it. Sometimes his suffering is so great
that the sheer intensity of his need will awaken him to this power
which is closer to him than breath, and will heal him instantly. I
call love the last experiment, because though it is the closest
and most fundamental thing in a person's life, it is the last thing
he will turn to for help when he is in distress.
In talking to you about love I shall not get mushy and
sentimental. For love is everything that sentimentalism is not.
Love is power, while sentimentalism is the misuse of power.
In its practical application love is as precise and scientific as
mathematics. Without it there could be no universe, no cell
organization of any kind. Because love is the only integrating
power in existence. It is all that can establish order out of chaos
or maintain order in chaos.
Whenever it is recognized by man he likewise recognizes
harmony. Love is never a disintegrating force. Science deals with
disintegrating natural forces; but wisdom deals with the power of
love. Natural forces lead to change: love to permanence. Love
simplifies life. All that is less than pure love complicates it.
Love is endurable, eternal. It is the one ultimate expression which
can combine and sustain all principles of the natural and spiritual
worlds. Its application releases the soul of man from the bondage
of limitation. Love is God in action. And the process of becoming
the doctrine of love is to grow into oneness with God.
The beautiful thing about the doctrine of love is that it
casts out all fear, all striving and struggling. You merely act and
express the virtues and qualities of love, and all that is needed to
sustain you in happiness and harmony are inevitable consequences of
your action. You are attached to nothing except the action of love.
You desire no results; but possess perfect assurance that the
correct results necessary to your life at a given time will be
supplied. The sense of impending insecurity is unknown to him who
lives the doctrine of love.
With the light of love to guide us the idea of seeking God
fades on the film of our consciousness, and we know, then, that this
idea, long held and fostered by men, is as false as the beard of
Hercules. It is God who is doing the seeking. It is God who stands
at our door and knocks. When we consciously and deliberately set
out to seek God, we are simply being annoyed by God's seeking us.
His incessant pounding on our door gets on our nerves, we try to
escape from the friction and irritation of it, and we call this
seeking God. We go to church, or the lecture hall, or drop a coin
in the hand of a beggar, or we join a charitable organization. And
the more we seek the farther we drift from the real consciousness of
God's presence, for we stifle His voice and dull the sound of His
knocking. God is the Supreme Shepherd, and it must forever be the
logical procedure for the shepherd to seek his lost sheep, and not
for the lost sheep to seek him. When we are lost in the woods our
sense of direction is gone and we move about in fruitless circles.
It is only when we cease seeking our way and sit down and get quiet
that we regain our poise and balance sufficiently for intuition (the
Spirit of God) to lead us out of our dilemma.
Our job here is to learn to love. It is the only
obligation man has in the world. There is no other religion. And it
is all the salvation possible. Any service rendered in an effort to
placate God is futile. If you think you can serve God while at the
same time you have in your mind you are serving God, then you are
separating yourself from God. Service to God is present only when
the thought of serving Him is absent. When you love the service and
think not of rewards or results, or that you are doing it for God in
return for His gifts, God will then draw nigh unto you.
The lover always question the correctness in any ethical or
moral or philosophical statement that has become platitudinous and
hence meaningless. Consequently when he hears the statement Serve
God, he begins to analyze the correctness of the statement. And he
discovers it to be a meaningless platitude in its current sense. For
he knows that you can perform your charities, your prayers, and your
abnegations until doomsday without ever becoming aware of God's
presence. But if you really love God, and really serve because you
love to serve, and you really pray because you love to pray, then
the statement, Serve God, is not a platitude. It has meaning and
salvation in it. And it is rewarded with the gift of God's grace.
The statements of Jesus have never degenerated into the category of
moral platitudes, because they are firmly rooted in the doctrine of
Now this being a very important point, as my book will
increasingly endeavor to show, let us dwell just a little longer on
the subject. In God service and love are one and the same thing. If
we learn to love in the true sense we cannot help serving God. But
if, by our wills and misconceptions, we force ourselves to serve
with the mistaken notion we are serving God, or if in our service
the motivating quality of love is absent, then service and love are
separated, and our service is questionable; indeed, it is false and
spurious. We must, therefore, learn to love first, and having
learned to love, all else is added as a natural consequence.
We begin with the tremendous truth that the only world duty
and spiritual obligation we have is to become love, that is, to
learn to love and mean it.
Hence if this is our only obligation we begin by learning
to love. We learn to love by first practicing love. The more we
practice the more we become conditioned to the vibration of love.
And in time, if we persist, we actually become a true lover of God
and the creatures and creations of God. When this time comes we can
serve God, and inevitably will serve Him, and our service will be
To illustrate this point an example may be employed.
Suppose you have a very dear friend. You do something to hurt or
offend him. Thereafter something stands between you and your friend.
It is an invisible and nameless barrier, which you want to remove.
In seeking to remove it you try various ways to serve him. You bring
him gifts, or you seek to make influential contacts advantageous to
him. In other words, you seek to heal the world in his heart by
means of compromise and placation. But the barrier remains. All you
do does not wipe away the disappointment in his eyes.
So long as this disappointment is allowed to remain you are
separated from your friend, although you associate with him daily.
While it remains you cannot serve him effectively, because the
server and the object of service are separated. So long as this is
so you cannot know how to serve him.
Finally you weary of your thankless efforts, and you go to
your friend in a spirit of humility and contrition, and you
apologize for your wrong, and you ask him to forgive and forget. The
spirit within him meets the spirit within you. All hurt vanishes
from his face, to be replaced by a smile of genuine joy. Your old
relationship is instantly re-established. And now you can serve him.
You bring him a gift that is a gift of real love and affection. You
do things for him because you love to do it, and not because in
doing it you desire to win back his friendship.
And so it is with God. When His Spirit has become your
spirit, when you have actually known Him by a deep inner experience
of knowingness, you are capable of serving Him in works, faith, and
prayer. But to pray to God without loving God, or without the
capacity to love Him, is to render lip service to an unknown God,
and the only possible value in such a prayer must be psychological
and not spiritual.
Finally when we have suffered and been defeated enough we
shall turn to the last experiment, we shall turn to love and begin
to learn to love by practicing love. As we become love we draw God
to us; when we know God we cease all straining and quietly lay our
burdens in His lap, knowing that He knows best how to dispose of
them. But how do we begin the practice of love. Love is charity in
the true sense of that misused word, and charity begins at home.
Hence we start the practice of love first in our own homes. It is
when we learn to love those nearest to us that we are then able to
love our neighbors, the citizens of our community, and finally of
the state and nation and the world. And then our love reaches out to
embrace all nature. With this accomplishment the Grand Passion is
born full-blown in our hearts and we love God with an affection that
is holy. To love Him is not to seek Him longer; but to accept Him
who has long been seeking us.
Since writing this simple chronicle of love in action
behind the bars of a modern penitentiary, I have received several
hundred letters from all parts of the world. Some have been inspired
by reading the book; a few have been repulsed. Many have had their
curiosity aroused. Others have found in it the information necessary
to effect salutary changes in their lives: they have regained lost
health; have solved their environmental and economic problems. All
have asked questions concerning statements which were either implied
or lightly touched upon in the context. And these questions are the
most important features contained in the letters received.
To ask has value. To decide upon the answer has greater
value. To act upon the decision is of supreme importance, whether
the decision acted upon be good, bad, or indifferent. It is better
to keep busy with blunders and mistakes, trials and errors than it
is to sit with folded hands and a heart filled with unexpressed and
The questions have called forth this introduction. Almost
entirely these pages are concerned with the deliberate and conscious
application of the Law of Love to the practical everyday problems of
life. My readers have unerringly sensed the power of love as
being a power within their capacity to recognize and to use. But
they have wanted to know more about what love is, as well as how to
use it and what it does when used.
I make no claims of a last-word nature. Love can be defined
on familiar levels of consciousness. Beyond that it enters mystery
and awaits our arrival in another dimension.
The following statements we can comprehend:
We cannot escape love. If in the physical body we ceased to
love for an instant we should die. Hate is nothing more than an
intense form of self love. It is a twisting of God's love,
causing it to operate negatively rather than positively,
destructively rather than constructively in the direction of our own
best interests. Because God loves, we love. Our love does not
create that which was before. Before our love, was God's love. It is
His love which created our love, and which supports, sustains, and
expands it. We are partakers of God's love. We act in the direction
of those qualities of being which we conceive to be of God. God's
love is always creative. We are creative when we express His love in
action. As to what His love creates, through us, is a matter of our
own choice. To act in the direction of kindness, faith,
discrimination, gratitude, reverence, forgiveness, is to build the
qualities of constructive love into our personalities. To act in the
direction of hate, doubt, in discrimination, ingratitude,
unforgivableness, is to build into our personalities the destructive
qualities of misused love.
As Robert E. Speer has pointed out in his work, Seeking
the Mind of Christ: His love is the power of our loving.
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and
sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. If God so loved us
we also ought to love one another. We love because He first loved
us. God's love did not begin when we began to love God. We never
would have loved either God or our brother had it not been for the
love of God. His love, whether we knew it or not, begat all our
love. Our love of God . . . is but letting Him love us. Our love is
but a faint shadow of His, a shadow that advances and retreats and
quivers uncertainly. The great and steadfast love of God is not the
child of the shadow. Unchanging, measureless, utterly forgiving,
rich with the wealth of His infinite nature, the love of God is
beneath and above and about our weak human love, and we can rest
upon His love as the great certainty beyond all our impulses.''
We swim in an infinite ocean of love. To
become increasingly conscious of our oneness with love, is the mark
of exercising intelligent self interest. To this end, we do not
labor and strain in our search for love. It is above, beneath, and
about us. It is seeking us.
To respond is the secret. To exercise the capacities
we have for love is to expand our capacities for receiving and
expressing love. Seeking love is to attempt to define a love which
we have not yet developed the capacity to express. How can we
understand the love of the Supreme Lover, except we approach His
love through the process of practice or of daily becoming? With only
a modicum of His capacity for love, how can we understand the things
He did not do:
He might have built a palace at a word,
Who sometimes had not where to lay His head;
Time was, and He who nourished crowds with bread
Would not one meal unto Himself afford;
Twelve legions girded with angelic sword
Were at His beck, the scorned and buffeted;
He healed another's scratch, His own side bled,
Side, feet and hands with cruel piercings gored,
Oh, wonderful the wonders left undone!
And scarce less wonderful than those He wrought;
Oh, self restraint, passing all human thought,
To have all power, and be as having none;
Oh, self-denying love, which felt alone
For needs of others, never for its own.
This is the great love. We move toward it. In
this high sense, love is all a bestowal, a giving of ourselves with
a discriminatory purpose-- that of moving in the right direction.
The very air we breathe is a bestowal of God's love to us. To become
aware of this fact is to be grateful for the grace which makes
breathing possible, and to become aware of love in the smallest
degree is to partake of more of love's inexhaustible supply. Our
out-breath is a bestowal of love whose chemical qualities support
and sustain the lower forms in nature. To become consciously
aware of this unselfish process is the important thing for us, for
increasing awareness is the measure of expanding consciousness, and
expanding consciousness is the increasing capacity for receiving,
containing, and expressing the love which God has bestowed upon us.
This book, therefore, is an indication of a way. It
points out the modus operandi of one man who caught a glimpse of the
love theme in the stillness of a dungeon cell. Its keynote is
response; its purpose is not definition, but inspiration. To be
inspired is to want to act. The book being true, it must inspire, to
cause the reader to want to act. How to begin to act and how to
continue to act; in a word, how consciously to apply the dynamic
power of love to the every day problems confronting the personality
life-- this is or should be the aim of any book dealing with
personal experience of this kind.
One thing is certain, no man or woman can act in the
direction of bestowal unseen or unrewarded. Man acts and the Spirit
LOVE VERSUS DUNGEON DOORS
CHAPTER II Two
from the book titled Love Can Open Prison Doors
by Starr Daily
When I say that love
can open prison doors I mean that literally. When I say there are
doors n much stronger than the doors of a punitive prison, I mean
that literally also. But when I speak of this love I'm not referring
to it in the usual Pollyanna sense, as something to be hazily
realized and half heartedly applied.
Love is a dynamic force in the
world. It is the most powerful creative force in existence,
and it is responsible for nearly everything created by and through
man. Love for God, for charity, for service; love for money, for
power, for fame-- all or any one of these urges will drive men and
women to use the creative principle that sends them to the top of
their respective desires. But since all human desire is insatiable
it is never fully gratified. Creative progress is made in proportion
as the driving love medium behind ambition goads the goal-climber
Love for debauchery, for crime, for the gratification of
pigsty appetites send men and women toward the bottom that
represents the goal of their respective desires. But again since
human desire is insatiable, the gratification sought is never found.
Creative degradation is advanced in proportion as the love driving
media for degradation is used toward its end.
Behind the creation of an infant lies the contacting medium
of love. And since that love is human it produces a human being, and
thus perpetuates the human race with all its human desires and
aspirations, its human follies and mistakes, its trials and errors,
its tragedies and humors, its enormous conceits and egotism that
cause it to survive through all the elemental cataclysms and plagues
to which the earth is heir.
Love for opinion makes saints and scoundrels, martyrs and
tyrants out of men. Love for publicity and notoriety makes heroes
and dare-devils. Love for self creates bigotry; for others,
Always love is a medium through which man contacts and
applies the creative principle of the universe. And what love is
allowed to create through man is up to man himself. His love
attitude determines the course taken by creative principle.
Inevitably, the creative principle operating on and through man,
creates something; something noble or ignoble, constructive or
The principle in itself is ultimate unity, and is
therefore not subject to finite discriminatory limitations. It is
beyond time, space, duality, judgment, because in it all things are
dissolved into the changeless whole. It has but one purpose, one
nature, one reason for being, and that is to create. And create is
what it does. There is neither good nor bad connected with its
creative purpose. These are human discernments recognized by man and
obeyed by creative principle. The principle being infinite and
discernment finite on the plane of duality, it follows that man can
use creative law only in the ratio of his capacity to receive it,
and no more. One may sink as low as his faculties of invention are
capable of carrying him; one, may rise as high as his understanding
and application will reach.
The foregoing is no attempt to define love, because that
cannot be done. All definitions limit and the limitless cannot be
limited, pigeon-holed, or labeled. He who would seek to define the
indefinable would only curb his capacity for using it. Consequently,
what I have said should be taken for what I have intended it to be,
a description rather than an exposition.
Also, when you read this, please understand clearly that I
am not a reformed convict, because the term reform has lost the
whole of its pristine meaning. Its purity has been defiled by many
unwholesome connotations; too much Comstockism, commercialism and
hypocrisy have been attached to it in recent years, especially, to
warrant my associating myself with it in these pages. The term has
become the living symbol of suppression and all that is mean and
narrow in human conduct and behavior. Rather, I wish to be looked
upon here, not as a reformed criminal, but as a fool who has been
privileged to shake of a little of his foolishness; at least to the
extent of realizing that a fool's paradise isn't all it's cracked up
In every prison they have many unjust rules, the same as
every nation has many unjust laws. One of these rules in the prison
where I was last confined had to do with what is called, for some
strange reason, the right to trial.
This right was vouchsafed the prisoner charged with
violating prison law in what was known as High Court. This court
was in session twice weekly. It consisted of the deputy warden, who
was its prosecutor, judge and jury. When you entered in to answer
the complaint placed against you by your warder, the deputy would
read the charge and then command you to admit your guilt to it. Why
all this mockery and waste of time that could have been better
employed was, of course, a mystery. Certainly the court was
unnecessary since your accuser's word was infallible. If you denied
your guilt and thus dared to infer your innocence, your action was
equivalent to calling your warder a liar, and this implication was
certain to increase the amount of punishment meted out, unless, like
Galileo, you were diplomatic enough to change your mind and recant.
The theory seemed to be that the aspersion liar was a natural
characteristic of the prisoner, but that all prison warders were
George Washington who couldn't possibly tell a lie.
Naturally, nearly every one recanted sooner or later. Some
had to be persuaded by a few weeks in the dungeon on bread and
water, it is true. But so far as I know I was the only man haled
before the prison court who preferred slow death by starvation
rather than life by an admission of guilt. There was no principle
involved in my stand. None at all, other than just plain
hard-headedness. I was not rebelling against an act of injustice,
because I was sufficiently honest to admit that my whole life had
been built upon injustice toward others, and that all things being
equal I had injustice coming to me. No, I was simply exercising a
foolish prerogative to remain obstinate regardless of the pain and
It was in the middle of an exceptionally bitter winter. The
torture chamber was damp, foul, and dark. The stone were full of
frost; the concrete floors were wet and icy. You were put into a
cell with nothing but a thin, much-washed shirt and overalls. Your
shoes were taken away, but you were allowed to retain your socks.
At night the keeper of the dungeon brought you a thin and filthy
Such is a brief picture of the place I entered to carry
out my own self-inflicted verdict of death. When he put me into the
cell the deputy warden said: When 1 let you out you'll crawl to me
on your knees and whine and beg like a dog. And while you're in here
eating bread and water, I'll be living on ham and eggs and sleeping
in a good warm bed.
Knowing the man as I did, I had no reason on earth to
believe he might suddenly become chicken-hearted and relent. On the
other hand, I told him in reply, and I knew I meant it, that his
rats would carry me out a chuck at a time before I'd ever whine to
him. Obviously, therefore, my fate was sealed as tightly as it could
be sealed by two human wills in conflict.
And yet I was finally released from the dungeon weak but
alive and an infinitely wiser person. I had done no whining or
begging of any kind. In fact, from the day I entered until the day I
was released no word passed between the deputy warden and me. He
came each day and opened the solid door of my cell, stood there a
moment in silence to give me a chance to speak, then he would close
the door and pass on to his next victim.
Although I am engaged here with a few chosen
events in my life, and in nowise with an autobiography, it is
necessary for me to digress at this point if the reader would be
spared the annoyance of numerous digressions later on. Certain
things in my life prior to the dungeon experience touched upon,
which have a relative importance as bearing upon that experience,
must be traced out for a clearer understanding of what might
otherwise appear to border on the miraculous or the impossible.
It is the usual thing to suppose that one's dream life is
closely associated with and to a great extent influenced by one's
conscious life. And this is true to a great extent. No doubt the
dream which I shall later describe would seem too far-fetched and
contrary were it to stand alone unsupported by conditioning causes.
Since I was a person who for many years followed a criminal
career, whose every thought and action during those years had been
in violent contrast to all precepts of common decency, it is only
reasonable to conclude that my dream life would have revolved pretty
much around a similar pattern. Or at least that my dream life could
hardly have been expected to revolve around holy and superior
But even though the years have a way of blurring the most
vivid experiences of childhood, the historic cycle has a peculiar
penchant for resurrecting those experiences, both in the conscious
and subconscious realms of activity; of duplicating events; of
repeating incidents, which in their day were passed over as having
no apparent significance.
I wish to say now that as a small child my dreams were
frequently woven around the personality of Jesus, although in my
home there was no particular stress laid upon religious things, or
upon the Saviour's ministry as it was recorded in the Bible. I had
no leaning toward church service, and I was not compelled to attend
Sunday school. Despite these omissions, nevertheless, my early dream
life invariably had to do with things of a holy nature.
Then at twelve years of age I began a series of minor
crimes, which soon developed into major ones. At fourteen I was a
confirmed criminal with all the bitter, negative philosophy
possessed by the toughest of the men who prey. This transition did
not affect the intensity of my dream life, but it did greatly affect
the quality of my dreams.
My early dreams of Jesus had always been laid in a strange
beautiful garden, different from any garden I had ever seen, heard
of, or read about. It was a shoe-shaped valley plot surrounded by
gently sloping tree and shrub-dotted hills. There were many
varieties of flowers growing wild. At one end of the garden a great
white grey rock jutted out and from behind it or through it, I could
never quite tell which, the Master would emerge and walk toward me,
carefully avoiding the flowers as He moved slowly along.
The pattern of these dreams changed promptly with the
pattern of my life. The peaceful garden through which the Master
strolled under Judean stars and dew-freshened dawns, became a
merciless jungle filled with gun-toting enemies, emissaries of the
law, all bent upon my capture.
In rapid succession of events, I would envision myself
under arrest, of being tried in court and convicted. I would hear
the grim verdict read and listen to the terrifying pronouncement of
sentence. I could experience all the agony of suspense that
stretched between the day of sentence pronouncement and the day of
its execution. Sometimes 1 would see myself being escorted to the
scaffold or the electric chair behind a dour-faced individual
mumbling gloomy prayers for the safe journey of my sin-tainted soul.
Very often I would reach the lethal monster and feel the black cap
being drawn over my face, like a fiendish bandage, or the straps
being adjusted to my legs. But invariably I would wake in the nick
of time, trembling, sweating, exhausted.
I've passed through the hot pits of many tortures, but none
to compare to these subconscious hours where deferred judgment
assumed all the hideous aspects of actuality.
That they were prophetic dreams I have no doubt. Criminal
activities always lead toward the commission of murder and murder
toward the executioner. And yet the fear of these sinister prospects
was not sufficient to alter the course of my criminal tendencies. In
fact, neither fear of punishment nor persuasion, kind treatment or
brutal, had any effect on the type of life I preferred to live.
During my many years in prison I was the object of a great
deal of well-intentioned kindness, as well as harshness. Different
social workers tried to influence my attitude. These good people
were called sobsters in the prison vernacular. We used to vie with
each other for their gifts and favors, and whatever influence,
political, they might bring to bear upon parole-boards in our
behalf. But always their advice was an extremely obnoxious service
which we assumed to relish, lest we forfeit the opportunity of using
our advisers toward other ends.
Sometimes they would come to the prison chapel and make
sentimental speeches, exhorting us to put on the raiment of
reformation. And we would appear to be moved by their soul-stirring
appeals, even to the shedding of realistic tears. Then when the
ringing call would come for us to resolve to lead new lives, our
hands would go up in eager unison, a gesture that was supposed to
pledge our souls and minds to the straight and narrow path ever
They would leave the prison burning with the enthusiasm
mighty things accomplished for the Cause. But if the could have
heard our remarks following their departure I'm afraid they never
again would have had the courage to face a prison audience.
These good but misinformed souls would spend much time and
money in the prison crusades, and I suppose the still do so, but so
far as my own experience can reach, I've never known a man who was
reformed because of their well-intentioned efforts. Personally I
am convinced that a man changes his life pattern only when he
himself is definitely ready for such a change. And that until he is
ready, no pressure, reason or persuasion on earth can influence him
one iota. I am convinced, also, that reform is wholly a matter of
transcending old desires and habits of life, and not the suppression
of them through fears and other forces of the will. No man can claim
to be reformed who is still in conflict with the old habits of his
life. So long as such habits are not risen above a relapse into them
is constantly an imminent possibility.
But in spite of what I've found to be true in my own
experience, I would not presume to set my findings up as a
criterion. I have no desire to discredit or discourage the
activities of prison social workers. Nor would I wish to discredit
or discourage those engaged in the field of juvenile delinquency
because of what I have experienced as a juvenile delinquent myself.
It is important nevertheless, that I be honest in presenting my
early attitude and conclusions as a youthful outlaw.
Naturally I came in contact with all the reform movements
that were active at that time. If they taught me anything it was
sharpness of wit. I soon learned that through these movements I
could escape the consequences of much of my wrongdoing. I became an
artful maker of promises and a skillful creator of lies. These I
would trade for immunity whenever it could be done.
Quite often I was made the object for scientific study and
treatment. These laboratory adventures, instead of helping me,
served only to furnish another excuse for carrying on against
whatever restrictive conscience I had left. They made me conscious
of my difference from other kids. I was what I was because it had to
be that way. I was born with a quirk in my brain. I wasn't my fault
at all. Crime was just something that belonged to me; and any act I
performed no matter how vicious was merely an expression of my
And later when the power of reason began to assert itself,
I developed a cynical attitude toward all reform movements, I became
skeptical of their motives, and even while I took every advantage of
their influence, I resented their patronizing sentimentalism; their
self righteousness; and particularly was I embittered by all
psychiatrical attempts to dissect, analyze and label me in the
manner of some queer zoological specimen.
Out of this resentment and bitterness grew the most
deadly philosophy in the world. I call it convict philosophy. It
contains the whitest logic ever conceived in the brains of men. It
batters down every sham behind which people hide their weaknesses.
It tears at all personal inconsistencies with tiger-like fangs. It
makes all men, women and children criminals at heart; gives every
one the impulse to kill, steal and ravage. To the criminal in prison
it distinguishes but one difference between him and the person
outside of prison, and that difference is enunciated with a sardonic
sneer. The one is in, the other is out. That is all. A stone wall
makes the only difference.
The danger of this philosophy lies in its very truth,
for potentially and actually all men and women have come short of
The philosophy, also, has it self-condemnatory side. The
criminal on the inside arraigns himself brutally for being fool
enough to get caught in a trap others skillfully evade. After he is
in for awhile he begins to see a hundred ways by which he might have
escaped punishment. And he resolves thereupon never to make the same
mistake again. And in this respect, at least, he leaves prison with
good intentions, according to his own code.
All in all, the only positive thing that can be said about
convict philosophy is that it is positively deadly to the man who
entertains it. One who is inoculated with it is dogmatic to the
point of fanaticism. He cannot be reached by either reason,
punishment or persuasion, because his mind is set as hard as
concrete against every attempt made to change him by those whose
motives he questions. A prison sentence only adds fuel to the fires
of his world-girdling disillusionment. He is a confirmed
fault-finder, an absolute destructionist, and he seldom wakes up
before it is too late to prevent his own physical, mental and moral
During the time I was engaged in the
following experiences-- a period of three years, perhaps, in all-- I
made and preserved certain notes, a few of which I later published
in a short series of brief articles. These together with the
remainder lay fallow in my trunk for many months. Then they were
shown to a friend, a man who had done something along the same line
himself with, as he said, more or less nebulous results. He became
quite interested and urged me to work my notes up in a book form. At
the time I was unable to respond to his suggestions.
He thought that I was obligated to such a task; that I had
no personal right to hide experiences of the kind. I, of course, was
interested in his reason.
Why haven't I a right to keep them? I prompted him.
He thought such a book might be helpful to others. Frankly
my conceit was neither large enough nor my knowledge broad enough to
include this reason. The knowledge I had gained, extremely meager
though it was when compared to what I had failed to gain, had been
sufficient to convince me that one man's experiences could do little
more than stimulate interest in another; that they could not
convince another of the efficacy in applying abstract principle to
practical problems by merely reading about such experiences.
That is a great service in itself, he said, to
stimulate, to encourage others to think for themselves and then
apply their thinking to their own problems.
In his inimitably enthusiastic manner, he referred to me as
one who had conquered an inferno. He said my methods had been
practical and my accomplishments so obvious that merely to read of
them would prove an inspiration to many with similarly difficult
In other words, I smiled at his fervour, the world is in
need of a brand new Messiah and you've picked on me for the job.
To my surprise and amazement he nodded his head. My smile
became a hearty laugh. I the new Messiah! I whose numerous names
adorned every police blotter in the country ! I whose picture could
be found in all the rogues' galleries, and whose measurements were
tucked away in every bureau of criminal identification! I who had
just recently emerged from a prison cell to point the way for honest
folks to follow! I a burned-out burglar taking up the exemplary task
of teaching ethics!
It isn't so absurd, he said dryly. There's been some
pretty good men in prison cells, and there's been some pretty good
things come out of prison. As I see it, it isn't that you were in
prison that counts at all: it's what you did there that might be of
help to some one else that really matters.
The upshot of it was that this friend convinced me finally
that such a book might truly have some value as a contribution to
human encouragement, if nothing else.
Certainly I approach the task humbly. My hope is that some
of those in whose hands the book might fall will be moved to try the
simple principles in their problems as I have been privileged to try
them with highly beneficial results.
Throughout these pages I offer no false claims. There isn't
a thing new or original between these book ends. In presenting what
is as old as the universe itself, I haven't even the claim of an
original literary style, whatever such a thing might be. I deal
wholly in the obvious; but it is an obvious that for many years I
refused to see, even to deny, and to continue to deny its presence
until the scorching fires of prison hell had welded it into my soul.
I am not an author by any means. I am not even a very well
educated person, having had practically no formal schooling. I am
just a common ordinary human being who had to be taught horse-sense
the hard way: by strong-arm methods.
The simple methods I have used were here with Adam. Many
have used them before me. Many will use them after I've shuffled
through the last dark door. All knowledge is a common property that
may be appropriated, thank God, by those who need it and wish it.
Knowledge is the one thing in existence selfish greed has failed to
put a fence around and post with No Trespassing signs. Too, any
intelligent person can do far more with a little knowledge than I
have been able to do, for I am neither intelligent nor keenly
receptive to the finer shades of wisdom and understanding.
As a plain matter of fact, I am handicapped with an
overabundance of that sort of peace and contentment not attracted
toward the ends of vigorous ambition. I am what some call a
confirmed homebody. I'm satisfied with simple things: my books, my
meditations, my thoroughly harmonious home, my club, my friends.
I've entered the calm after the storm and I find it pleasant.
So far I've tried to use the creative principle with great
determination only in the hard pinches; and if by recounting a few
of these some of you are enabled to take another reef in your own
flagging determinations, I'll consider my feeble effort repaid with
multiple compound interest.
For about twenty years I used to engage in a
most idiotic pastime. Like most criminals I had not yet discovered
humour, so I took this pastime very seriously. I claimed as my pet
aversion ignorance in everybody else, except of course, in myself.
And since I had not discovered humour, my voice was raised in
bellowing proportion against one particular form of ignorance. It
goes without saying, I made a fool and a nuisance of myself. One of
my most imposing defiance against this particular shade of
ignorance, was a declaration of denial.
If there's a God, I would roar heroically in the presence
of some one whom I knew to entertain religious beliefs, then let
Him prove Himself by striking me dead.
Once I made the silly remark in the company of a sardonic:
old safe-blower, who replied laconically: God don't strike fools
dead. He throws 'em a rope.
The droll remark came back to me when I had just about let
out enough rope with which to hang myself.
I started out by hating God and wound up by hating
everything, including my own infallible wisdom. I was a little
too wise in those days to know anything about the psychology of hate
and all other forms of negation. For example, I didn't know that
hate could disturb the digestive and assimilative system to the
extent of bringing on attacks of indigestion and constipation,
sluggish blood circulation, and many other conditioning reflexes of
the mind and body. I went right on suffering them all and hating.
Besides it was popular in the circle in which I moved to evince the
rebel spirit by hating all things sacred and decent.
I took great pride criticizing everything that did not
conform to an attitude of destruction. As for human life, I held it
in contempt. Nothing was cheaper, and nothing was so worthy to be
Consequently, being a criminal, and being so poor a
criminal as to carry around with me a whole pack of defeatist's
philosophy, I spent the greater portion of my time behind iron bars.
Now short terms in prison are not such terrifying
experiences as most people imagine them to be. They terrify the
beginner for awhile, but he soon becomes adjusted and settles down
to make the best of things. It is the long prison terms that make of
prisons a living death-house. When it's all said and done, there is
just one punishment inflicted by prison incarceration, and that
falls upon the long-termers. But this one punishment is sufficient
to defeat any purpose the prison system might hold in the way of
correcting criminal tendencies or eradicating a criminal causes.
There is no normal outlet, physically, for the most purely
animal dynamic force in existence; no normal way to gratify re most
maddening hunger that ever gripped the human side of man ; no way to
turn the procreative impulse into normal human channels of
expression. No way, that is, that prisoners have discovered, save a
remarkably few. Only a very few have been able to sublimate this
energy and turn it into useful purposes.
The usual attempted way, the vicarious way, and it
represents all the ways possible to imagine, instead of gratifying
the hunger only adds to it. Men and women in prison sacrifice
themselves mentally, morally and physically to this relentless
appetite without avail. Their sacrifices lead only to disgust with
themselves; and occasionally it carries them on to a padded cell.
Otherwise, they are eventually released with the hope they
are now purged of their pernicious tendencies. Such a hope is tragic
in its pathetic disappointment. Wardens know it. All prison
officials know it. But society doesn't know, because society would
rather pay the bill, perhaps, than take an interest in such sordid
facts. Such conditions do not and cannot prove beneficial to the
social system. At any rate, such is my opinion. I'm willing to leave
the matter in the hands of sociological students. So I'll go no
farther into it here. I may even be wrong. It may be that these poor
demoralized objects of an experimental penal age, are an asset to
society. I prefer to think otherwise.
As I said before, the deputy warden came every morning to
the door of my dungeon cell, tempting me to confess and go free. I
held out doggedly for weeks. Emaciated and filthy, I was many times
tempted to crawl to the door and accede to his wishes, but I always
managed to steel my will against the course. As time went on the
torture of starvation became less noticeable and less painful. Too,
I felt myself gradually becoming inured to the cold. It seemed that
my life was running out into a sort of dull, insensate chaos. Mine
was a case of stubborn will versus the law of self preservation,
with the former showing every indication of complete victory.
Why such a thought flashed across my mind I don't know-- it
had been years since I'd had a constructive thought-- but there came
to my soggy brain about this time a thought of wonderment. I
wondered where such determination of will would end if it was
directed differently, if it was turned toward a purpose of
intelligent self interest.
There followed a period of mild, dreamy delirium in which I
seemed to exist half awake and half asleep. For awhile the content
of these dreams was like a confused and pointless riddle. They had
no beginning and no end; but drifted and drifted and drifted through
my head without continuity or consistency. As I grew weaker,
however, they appeared to take on more definite outlines, to become
more rational, more vivid and meaningful.
And then one day there occurred in my dream the man whom
I'd been trying to hate for years, Jesus the Christ.
He appeared in a garden in every way similar to the one I
had seen Him in as a child. His physical appearance was also
similar. The whole picture had that quiet clarity about it that
draws out thematic details of expression, of feeling, of thought, of
purpose. He came towards me, His lips moving as though in prayer. He
stopped near me eventually and stood looking down. I had never seen
such love in human eye; I had never felt so utterly enveloped in
love. I seemed to know consciously that I had seen and felt
something that would influence my life throughout all eternity.
Presently, He began slowly to fade in the manner of some
casual process of dematerialization. Out of what had been a vision
of Him there emerged a vision of the word Love in large gossamer
irregular letters, which remained a moment, and then as He had done,
Following this particular dream I lay for a long time
enveloped in a keen sense of awareness. Even though the visual
aspects of the dream had disappeared, its quality lingered. It
seemed to have become a part of me. Where I had been the recipient
of the Master's love, I now felt myself exuding love. It seemed to
pour from me in the form of some mighty sense of blissful gratitude,
not for any one thing or things, but for all things, for life. I had
no discernment or consciousness apart from this enchantment of
universal love. I seemed to have escaped from all the personal
bodily and environmental limitations that had hitherto tortured me.
I was not aware of dungeon walls, but my thoughts seemed to roam
afar both in space and time. (In fact, neither time nor space
appeared to have definition or the modification of boundary lines).
And later I became aware of still another sense of
freedom. What I had always thought to be imagination, occurred to me
as reality. While I visited places undoubtedly historical but
ancient, I experienced no difficulty in adjusting myself to the
modes and customs of these places. I seemed to possess infinite
versatility, readily speaking the language or dialect of the various
peoples of these places, and to be perfectly familiar with their
laws, their religious beliefs, their government policies, their art
and literature. In the reading of the latter, I seemed to possess an
amazing proficiency. I read manuscripts and books by pages at a
glance with an accuracy that was unerring.
By and by I became aware of my actual whereabouts, but not
in the same sense I had been aware of it before. There was no
sensibility of discomfort attached to the dungeon now, no feeling of
bitterness or stubbornness. The place seemed to radiate with a
wholly congenial and alluring atmosphere. My imagination appeared to
function in an acute and consistently pleasurable manner.
I would experiment with the barren cell, reappointing it to
fit the convenience of special guests, which I would later invite.
Always these were men of wisdom, and always the dominating subjects
discussed by them were subjects of life, and truth.
It was at these imaginary symposiums that I first heard of
the creative principle, of the media of love, discussed in an
analytical manner, which later, applied, not only opened my dungeon
door without an overture on my part, but opened In trying to
describe this state of temporary being, I'm not I desirous of being
drawn into controversy about its causes or its scientific qualities
or its lack of them. I am merely describing what occurred, its
effect upon my future conduct and behavior, and what I was enabled
to do with the knowledge I had gained in this manner. Nor do I wish
to leave any egotistical impressions on the minds of my readers. I
was lifted into this state through no conscious efforts of my own.
It came to me unbidden, unsought. It was a gift to a man who, from
the human standpoint, had rendered himself unworthy of human
consideration. That it was an act of Providence I've never doubted.
Why or for what purpose, I've been able only to guess. Left to my
own devices my body soon would have been destroyed. I was doing all
in my power to bring about that finale, and certainly the time for
it was dangerously close at hand.
From the moment I was drawn into the state, unusual things
began to happen. The prison doctor stopped at my door for the
first time to inquire after my health, and to linger at my door and
talk. He came three times in that one day, eager to do something for
me in his professional capacity. Courteous and kind, he pressed me
again and again for a different answer in regard to my health, and
seemed bewildered when I re-affirmed the fact that I had never felt
better than I did at the moment.
The keeper of the dungeon, a man who had taken a violent
dislike for me from the start, came to my door with gracious words
on his lips. I had hated him and now I loved him. He offered to
disobey the rules and smuggle in a sandwich from the officers'
dining-room if I'd only say the word. I thanked him, but explained
that I was not in the least hungry. He went away shaking his head.
But during this period the deputy warden, who had been
making regular daily visits to my door, suddenly stopped coming.
Often I thought of him with an all-consuming compassion. I believe
it was on the third day that he opened my door and said, Well,
buddy, I think you've had enough. You can go over to the hospital
and clean up and rest for awhile.
A few days later I received a complete new outfit of
clothing and was assigned a new and easier job in the prison shirt
LOVE VERSUS PRISON DOOR OF SELF
from the book titled Love Can Open Prison
by Starr Daily
conquerors! For so you are
Who war against your
And the huge army of
the world's desires,
We of today recognize the great English
playwright's genius, but what was taken for wisdom in his day we've
found to be false in ours.
We know now that war in any form has never solved a human
problem. We know that to declare a state of war between us and our
desires does not eradicate those desires, but rather intensifies
them in proportion as our war-like wills appear victorious and
When I came out of the dungeon and had again resumed my
routine duties, I was in possession of an idea that had worked a
seeming miracle in my behalf. But while I had a recognition of this
idea, I did not have the sense of illumination, the feeling of
ecstasy that had been born to me as a result of it there. Too,
although I realized the idea to be a medium through which I could
contact creative power, I didn't know how to go about applying the
medium to my problems now.
These problems were many and life-long duration. They began
immediately to present themselves to me for consideration the same
day I had my release from punishment; for that day there was
established in me an intense desire for a new deal of livingness.
Therefore, I sat down one evening to list my mental, moral
and physical assets and liabilities. I discovered that I had
shelter, food and clothing, such as they were. I was able to read,
write and cipher a little. Against these things the list of my
liabilities ran into interminable lengths.
The problem appeared simple under such circumstances. I
would simply start from scratch, and declare war on my physical ill
health, replace my negative attitude with a positive attitude,
substitute optimism for pessimism, and presto, all would be
The thoughtful reader, however, will see that I had set a
mighty big order for myself. In fact, what I desired to accomplish
meant a complete right-about-face from all the destructive habits I
had acquired and nurtured through the years. My intention was to go
to war against them and slay them in one fell blow with the rapier
of my will. My intentions were excellent; however, I hadn't reckoned
on the strength of the enemy. My effort, though heroic, was
short-lived and ended in dismal and mind-tormenting failure.
The more I tried to war against my habits, the more
persistently they pressed their claims upon me. I grew melancholy
under the strain. A sense of weakness and hopelessness took hold of
me, which defied constructive thinking, which defied thinking of any
kind, except thoughts of impotence and misery.
The desire for the things I had lived became more and more
intense, until reason warned me that a compromise would have to be
made, and compromise was the first step to failure. From it the
plunge back down would be swift and certain.
But the worst of all, my health instead of improving under
the ordeal, took an opposite turn. I soon learned that willpower
was one thing, and that to use it constructively against life-long
habits was another.
It seemed that all the legions of hell had turned out to
concentrate their fire upon me alone. If I decided to miss a meal
out of regard for my health, that particular meal would be certain
to contain seldom-served items that I especially liked. Every time I
picked up a magazine or newspaper, I would be sure to find some
brilliant, logical attack up on the virtues I had set before me.
Things occurred that I had never known to occur before to test my
resolve. For instance, I had been an inveterate user of profanity.
And being profane, I had not noticed it being used by others so
much. But no sooner had I resolved to stop its use, I began to
notice that every one seemed to use it. Books that contained it were
thrust in my way. An essay by a popular author on the use of
profanity was given to me. The author argued that those who did not
curse had no strength of character. Men who couldn't say damn once
in a while had lost all claim to masculinity. They were unpardonable
sissies; and he clinched his argument with a long list of leaders in
American history, including the father of his country, who had
cursed their way to fame and victory over insurmountable odds.
Profanity was a vigorous mode of expression that fitted perfectly
into all occasions requiring force and vigor.
I had a habit of chewing tobacco, which, for me in prison,
had been an expensive one to gratify. To obtain chewing tobacco had
been a constant struggle. But now that I had resolved to give the
habit up, the weed was forced upon me from all manner of sources
without one single effort on my part to acquire it.
My strongest mental habit had been intolerance of other
persons' opinions, which had, all my life, kept me in hot water,
fights and squabbles. Of course, this habit headed my list. I
determined I would look at the other fellow's viewpoint and respect
it even if I couldn't agree with it. I would refuse to argue with
anyone, taking the stand that fools argued and wise men discussed.
But again this good intention was easier resolved than carried out.
It seemed that those with whom I came in contact would be pacified
with nothing short of hot words. And the more I tried to force my
resolution by sheer will-power the more easily irritated I seemed to
I had always thought I possessed courage. I had no fear of
physical pain. I had been clubbed by policemen into states of
insensibility. I had faced death many times while pulling off
burglaries; I would fight any man at the drop of a hat. Then one
day, after I had made my resolution to be broad and tolerant, a
fellow told me I was yellow; that I didn't know what courage was. I
was on my feet in an instant. But I steeled myself, gulped down the
old impulse to do battle, and listened while he brutally continued
I'll tell you what courage is, he said. You've never
known what the word meant. Everybody in this joint knows you've
always been hard-boiled. You've preached tooth and fang sermons
around here for years. Now you've decided you were all wet and
wrong. You've gone wishy-washy. All right, if you've got courage
you'll go up on the chapel platform the next day we have open forum
and tell all your old friends all about it. Preach us a sermon about
your grand and glorious reformation. That'll take the kind of
courage you ain't got.
Strangely enough I hadn't thought of that particular kind
of courage before. But now I realized that bullets and blackjacks
were easier to face than the ridicule of one's cynical fellows en
masse. As I pondered on such a predicament, I could visualize an
audience of sneering faces; I could hear their cat-calls and boos ;
their hisses, and their innuendoes of turn-tail, yaller-cur,
long-tailed rat, and a hundred other savage aspersions.
I didn't have the courage to face a thing of this kind, but
I forced my will to accept the challenge. I made a prepared talk and
committed it to memory. Then I sent my name and desire to the open
forum director. I lived a million years of emotional agony between
that day and the day I was billed to speak. When the day finally
came I was almost a complete invalid. As I sat on the platform
trying to pretend poise as the lines filed into the auditorium, the
pit of my stomach was churning like a ball of red-hot vacuum without
a mooring. As I was being introduced, a wave of nausea swept over me
and I began to tremble from head to feet. As I rose, I was met with
a roar of ridicule; tide after tide of it broke over me as I stood
there waiting for it to subside. I felt as though I was losing
consciousness. Then came a dead hush, in which I imagined one might
hear a feather fall above the mad pumping of my heart. I started out
to speak; my lips quivered open, but not a syllable issued forth. If
ever self styled hero made an inglorious retreat that hero was me. I
slunk from the auditorium amid the wildest surge of abuse I've ever
heard before or since. Right there and then I decided to scuttle all
my fine resolutions. But Providence once more came to my rescue,
this time in a wholly different manner.
I was to occupy that same platform many times after this
frightful fizzle. I was to debate my newfound philosophy of
behavior with some of the most brilliant forum minds. I was to hear
cheers and applause, where I had once heard only sneers and guffaws.
But I didn't achieve these things by the war process against my
habits and weaknesses. I achieved then not by trying new habits
that transcended the old. To war against a thing is to hate that
thing. To sublimate a condition is to employ the medium of love. The
one compresses the condition into a more intensified circumference,
the other expands it until it has no circumference left.
It so happened, and how fortunate it was for me, that just
after I reached this crisis, I was transferred to a different cell!
The man with whom I was to share this latter cell was a life-termer
well along in years.
His name was Dad Trueblood, but he was often referred to as
The Old Stir Bug. Ordinarily this name was applied in an
uncharitable sense to those prisoners who had attracted it through
odd or queer quirks in their mental characters. But in the case of
Dad Trueblood it was untouched by the critical or opprobrious. For
this old fellow was the most beloved man who had ever done time in
this particular prison. He was loved by both prisoners and officials
alike, a combination rarely found behind stone walls.
Dad was one of those exceptional persons the most chary
could trust; one of those singular individuals who, without uttering
a word, broke down the strongest restraint in others and set them to
blabbing their troubles in his ear as naively as a child goes
running with its troubles to its mother. He was one of those
occasional men who could win another's confidence without effort,
and with just as little effort keep that confidence strictly
Had Dad wished to turn informer, he could have sent scores
of his confidants to longer prison terms, and many to the electric
chair. But Dad was not an informer, and although this prison, like
all other prisons, was managed after the stool-pigeon system, no
official ever thought of offending Dad's sensibilities by offering
him special privileges in return for tainted favors.
The odd twist that gave Dad the name Stir Bug occurred
because he had refused a pardon after having served twenty-seven
years. His reason for such an unheard-of act was strange and yet
wholly consistent with his character. When the warden asked him why
he preferred to remain voluntarily in prison, he said that he was
getting old; that he no longer had any friends or relatives on the
outside; and that he thought he could be of more service in prison
But don't you want your freedom? the warden had asked
I'm always free,'' the old lifer had replied. It
doesn't make any difference where you are on the face of the earth,
warden. If your thoughts are free you're free. And there's no one
can imprison your thoughts but yourself.
And so Dad Trueblood had been permitted the privilege of
remaining a number instead of going out and once more becoming a
When I moved my belongings into his cell he was lying on
his bunk. He welcomed me casually in a friendly manner. He knew, of
course, of my reputation as a bad actor. There were few words passed
between us until we had been locked in for the evening. Then I asked
him if he dad seen my fade-away in the chapel. Yes, he had been
there that day. He thought most any one else would hade done
likewise under similar circumstances. But he asked no curious
questions about it.
Finally, I related my experience in the dungeon; and of my
desires after coming out; of terrific willpower battle to overcome
my old habits; of my pitiful failure to do anything in that
direction. But after that chapel deal, I finished, I got wise to
myself in a jiffy.
How do you mean? he asked in an off-hand way.
I mean this virtue stuff is all the bunk, I said.
Then what does that make the other stuff? The stuff you've
been living before ?
There are some pretty wise men who have taken the gold out
of the Golden Rule, and have made that rule look pretty small, at
least on paper, I replied evasively.
That doesn't seem important, son, in your case, Dad said.
You've been following another rule. The important thing is, what
has it got you? Critics and logicians deal with the trees in a
forest, without ever seeing the forest itself. That's what you
should be looking at now -- not the too logical details, not what
the other fellow has done with your old philosophy, but what you
have done with it. If you're satisfied with the results, then your
rule has worked out, if not, then the sensible thing to do is to
stick to your guns and try another way.
But I've tried that and failed, I said hopelessly.
No, you haven't, he said, you've just gone at it wrong.
For instance, if you wanted to become a cannibal right quick, where
before you'd only been a moderate eater of meat, why just force
yourself to break off with meat by using your will and nothing else.
No, son, the easiest and safest way to rid yourself of many bad
habits is to recondition yourself to one good habit. Once you have
it established, the others will have disappeared without much
What he did was to show me how to apply the idea I had
discovered in solitary confinement, or rather the idea that had been
discovered for me, and turned to my account in spite of me.
First I was to forget all about my notion of going to war
with my habits. I was just to assume that nothing had happened to
me; that my attitude was the same as it had always been; that I was
not to make any attempt to force a change in my custom of living;
but that whenever and wherever I could do it without strain or
pressure, to do something constructively creative; a quiet thought,
an encouraging word to some one at the right time, a stimulating
hint to another, a constructive action, either selfish or unselfish.
I was to read, as I had always read, books that appealed to
the negative side of my life. But as I read I was to try to build in
something positive between the lines, whenever I could appear to do
it without too much labor.
Make it a game, son, he said, and not a task. Let it
be a challenge but not a command.
Guided safely by the unerring knowledge Dad had of
sublimation, I entered into the spirit of the game and found it not
only profitable but pleasurable. It was accepted as a novelty, a
plaything, something, with which to while away the time; and the joy
of which depended upon the game itself, and not upon the results to
During the day at my machine I made a game of sewing
garments. Each one I finished had in it an effort to make it better
than its predecessor. This part of the game alone relieved me
entirely of the burden my labor had always had for me before. As a I
continued to play it, I soon found it becoming a fascinating habit.
Time that had always dragged heavily with each begrudging stitch,
now flew by on wings of tirelessness. I won privileges on my
workmanship, and many compliments from the superintendent of the
shop. But the surprising thing about it all was that I not only made
better garments, but I was able to complete my task in much less
time than when I had been fighting the sewing machine every minute
and turning out slipshod material; where I had been constantly
jerking at my cloth and breaking my thread, thus wasting time
rethreading my needle, I now worked more smoothly and
consequently with little lost motion. One of my best games was
to see how many completed garments I could make without an
accidental breaking of my thread. On several occasions I finished
the whole task, twelve garments, without a mishap.
This game was taken up by those around me, and eventually
spread over the entire shop. The superintendent was amazed at the
results. He made it a competitive game and offered prizes for the
winners. Not only were the garments made better; but there was a
great saving accomplished by eliminating wastage, garments too
hastily thrown together that later had to be discarded and new ones
made to replace them.
And all the while I would be working away at my task, I
also played a game with my thoughts. I would analyze them as they
drifted through my mind. I would label each as it came along. If it
was destructive, I would counter with a constructive one
deliberately created for the purpose, and vice versa. As I continued
to play, I soon became conscious of a subtle, but definite drawing
away of the destructive thoughts. The constructive ones came more
and more unbidden, until finally I was aware that whole sequences of
them would pass through my mind without being broken by one
negation. Too, I found it becoming increasingly repugnant to
deliberately create a destructive thought to carry out my game of
Then when my task had been completed, I hatched up another
game. I called it the game of constructive deeds. Each day I tried
to increase the number of little unobtrusive things I could do for
my fellows. I would hold loving thoughts toward men who had
always been my avowed enemies. Many of them I had bloody encounters
with and hadn't spoken to since. Without fitting any other action to
these thoughts, I watched and waited, and in every case was rewarded
by seeing the iceberg melt that had stood between us, and it wasn't
long until I had no enemies left.
This game by itself did something psychic to me. I didn't
know what it was at the time. But it was an expanding something that
drew men closer to me, even while I drew farther away from the life
or the type of livingness they stood for. I didn't know why men
distrusted the pious and self righteous sort of comradeship and
fellowship; nor exactly what the difference was between that sort
and the sort that I was expressing; but I knew there was a
difference because the results were different. What that difference
was didn't seem to matter. I was becoming more and more
result-conscious, and this in itself was an excellent sign.
And then at night in my cell I would take up a book that I
had always looked upon as my Bible. It was Schopenhauer's Studies in
Pessimism. With this book I now made another fascinating game. I
went through it thought for thought, translating it in long-hand on
pieces of wrapping paper. My translation of the title was Studies In
Positiveness. For each negative thought given by the author, I wrote
down its best positive opposite.
Nor did one of the author's negations defy translation,
indeed I invariably found many positive thoughts in one of his
negative ones, from which I would choose the strongest. Sometimes it
took me an entire evening to get over one page; other times I would
do as many as five pages. Only once did I ask Dad to help me, and
then he shook his wise old head.
Solitaire is a one man game, he said, and you're doing
fine. Keep right after it until you win on your own efforts.
That enormous bundle of manuscript was destroyed. I've
often wished I had preserved it. There was a certain sentiment
attached to it, I suppose. It was something tangible that stood for
something much greater, though intangible, the beginning of a slow
but steady bulge upward. But after all, though the manuscript was
destroyed, its effect on me is still alive and will remain so until
the end of my days. The effects of constructive building are
eternal: destructive building leads to limitation and death. But of
all my early games with the implements of life, I believe this one,
in its cumulative results, had the greatest influence for good.
The translating of this book gave me an
intense interest m the positive side of life. It led me smoothly
into an examination of the Old and New Scriptures, and of other
literature that stressed the positive along with the negative in
However, in this prison at that time, true positive
literature was a scarce article. One day I picked up a magazine of
the kind that had been nearly worn out from much reading and had
been discarded by its last reader. With great enthusiasm, I went
through it from cover to cover. When I had finished I decided I
would have a friend subscribe for it in my name and number.
The subscription was entered and I waited eagerly for my
first copy. I waited several weeks. Then I had my friend write the
publisher to find out about the delay. A reply informed me that the
magazine, along with other printed matter from the same publisher,
had been coming to me regularly. A little private investigation
turned up the information that our chaplain, who was also our
literary censor, had disapproved of the reading material presented
through this publishing house.
My first impulse was to fly into a good old-fashioned fit
of rebellion and write the chaplain a vituperative note of
denunciation. In fact I did talk to Dad in no uncertain terms as to
what I thought of a chaplain who would permit every deadening and
salacious book and magazine printed to come in to us, and then set
his objection on a magazine that didn't carry a single article or
item not calculated to lift the consciousness of its readers.
The old man listened patiently until I had spent myself.
Then he said: All true, and heroically put, son. It's pleasing to
unburden ourselves sometimes of what has all the earmarks of
justifiable indignation. But the trouble with it in this case is
that it only makes bad matters worse. Remember the little game
you're playing ? Well, it's a broad game. Any situation can be
fitted into it. But not with hate and criticism; that is, if you
expect to win.
But how in this case? I asked him.
How did you break down enmity over in the shop? He said
no more. But his suggestion was enough.
I set about to formulate a new game around the chaplain.
First I studied him and got to the bottom of his reasons for
withholding my literature. I couldn't agree with those reasons. They
seemed narrow and unreasonable to me. But I did grant him the right
to entertain them, even though they had appearance of injury to me.
I told myself that since the material printed in this magazine was
in conflict with the religious creed held by the chaplain he was
actuated by that consideration alone, and that he was honestly
sincere in his belief that such reading matter would do harm to
those who read it.
As I reasoned thus, I could not help but feel sorry for
a man laboring under such rigid limitations. And this emotion,
although it is not true love, is mighty close to compassion. At any
rate, I soon found myself creating genuinely loving thoughts toward
my censor. I began visualizing him as I thought the Master might
visualize him. And the more I played at the game the more I thought
of him as an EXPRESSION OF GOD and the less I thought of him as an
expression of limitation.
Besides, I found a way of doing a few little services for
him without his finding out who did them. For instance, I pointed
out to my warder that three sun-shades would greatly improve the
looks of the administration building. The warder agreed with me and
said he would point the same thing out to the warden. As a result I
was permitted to make the shades as well as the pattern. I made them
as attractive as I possibly could; and they did improve the looks of
that part of the building. But the one most pleased with the
innovation was the chaplin, because it was the windows to his study
they shaded against the afternoon sun.
On another occasion I was able to acquire a red-lettered
student's Bible, a beautiful book, and have it placed on the
chaplin's desk in his absence. On the first flyleaf I had written,
With the compliments of a friend.
In the meantime I spoke no word to him. I attended his
services and found him saying things that were illuminating and
admirable -- thing that I had formerly closed my mind against with a
door of indifference and prejudice. With this door now opened the
effect was exhilarating. I seemed to lose all interest in his human
faults and shortcoming, particularly as they affected me. I began to
think of him in terms of brotherly love and to feel what I thought
Then one noon day he came down the gallery and stopped in
front of our cell. He carried under his arm several magazines and
pamphlets that had been sent to me. He told me that he had seen fit
to censor them because they dealt with pantheism; [the doctrine
identifying God with the various forces and workings of nature] a
dangerous doctrine. Recently, however, he had changed his mind and
decided to allow me to have books, providing I would promise not to
pass them on to others. I made no such promise; nor did he seem
insistent on that point. I thanked him, and we talked for quite some
time in a real get-acquainted fashion, and a friendship was there
established between us that was active until the day I bade him
This demonstration, and it was a demonstration, of the
power of love to use creative principle effectively against adverse
conditions, not only helped me in this particular, but it helped
scores of my fellows, because shortly after it the chaplain lifted
his ban on the literature of this publishing house and this prison
became one among many into which this house sent free reading matter
to the inmates.
Obviously, love can open prison doors-all manner of
prison doors. But of all the doors most important to open, none is
more important than the door of self. Self conquest through
sublimation is the key to the fullest realm of livingness.
I do not presume to say that I had conquered myself. But I
have traveled a piece of the way, and I am moving in the right
direction. Looking down the list on the liability side of my ledger,
I can see many items that have undergone a process of transformation
and now adorn the side on which I've written down my assets. This
side of my list is longer than the liability side, much longer. Many
little victories have made it so, and each one of those small
victories carried with it its own particular thrill. The game has
been pleasurable and there is still much room for play. My asset
list is only partially complete. I shall probably never complete it
in my remaining lifetime, but I'll have a lot of fun playing the
game to that end.
It will be recalled that at the time my list was made I
suffered from many physical ills. These have all vanished without my
being aware of the reconditioning process. Wholesome, constructive
thinking did the trick, reflecting in my physical organism that
which I held in my mind.
Since that time, and it has been several years, I've
suffered very few physical indispositions. My body converts food
into energy almost instantly now. I follow sane health rules, of
course, for they are constructive and it pays to follow them. With
excellent elimination and excellent assimilation, I am no longer a
sufferer of that powerful physical enemy of man, inertia.
[resistance to change]. I can work long hours without feeling
fatigue. I can induce sleep within a moment and rest, perfectly
relaxed for six hours, undisturbed by dreams or noise. All of which
is something. Or at least to me it has been worth gaining,
especially since the method used to gain it was a joy in itself.
Cheerfulness to me now is a habit I seldom feel moved to break.
Those long periods of hopelessness, indecision, worry, fear and
lassitude are all over.
My greatest joy is obtained from playing my little game
of deeds, of finding something I can do for others in a helpful
constructive way. And although the joy is found in the doing,
somehow these services have never failed to return good for good, in
the same coin, only with multiplied interest, in the manner they
were sent out.
As one of numerous instances of this kind, the case of Paul
Harding comes easily to my mind. Paul was one of those many
thoughtful, retiring boys who are frequently misunderstood, even by
members of their own families, and who, as a consequence of this
misunderstanding, often get off on the wrong foot for a start in
When I first knew Paul, I found him striving desperately to
conceal his strong emotional life behind a front of callous
pretense, sophistication, indifference, boredom. His efforts were
pathetic. I saw behind these efforts the soul of a poet. And when I
had broken away his false restraints, he admitted that as long as he
could remember he had wanted to write verse. However, his early
family life had not been conducive to or sympathetic with his
ambition. Instead of constructive praise for his embryonic attempts,
he had received ridicule, and this above all other forms of
discouragement, is positively murder to a sensitive soul.
I promptly responded to his ambition and asked him to let
me see some of his poems. He hadn't written any since he had been in
prison, but with the interest I showed in his ability to do so, he
produced a little poem in his cell that night, and strangely enough
it displayed nothing of his pretense or the effects of his
environment. It was a crude piece. Even I could see that. But the
potential poet was there just the same. The theme of it was
Pollyannaish. I advised him not to show it to any one else ; for I
well knew how it would be received and I also knew what such a
reception would do for him. Instead, I encouraged him and set him to
work writing more of them. And that was about the extent of my
ability to help him. I knew nothing about the technique of
When I told Dad about my predicament he laughed. Well,
you've got your foot in it, he said. So you may just as well get a
book on poetry and learn to write it yourself. That's the only you
can go any farther toward helping the boy.
And that is what I did. Paul and I studied verse-making
together. And by and by we entered into a sort of competitive race.
The idea was to see who would have his first poem published. Paul
beat me with a fine little poem which was printed in his county
newspaper. From then on he was a regular contributor to this paper,
and later, before he left prison, a volume of his poems was brought
Now here is the way I profited through this bit of service.
First, it was great fun. Second, I learned enough about it to be
able to write topical verses and humorous verses, which I sold to
magazines and newspapers under all kinds of names, and with the
money acquired in this way, I was able to employ a lawyer for a
friend who was innocent of the charge against him, a fact which was
fully and completely established when his lawyer obtained a new
trial for him.
This money was later returned by my friend with an
additional sum and was promptly used over again towards the purchase
of a community radio, the first one to be put into this prison for
our sole benefit. And what a boon it was! Especially during the
baseball season when we could get the returns of our favorite team
play by play, instead of having to wait until the next day to read
it all through stale news accounts.
I have said nothing about the real value of this poetry
game as that value affected the life of Paul Harding. Need I say
more than this: he gave up crime for poetry; he has prospered and so
LOVE VERSUS PRISON DOOR OF IGNORANCE
from the book titled Love Can Open Prison
by Starr Daily
A boy is better unborn than untaught.
There is one curse to which nearly all
prisoners are subject, incomplete education or no education at all.
It seems almost inconceivable that only a few years ago a
great institution such as the one in which I was incarcerated could
have been without educational facilities for its wards. But such was
the condition. Not only was it a condition, but it was a condition
enforced by prison law. You were allowed to read such books as the
library afforded; but to be discovered with a pencil or writing
paper in your possession was equivalent to many days in solitary on
bread and water.
One of the reasons institutional education was discouraged
in this prison was because of an inferiority complex on the part of
its officials. Under the prevailing wage scale for officials at that
time, only a brutal and ignorant type of man could be induced to
take these jobs; and these men found a mutual interest in ignorant
prisoners ; but in prisoners superior to them in education, they
found a deep and abiding resentment. They were bitterly opposed to
all forms of learning for prisoners that, by contrast, would tend to
emphasize their own lack of learning. If a prisoner had been
fortunate enough to have had the advantages of an education, he soon
discovered after entering the prison that he was in for hell, unless
he was shrewd enough at the outset to conceal his educational assets
by assuming a pose of ignorance. This was very often resorted to by
Today this same prison has one of the finest educational
systems in operation that has ever been established in any prison.
(or it did have when I left there a few years ago). This school was
functioning in conjunction with many big correspondence schools
throughout the country. After the grades had been passed, the prison
scholar could then avail himself of correspondence school training,
which embraced everything in the way of vocation, and profession,
from the arts and languages to business and the trades. Training was
made compulsory up to the fourth grade; beyond that it was optional
with the prisoner. It was a sight for earnest eyes to go into the
big school room and see old men sitting side by side with youngsters
mastering their A B Cs. And in another section of the room, to see
eager hands trying to gain speed and efficiency on the typewriter;
and in still other sections, to see competent inmate teachers
patiently but effectively instructing their classes in all manner of
I do not say that this school is the finished result of any
of my own efforts; but I can and do say proudly that because I had
learned about the power of love to contact creative principle I was
privileged to furnish the incentive or the nucleus around which the
idea speedily grew.
Imagine if you can, an institution that for almost a
hundred years had been managed on a system that exalted ignorance
and low-rated knowledge. You would say that such a habit of
management, ingrained by a century of unrelieved custom could hardly
be uprooted in the course of a few months. That nevertheless, is
exactly what occurred.
Moreover, a college professor, a man of tremendous ability,
was appointed to organize and superintend the difficult undertaking.
He not only established the school, but he convinced those in power
that a new school library was a necessary adjunct to a school of
this kind, and thus for the first time in the prison's history the
inmates could secure books of real educational value.
Of course, the idea first met with strong opposition both
political and non-political. It required considerable money to
promote and realize an educational institution so broad in scope as
this one. There were those who argued that education, instead of
tending to correct criminals, would tend only to make of them a
greater menace to society. A slow-witted criminal had little chance
against the well organized forces of the law; but a criminal whose
brain had been stimulated and developed through the process of
education would be vastly more competent in the commission of crime.
His imaginative faculties would become broader and more original;
where he had once been dull, he would become clever; his ability to
look ahead would be greatly enhanced, and thus he would be able to
plan his crimes more efficaciously, eliminating the weak spots in
his programme of attack; where he had once blundered into his crimes
blindly, without considering the most important feature in crime
commission, the get-away, he would now be able to reason backward
from a well-planned get-away to the crime's commission, a process of
thought beyond the capacity of an ignorant criminal, but wholly
within the powers of one whose mind had been trained in the
difficult art of coherent, analytical thinking.
Students of penology watched the prison school system with
much interest and speculation. Most of them were in accord with the
movement. Most of them believed that the surest way to convince a
man that crime was a losing game in the long run was to educate him
to the point where he could see and understand this maxim for
himself; and that the best way to create a potential good citizen
out of a potential bad one, was first to arouse within him an
intelligent self interest, and then place before him the means to
cultivate that interest along constructive lines that entailed a
knowledge of good citizenship and a desire to become a good citizen
if for no other reason than the one based upon self preservation,
that it paid to conform to existing social standards, even though to
do so might often prove tedious and unprofitable.
Whether or not this controversy was ever settled I do not
know. But this I do know, in my experience I observed more than a
hundred confirmed criminals who, because of this prison educational
system, left prison to fill honest occupations that had before been
beyond their reach. Nor did I observe one among them who returned to
prison for committing another crime.
It is my honest belief that if it is
possible to reform a person of anti-social tendencies, there is no
surer method to that end in existence than to turn constructively
such a person, through education, away from the old tendencies by
giving him new and more appealing ones to follow. There is a sense
of ought in the most hardened criminal. Ought I to pull this job, or
oughtn't I ? These are the preliminary questions to every crime
committed. And constructive education gives the constructive answer
to them more influence over the individual by making that answer
more reasonable and consequently more appealing. I believe
penology's strongest weapon is education.
In this prison I was the first man ever to be permitted the
unheard-of privilege of taking a correspondence course of study. At
the time I had no idea how far-reaching the results of this
privilege would be. And the warden, who granted me the privilege, of
course established a precedent in doing so, and thus unwittingly let
the bars down for an avalanche of similar requests, which he could
not refuse, and which absolutely snowed him under.
He was bewildered when he called me into his office. I've
made a mistake in letting you have that course, he said. And then
he pointed to a ten-inch stack of requests. They're all the same.
Fellows wanting to order courses. We have no mailing facilities here
for handling so much of this type of stuff. I'm afraid I've got my
foot in it. I didn't know there was such a craze in the world for
education. God only knows how I'll ever get out of it.
I knew, of course, that one of his ideas for getting out
was to backtrack on the original privilege granted me. I had to
think fast in order to forestall this action. So I said:
Warden, here's your chance to contribute a real service to
society. It'll never pass your way again. If you seize the
opportunity now, your name will go down as one of the outstanding
prison executives of the world; but if you let the opportunity slip
you'll pass out with the next change of administration, just another
prison warden who served his time and drew his pay as wardens have
done before him. Why don't you put in a school ? Get a good man in
charge of it and let him handle it in his own way. In that manner
the problem will solve itself so far as you're concerned.
By Jove! he exclaimed. That's an idea. I anticipate a
fight. But I'm ready to go to the bat.
And with that vigorous statement a hastily formulated dream
of mine had its first push forward toward fruition.
When I first thought of asking the warden for the privilege
of taking a course of study, I was fully aware that such a request,
under ordinary circumstances, would he briefly received and flatly
rejected. Dad Trueblood and I talked the matter over, and as always,
Dad had only one method for attacking all problems -- the method
of contacting creative principle through the intermediary of love.
But how am I going to reach the warden ? How am I going to
make my love known to him?
Love, he said, needs no advance agent. When it's
purely conceived and powerfully felt, it will find its objective. It
does not follow you: you follow it. First you love, and then you
You mean I can prepare the warden in advance so that he
will receive my request with favor?
Not you. But love expressing through you will prepare
Without any effort on my part?
None but love. In fact, you need not go about him at
all. Say, that's an inspiration. Instead of you making the request
of the warden, let your friend on the outside do it, by mail.
Contrary to general opinion, it isn't so difficult to
evoke a feeling of love even for one's jailer. You can reason
yourself into this emotion. That is what I did in this case. And it
worked out perfectly.
After all, I said to myself, prisons were a necessary
evil in a civilization that harbored the type of preying animal I
had been. And if prisons were necessary, so were wardens to manage
them. This warden was merely filling an inevitable duty, and if it
wasn't him then it would be someone else. Despite the disagreeable
position he held, he was a man for all that, with the same God-given
spark that I possessed, the same potentialities for good and evil.
We were brothers under the skin. We were both headed in the same
direction, although our paths had not always run parallel. He had
his troubles the same as I. His faults were no worse than mine. In a
word, he, as every mortal born to struggle up through trial and
error, was more entitled to love and understanding than to censure.
Who was I to sit in judgment? Had not the Master of men said, Woman
where are thine accusers? And refused to judge her Himself when He
noted all had slunk away.
In this manner of reasoning one unavoidably comes to the
place where censorship ends, and where censorship ends true love
begins. [Judgement centered in Love is for correction (probation)
not damnation - God's fire is the purging process of bring forth
It took me only a very short while to arouse within me a
deep responsive feeling of love for the warden, and it grew and
grew as I continued to search his inner being for the Christ-like
traits that were the heritage of every human being.
Finally I began to visualize him in all manner of
constructive, humanitarian activities. I saw him courageously doing
the right thing, although he well knew that the right thing was not
the popular thing for him to do. I saw him with my request in his
hand; I sympathized with him when he passed through a wavering
period of indecision; I bowed in inward gratitude when his eyes took
on the light of victory over self and indecision fell away from him
as he determined to do the constructive thing and allow me to have
my course of study.
In the meantime I had written to my friend explaining my
desire and asking her to inform me of the exact hour and date her
letter to the warden was to go forward. In this manner I was able to
arrive at the date and hour the letter would reach the warden's
desk. Through another source I found out the exact time the warden
sat down to examine his mail. And thus at this time I visualized him
with my friend's letter in his hand. As I watched him reading it, I
let my love close in around him until he seemed to be completely
enveloped in it to the exclusion of every other vibratory influence.
[Daily evokes a scripture, not from the reading, but from the
Spirit; calleth those which be not as though they were - Romans
I would not say this was scientific procedure. Some of you
may even laugh it off as being the antics of a simpleton. I wouldn't
presume to state that such an effort on my part had anything to do
with the warden's decision. But I do say that his decision was made
precisely as I wanted him to make it.
Through this course of study I was able to
prepare myself for an honest, constructive future. I left prison at
a time when the depression had just reached its peak, when
competition in the labor market was as great as it ever has become.
It might be that without this preparatory work I could have gone out
in the world and competed successfully with skilled and unskilled
millions. It might be that my prison and criminal record, all that I
possessed in the way of reference, would have offered no handicap to
me in my effort to secure a place in the world of honest endeavor.
But in the event the situation had not panned out in this
manner, which would have been at least quite possible -- what then?
Maud Ballington Booth once wrote a book under the title
After Prison, What ? A man may go out of prison with the very best
of intentions, but if he is unprepared, if he is worse off than when
he entered prison, his intentions are likely to meet with opposition
too strong to be endured. Nothing will so take the starch from an
ex-prisoner's stiff resolutions like rebuff and indifference. As
soon as he becomes thoroughly convinced that he is not wanted, the
step between that point and his old life becomes a mighty easy one
I remember a resolution I once made of the kind as I was
leaving prison after serving my first term. I had been given a
parole. The town I went to on parole had a shoe factory in it, and
by telling a few skillful lies I managed to get a job in this
factory. It was a good job, too. It paid excellent wages on a piece
work basis. And the novelty of earning an honest living had a
certain appeal about it, which I responded to with considerable
In the evening after a good bath and hearty supper I would
stretch out an my bed and declare to myself, By golly, this is not
so bad. There was a definite lift to this business of achieving a
laudable day's work; a decided sense of security about it that was
wholly new and tremendously gratifying. If the thing hadn't happened
that did happen shortly afterwards, I might have, then and there,
reconditioned myself to honest habits of a lasting nature.
But one noon-day, as I hurried up the street from the
factor on my way to a restaurant, someone hailed me from across the
street, using a name of mine that sent a tremor of fear through me.
No one in this town knew me by that name, or so I thought. Turning I
saw a detective coming across the street to greet me. It had been he
who had arrested me for the crime I had just finished a prison term
to expiate. His face was aglow with a broad smile. His hand was
extended in friendship.
Glad to see you out, he exclaimed. When did it happen?
What are you doing?
I explained I had been out several weeks; that I w as on
probation, that I was working down at the shoe factory.
Fine, he said. I for one am with you one hundred
percent. I want to see you make good. Listen, just lay off the pool
halls and other joints around here, and you'll pull the grade. I'm
here now. I'm with the railroad. Dammit, if the sledding gets tough,
come out to my house. We'll make you acquainted with the right sort
of people. There's no need for you to get lonesome.
I was amazed at the man's attitude. I wondered if I had
previously misjudged him. I returned to the factor feeling a little
relieved but shaky in the region of my solar plexus. I had been at
work about an hour when I was notified the superintendent wished to
see me in his office. I felt the old sardonic sneer welling up in
me. I remember saying to the floor boss who conveyed the message to
me, Well, I guess this is the end of a perfect day. A minute
later, I was asked if I had ever served time in prison. Of course, I
well knew who had informed on me. The detective had gone straight
from his Judas kiss to the superintendent and advised him that an
ex-convict was in his employ.
I admitted the fact with a sarcastic barb at the whole
world. The superintendent was sorry that the rules of the company
forbade, and so forth.
You needn't be, I told him. I'm out of place here
anyway. I'm glad I got by long enough to buy a good gun. That's my
racket. It's all I know. Give me my check and I'll be out on my way
in a jiffy.
I walked away from that job with a poisoned heart and a
bitter resolution eating into my brain like a cancer. It took some
time to dull the edge of that mood. In the meantime I did some
reckless things against the social order before I finally stopped
with another prison sentence.
I have said elsewhere that reformation to be
effective and permanent must be accomplished by transcending old
habits; by reconditioning one's self to new habits of thought and
To this end the average prisoner will neither respond to
reason nor persuasion, harsh treatment nor kind. But, quite to the
contrary, he will readily respond to an educational program with an
inspirational tone to it, the quality that arouses self interest,
and offers a positive means to a broader mode of living for him.
When such a program fails, the man is hopeless so far as human
influence is concerned. Nothing save an act of Providence can swerve
him from his downward path.
As an illustration of what education can accomplish where
all other methods have failed, I wish to recount, briefly, the cases
of two men, not because I was privileged to play a minor part in
their salvation, but more to show that even the worst of human
timber can be salvaged from the gulf of destruction and rendered
useful to society when the educational method has been made
available to them.
Spider Ross was young in years, but old in experience. He
was one of those borderline cases the criminologists like to study.
That he was criminally insane the doctors had no doubt. But always
convictions for crime and sentences in Spider's many mishaps sent
him to prison instead of the criminal insane asylum.
Spider was one of those shifty-eyed, loose-lipped,
pasty-faced crooks of the petty variety. A kleptomaniac, I believe
they call them in professional terminology. He could neither read
nor write his own name. He walked with the swaggering defiance of
ignorance, and so far as any one could judge from mere observation,
he possessed nothing but a surface, and a shallow surface at that.
Apparently his only ambition was to live his own life and be allowed
to brag about it as he liked.
When the prison school was established, Spider of course
became what they called a list man, that is, his name was on the
list of those to whom training was made compulsory. I worked beside
Spider, and when he heard they were going to force him to attend
school, he promptly revolted. I'll go, he told me, but they can't
make me learn anything.
It didn't take me long to realize that the school could be
of little service to Spider so long as he held this attitude. I took
his problem to the school superintendent and asked him to allow me
to handle Spider's case. He agreed to my request, and I thereupon
removed Spider's name from the list. When the list-bearers made the
round to notify the others the day school was to start, Spider was
passed up. Though he said nothing, it was plain he had taken the
event as a slight and was very much disappointed. He wanted to tell
the list-bearer a mouthful, as he put it.
The school was a roaring success from the start. In the
shop there was no other topic of conversation. Enthusiasm ran riot.
Spelling matches were begun; arithmetic problems were pondered over
and solved. Every one had a stack of school-books he carried back
and forth. The more literate prisoners turned from topics of crime
to topics of history, government, economics, and so on. World's
Almanacs were borrowed from the new library with which to settle
disputes. Spider found himself completely disassociated from his
fellows. Everywhere he went the conversation had to do with school
subjects. After the tasks were all in, the prisoners would form
groups, each on its own intellectual level, and get off in a private
place to discuss their next day's assignments. If Spider approached
one of these groups he would remain only a moment, because he had no
mutual interest there. It was practically a case of unintentional
Spider was in the position where a feller needs a friend.
And his extremity proved my opportunity. When he could talk to no
one else, I talked to him as we worked. I talked to him about the
thrill one got from trying to learn things. Slowly but surely, his
interest rose. Then one day he asked me why they had left his name
off the school list. I replied by suggesting that he must have
requested it. He was vigorous in his denial of this.
Well, I guess they figured you weren't interested in
school, I countered.
I don't see why, he said, I didn't say so.
But maybe they figured you thought so. Actions speak
louder than words sometimes, you know.
He wondered if it was too late to get in. I thought I could
arrange it for him. But he would have to study hard in order to
catch up with the rest.
And so Spider Ross the next day found himself for the first
time in his life on the inside of a class room. No doubt he was an
exception, but once he was started and had mastered the first
difficult steps, after he had learned to read a little, his thirst
for more knowledge became an exaggerated mania, the talk of the
prison. In two school terms he absorbed what was equivalent to an
eighth grade education. Every one was amazed at his capacity to
assimilate complicated subjects. He was never without a book within
his reach. As he operated his machine the book stood propped open
At the beginning of this third school term, he took up
business, shorthand and typing in conjunction with a correspondence
course in salesmanship. At the close of the term he was placed in
one of the most difficult steno graphical positions in the prison
where question and answer dictation had to be taken with the speed
of a court reporter. While holding down this job, he found time to
continue his studies, to invent a dozen or so different kinds of
gadgets, which he planned to copyright later, and to write two
excellent books on salesmanship, one under the title The
Psychology of Depression and the other, Depression
Spider left prison in the midst of the depression. His
methods for making personal capital out of national hard times were
all set forth practicality and convincingly in his books. That he
demonstrated his theories, I haven't the slightest doubt in the
world, although I heard nothing more of him after he had taken his
I reiterate, his was doubtless an exceptional case. When a
man can start from the lowest level of ignorance and criminal
insanity, and in three years' time win a place of position of trust
within his prison, and prepare himself as he did for a position of
trust outside his prison, such an achievement is not only
exceptional, it is phenomenal.
The important thing is, however, that he did it. The
important thing to society. Institutional education had taken an
obvious social menace in Spider Ross and transformed him into a
social servant. Thus I have found it: education lifts the
consciousness of the prisoner it touches, instead of contributing to
the furtherance of his criminal tendencies.
And again we see in Spider's case, how first there was
developed an intense thirst or love for knowledge, which set the
creative principle to building in an opposite direction. Before his
love medium had been for destructive things and such things had been
created through him. With the love medium reversed, the creative
principle could do nothing else but create in the new direction. As
the love medium tends the creative law inclines.
The case of Harry Simmons was quite
different from that of Spider Ross in one way, but the result was
similar in that through the prison school both had been able to find
themselves and their particular niches in life.
Harry had attended college, was an excellent scholar and
possessed a high standard of taste toward the cultural things. He
could discuss academics with a glib and perfect accent. He was
typically a young intellectual, a trifle egotistical, somewhat
snobbish, and vastly intolerant toward those whose frontal bones
failed to measure up to the lofty dimensions of his own.
At some point in his educational career he had come under
the influence of a certain German philosopher. This philosopher
propounded a super-man doctrine which, in the hands of a person more
impressionable than stable, held a dangerous interpretation, an
interpretation altogether ruthless and inhuman. Indeed, it was Harry
Simmons' misinterpretation of a brainy man's philosophical doctrines
that paved the way for his pride to prison.
Live hard and dangerously, was the credo this philosopher
laid down for the guidance of the super-man. Meaning, of course,
that it was the duty of the super-man to dare the faggots of
ignorance by living and teaching in advance of his time. Poor Harry
thought the philosopher meant that the super-man, being so brilliant
as to appreciate the shortness of mortal life, should crowd into it
as much vice and merry-making as he possibly could.
So he became a hard and dangerous liver. He naturally found
such living expensive. At first he gambled for the wherewithal; and
later he tried forgery. After his parents had bankrupted themselves
trying to keep him out of prison over a period of several years,
they were finally obliged to stand aside and see their prodigal take
it on the chin for a five years' stretch.
Harry had what they called a political job in our shop. He
wore a white shirt instead of the regulation hickory. He was a
garment checker and shipping clerk. He was not liked because of his
highbrow attitude and he was difficult to reach because of the thick
veneer of know-it-all-ness he had drawn about him.
At any rate, I decided that Harry had too good a start in
life to let himself drift down the purple tide and wind up in his
old age a doddering prison lag, sitting around in the idle house of
his final prison home spinning yarns about his many exploits, and
comparing the conditions in this prison to the conditions in that
one. But while I made up my mind to attack him with the weapon of
love, I decided at the same time to use argument, since he loved to
argue above any other pastime.
I crossed verbal swords with him one day with an
introductory remark that set his blood boiling.
Say, I said, most unexpectedly to him, what do they
teach guys like you in college ?
To mind their own business for one thing, he shot back.
Oh, I thought they taught them to write checks on the old
folks' bank account.
Is that so! Well, get an earful of this. They also teach
them how to use their fists, if you happen to think you're lucky.
I don't resort to violence, I said with a broad grin on
my face. He promptly thawed out, and we were soon talking about his
favorite topic, the philosophy of the super-man. We argued off and
on for several days before he was willing to accede to my constantly
reiterated point that any philosophy was a failure, unless the
person embracing it could show that it had done him good instead of
After drawing this admission from him, I pointed out that
the same thing could be said of a college education; that although
college men had a great advantage over non-college men, the latter
by making opportunity out of the little they had, often succeeded in
life, while the college man who refused to see the opportunity in
the much possessed, failed in the practical business of life, that
of growing and getting ahead.
These discussions, carried on at odd times daily, created a
mutual bond between us, a thing that I had been working for, because
I wanted to touch upon a most delicate subject later on, one that
only friendship could take without resentment. I wanted to show him
and make him realize what he had done to his parents, especially his
mother, by dragging down the many excellent opportunities they had
made possible for him.
He told me later that I was the only person on earth who
could have brought these things home to him without giving offence.
He was glad I had done it. Also, for the first time, our discussions
made him conscious of the fact that, instead of copying his favorite
philosopher's virtues, he had been twisting those virtues into vices
and copying them.
As you probably have already divined, Harry Simmons had
scoffed at the idea of a prison school for convicts. He had said
that ninety per cent of the guys in this prison were too dumb to
learn anything if they were kept in school a million years. He had
evinced a great pity for the poor boobs who would have to act as
teachers. He had also said that was one job he would not do under
any inducement or pressure. He preferred the dungeon to such a job.
But Harry Simmons did become a teacher in the prison
school. He sought the job, and he filled it in an exemplary manner.
He had a Spanish and English class that positively worshiped him. He
became the professor's most valuable assistant and he, more than any
one else, was responsible for some of the finest features that the
school possessed. In a word, he became a prison school enthusiast,
and served the cause early and late to make it an outstanding
success, and in this way squelch the criticism that still rumbled
ominously here and there.
On commencement days, held in the big auditorium, with many
noted educators from various places present to study the effects of
the system, it was Harry's privilege to make the address which
outlined the accomplishments of that semester and voiced the hopes
of the one immediately to follow, for this school had only a very
short holiday period.
How different was the philosophy this boy propounded in
these addresses to that which he had brought with him to prison! He
was like a new creature. As he would warm with enthusiasm, he was
like a man who had caught a powerful vision, and was eager to convey
the inspiration of it to those who were still floundering about in
search of themselves, as he had been.
Harry was not a pupil in this prison school seeking an
education, but he got about as much out of it as any pupil there. It
was not education he obtained, but re-education.
Harry was still there when I pulled out. But he's gone by
this time, and I would be willing to wager a goodly fortune that
he'll never go back to that prison or any other.
One of the best debates the forum ever promoted was between
Harry and an equally brilliant fellow on the philosopher Nietzsche.
As I sat and listened I glowed inwardly with gratitude when the
youngster revealed to me he had at last gotten close to the real
Nietzsche and had reasoned away the shadow he had been following of
that greatest of all original thinkers.
LOVE VERSUS PRISON DOOR OF VIOLENCE
from the book titled Love Can Open Prison
by Starr Daily
Whoever lives true life, will love true love.
According to the law, to have guilty
knowledge of a crime, before or after, makes you equally guilty,
providing you fail to divulge that knowledge to the proper
authorities. On the other hand, according to the unwritten law of
the underworld, to divulge knowledge of a crime makes you guilty of
informing, and the penalty for this is death.
I believe there is such a thing in the universe as the law
of Personal Position; that there is a right and wrong place to be at
any given time; that if you are in your right place you will have
nothing to fear in the way of attracting adverse compensation; but
that every time you put yourself in a place where you have no
business to be, a penalty of some kind will be exacted.
It was through no intention to be nosey or curious that I
found myself in the following predicament; but since law is no
respecter of good or bad intentions, ignorance, or any other
excusing circumstances, I was faced with a situation that looked
anything but pleasing.
There was a stock room in the shop where I worked in which
all the supplies were kept. If a machine operator happened to ruin
one of his pieces, it was his business to call the supply man,
apprise him of his need, and wait at his machine until he brought an
extra piece to replace the ruined one.
On this occasion I had attempted to re-notch one of my
collar bands and had cut too deeply into the cloth. I looked around
and not seeing the supply man about the floor, I thought I might
save time by going in search of him. I got up and strolled back to
the stock room. Noticing the door partly ajar I went in with the
intention of serving myself. While I was carrying out this notion,
from the other side of the supply bins the subdued sound of three
voices reached me. They were plotting an escape. I knew the owner of
each voice. And before I could make a quiet departure, I learned
that the plot involved the lives of two men, one a guard, the other
I got out of the room and back to my machine. But I had
been seen by one of the plotters who had not been present at the
session just described, but who was aware that such a session was in
progress at the time I entered. This man's suspicions were
immediately aroused and he promptly labeled me a spy, hoping to gain
information whereby I might feather my own nest, possibly gain my
own freedom at their expense.
It was one of those situations in which many a prisoner has
found himself and from which many a prisoner has died mysteriously
without the prison authorities ever learning who did it or why it
As soon as possible this fellow conveyed his knowledge and
suspicions to the leader of the plot, a man with a tough reputation
and a desperate desire for freedom. For obvious reasons, I cannot
use the leader's name here, but for convenience I shall refer to him
vaguely as Muggs.
For some reason, a very fortunate reason, by the way, for
me, Muggs decided upon a course of action different from that
usually pursued in such cases. Instead of remaining silent and
keeping me in ignorance of the fact that they were aware I had
knowledge of their plans, Muggs called me to one side and said :
I ain't never knowed you to snitch; but I do know you've
gone hay-wire since you done that last jolt in the hole (dungeon).
We're goin' on through with this, an' you're goin' with us---or
else! You've declared yourself in, an' now you're gonna stay in.
Without hesitation he informed me of the part I was to
play. Also, it there occurred any hitch in their plans, he made it
unmistakably clear that I would be held responsible.
During the noon hour one prisoner, a trusty, was allowed
the privilege of remaining in the shop instead of having to return
to his cell after lunch. Now that I was one of the plotters, there
were five of us in all, one of them being the fellow in charge of
supply room. Just before time to line up for the noon march to the
mess hall, this man was to pass us into the stock room unobserved,
where we would hide until the rest of the prisoners had filed out,
and the guard had gone to the officers' dining room for his lunch.
Then when the trusty had returned from the mess hall and entered the
shop, we were to capture him, perhaps kill him if it was later
thought advisable. Likewise we were to follow the same procedure
when the guard again put in his appearance.
The captured or killed guard was to be disarmed and
stripped of his, uniform, which I was to don. Then Muggs, with the
guard's gun on my back, followed by the other three plotters, were
to march me in front of them to the back wall gate, where I would
order the wall guard to throw down his gun and the gate key, it
being presumed, of course, that he would mistake me for one of his
fellow officers. In case the wall guard became stubborn he was to be
shot from his perch with promptness and dispatch.
Had there been within me a desire for freedom in the same
degree as this desire actuated the plotters, I should have still
deplored their methods in attempting to obtain it. Every item of
their plot was based upon violence and the crudest sort of violence
in the bargain.
While I could plainly see a dozen different weaknesses in
their scheme, any one of which, after murder had been committed,
would have made their capture inevitable and their ultimate death in
the electric chair an absolute certainty, they could not see these
flaws, because they had permitted their objective to blind them to
everything but the objective itself.
I was soon made to understand by Muggs that my advice was
unsought and unwelcome. My position in the plot was not to reason
why, but to do or die. Certainly I was on the spot, to use the
vernacular. At this moment only one course was open to me, and that
I promptly rejected, not because of fear but because of principle.
Of this principle there are grounds for a wide divergence of
opinion. Some may think it lacked what a moral principle should
have, the sense of duty toward others, and that it was my duty to
inform the authorities that such a plot was being hatched and the
lives of two men and possibly three were being threatened.
I wish to make plain my attitude, therefore, and to make
clear the objection I previously mentioned regarding the use of
Had I turned informer against my fellow prisoners, that act
in itself would not have embraced violence, but it would have
resulted in violence. Those against whom I informed would have been
subjected to third degree methods in an effort to make them admit
the plot, or to confirm any information. But this would not have
been the end of violence. By and by I would have had to reckon with
the men I had betrayed; either I would have to kill one or more of
them in self defense, or be killed by them. In the meantime my act
of treachery would have brought down upon me the frightful curse of
ostracism, and would have thus destroyed the influence I had begun
to exercise for good among my fellows.
Luckily there was one man I could trust to share my secret
in return for his advice, my old reliable cell-buddy, Dad Trueblood.
The old man admitted that I was in a ticklish place between
two fires. But, he added, there never was a problem that could
not be solved by love, and this one is no exception.
To this I agreed. But I could see no way to induce more
love than I already felt for these men. Because I was able to see
clearly what they could not see, my sympathy for them was vast. Yet
they had not and apparently would not respond to it to the extent of
allowing me an equal voice in the plot.
You'll have to get their confidence through the voice of
action, Dad said. You'll see, you're no longer in their class.
They look at you as one who has gone the reform route. You've got to
make a sacrifice and make it appear that you've gone hard-boiled
again. You've got to get yourself in trouble and go to the hole.
I'll fix it up with the warden.
But I don't want the warden to know of it, I broke in
Of course you don't. Do you think I'd be that big a fool.
I'll tell him you have a different reason. He knows you're using all
kinds of schemes to help guys in here. I doubt if he'll even want to
know a reason.
Thus one day a short while later, I surprised the entire
shop by refusing to work. The guard's duty, of course, was clear. He
told me three times to return to my machine. I argued with him in a
loud angry voice that every one could hear. I thought for a minute I
was in for a hard blow on the head, as the guard became angry
himself at my display of insolence. He told me a fourth time to go
to my place or he would send for the man (deputy warden), and I told
him to go ahead.
While I waited for the deputy to show up, I strolled down the floor
past Muggs' machine. Out of the corner of his mouth he said :
Don't weaken. They can't do any more than give you the
works, an' they ain't gonna do that.
Don't worry, I replied, their hole don't bluff me any.
I've been in it plenty of times.
What's the matter? Muggs asked.
I just ain't feeling good today is all. And they want me
to work any way. They can lead a horse to water but they can't make
I put in fifteen days on bread and water and was then sent
back to work. The price I paid to gain a point was pretty stiff. But
when you consider the fact that my gesture doubtlessly saved the
lives of several men, the cost will appear small indeed. The point I
gained was, of course, the mutual respect and confidence of Muggs
and his fellow plotters. With this confidence and respect I was
given a voice in their plot councils, and in this manner I had no
difficulty in pointing out the weak spots in the whole scheme, the
hazards involved, and the inevitable consequences incumbent upon
failure. In other words, I was able to reduce the plot to
glamourless realism, and after I had accomplished that the desire
for freedom had lost about ninety per cent of its erstwhile appeal.
All of these men served out their terms in the slow but
safe way. I had convinced them that, while freedom was a wonderful
prize to win, violence was a dangerous method through which to
gamble for it.
One of the strong arguments for institutional education is
that it tends to eliminate prison plots of violence. Any plot
entering the mind of an ignorant person fails to bring with it the
fine points in execution that the same plot brings when it enters
the mind of a person trained to reason and analyze. Most of the
prison uprisings are conceived in the childish brain of one man
whose original motive is an abnormal desire to gain notoriety and
thus bask for awhile in the limelight and adulation of his equally
ignorant and subnormal fellows. Occasionally an educated prisoner or
criminal is forced, through the intervention of unexpected
circumstances, to resort to violent methods; but such methods are
seldom a part of his original plans.
When an educated prisoner plans an escape, he goes about it
in a scientific manner. He works through a process of elimination,
and the things he eliminates are all the possible features that
might compel him into an act of violence. He plans intelligently for
success; but in case of failure he doesn't wish to be faced with the
grim prospect of having to pay for a string of violent actions.
Prison officials fear the shrewdness of their educated
charges; but they never fear for their lives in dealing with them.
By employing the love medium, I was able to
save several men from such consequences as would have befallen Muggs
and the rest of us had their ill-planned plot gone through. The
following case will show how much easier it is to reach an educated
person under similar circumstances. But again I must refrain from
using the man's name. Therefore we shall merely call him Frank.
In this case I was taken into Frank's confidence without
having to inveigle my way in through trickery or persuasion. Frank
had been plotting his escape for several months. Finally he arrived
at the place where he thought he had reduced the plot to its
ultimate perfection. He could search through it from beginning to
end and no flaw would appear.
And still-- and here is the difference between an educated
man's plotting and the plotting of an ignorant or partly educated
man -- although Frank could pick out no flaw in his plot, the
intuition that goes with intelligence, warned him against becoming
too cock-sure. He had been close to his plot for a long time.
Perhaps he had been too close; so close that some apparently
trifling detail had escaped his notice; and this very detail might
be the one glaring flaw, if he could only get far enough away from
his plot to see it.
So far Frank had planned alone, another characteristic of
the educated prison plotter. Frank and I were the very best of
friends. The reason he had failed to confide in me before was not
because he feared to trust me, but because he feared I would attempt
to dissuade him from carrying out his intention.
He came to me now and laid his plans out, knowing full well
that I would scrutinize them with a fresh mind and expose any
weaknesses that he himself had been unable to find. He had obtained
a small piece of an old file. With this and a knitting needle he had
made a pick with which he could unlock the window to the shop
machinist's cage and thus reach through to a tray of hacksaws
entrusted to the machinist's care. His idea was to watch the
machinist in the evening when he checked his tools in the presence
of the warder; after which he would wait for an opportunity to act
unobserved, unlock the window and possess himself of one of the
saws, and then relock the window. With the saw and a bolt of shirt
cloth, which he intended to smuggle from the shop, his plan was to
cut the bars on his cell, climb to the top of the cell block, cut a
padlock on one of the big ventilating cupolas, and through this make
his way to the roof, where he would make fast one end of his cloth
rope and slide to the ground.
Your plan is all right, Frank, I told him. But suppose
it doesn't work. There's always an element of chance in the most
perfectly planned getaway, you know. What if you fail ?
Well, he said, I'll just go to the hole for a few days.
I don't expect to injure anybody; so if I do get caught it won't
amount to much.
You haven't considered the machinist, I replied. He's in
here for murder, and if I were you I wouldn't want to take much of a
chance on his temper.
Why, I wouldn't be hurting him any.
No. Maybe not. But he's responsible for those saws. And if
you took one in the way you planned to, he would have a hard time
explaining what became of it. As a matter of fact he would be
accused of aiding you. Of course if you succeeded in getting away he
would have to take his punishment without the possibility of getting
revenge on you for doing this dirty trick on him. But if you didn't
get away I'm afraid it would be too bad for you.
I could tell them I stole the saw.
They wouldn't believe it. And even if they were inclined
to give the machinist the benefit of the doubt set up in your
confession, he would have lost his job, although he escaped the
other punishment. They would not trust a man in his job to whom the
slightest suspicion can be attached.
Frank pursued his plans no further. While his plot appeared
to him free of violence in so far as its execution was concerned, he
had failed to see the violence inherent in its results. Even though
he had successfully escaped, the machinist, innocent though he was,
would have had to pay bitter for his success.
Personally I cannot believe that any success gained at the
misfortune of another, can have a permanent value. For many years I
tried to make violence pay: but always violence made me pay.
It is true that men appear to succeed at the expense of
their fellowmen. Whether or not that success gives them the pleasure
it is thought to give there, is another question. One thing is
certain, there is no spiritual gratification possible where violence
enters in. And, speaking from my own experience, if there is any
pleasure in life where moral and spiritual gratification is absent I
have failed to find it.
During the past six years I've gained a spiritual inch or
so. I would not barter that inch for all the gold, all the fame, and
all the worldly honor in existence. I've had gold, quantities of it,
crooked gold, and I've paid in a million different ways for every
tainted ounce of it.
One of the penalties of success achieved by
violence is that it must be constantly guarded by violence. It was
no pleasure for me to ride in a high-priced car and be always on the
alert for a spattering of machine-gun bullets from the guns of my
rivals in crime. When you so live that in every man you see an
enemy, there is small feeling of security in the touch of a pistol
at your side. You may put a pistol under your pillow at night, but
the action proves of little value in the way of inducing sleep. Nor
may it give you much satisfaction to know that every penitentiary is
waiting to receive you; that every electric chair has a claim on
your patronage; that every noose hangs in readiness to twine itself
round your neck.
I have found nothing more lastingly pleasurable than
that which I possess today. I have nothing that selfish greed might
envy. Therefore I need no gun to protect it. After an honest day's
work, I can sit down in my home and with my family round me enjoy
the quiet simple life of mutual love and spiritual harmony. If some
one drops in, and this frequently occurs, bearing with him or her
the weight of a troubled heart, we look upon such a visitor, not as
an unwelcome guest, but as welcome opportunity to serve the one
cause in the world that gives permanent gratification. In the
atmosphere of our home, troubles and worries are soon dissolved,
clear thinking re-established, and those who seek us with their
problems usually leave with those problems solved. We preach to no
one; but we have a philosophy that is creative, and in that
philosophy there is no room for fear and worry. We try to make
people see that fear and worry are not always constructive; that
these qualities create problems and troubles; that love and clear
thinking turn problems into experiences, and experiences into the
gold of knowledge; that where there is knowledge there is security,
and where there is security there is livingness in its highest sense
And when the last symphony has died away in our radio; when
our books have been put aside; when our evening meditation has been
stamped upon the subjective heavens, and we have retired to our
pillows, the sweetest blessing in life comes stealing over us,
To be able to lie down in positive security with unlocked
doors, and never turn over until another day has dawned, that is one
of the gains I wouldn't exchange for all the kingdoms that have been
built upon the leaping flames of violence.
There are two forms of violence, the passive and the
active. Both are destructive, but not in the same degree. While
active violence invariably reaches out to destroy other people and
things, the passive form remains at home to destroy the person alone
who harbors it. Of the two forms the latter is the most deadly to
its subject, because it finds no relief in action or active
expression, but remains suppressed with in the individual, poisoning
his nervous system, unbalancing his emotional life, arresting his
powers of rational thought -- all of which set up dangerous
reflexes in his physical organism, which often result in grave
nervous and mental disorders, while these in turn condition the body
for numerous diseases, both real and hysterical, which very
frequently prove fatal.
The unfortunate victim of passive violence is a physical,
moral and mental coward. His cowardice furnishes the driving motive
for his cruel instincts. He seeks escape from the condemnation his
own mind tortures him with through the vicarious method of
imagination. Deploring his own weakness, he envies the courage in
others. He lacks the intestinal stamina to kill an insect, but in
his imagination he visualizes himself ruthlessly crushing every one
who opposes the things he would like to do. He is a killer who never
kills; he is a tyrant whose tyranny touches no one but himself. He
is a pathetic creature in a world that offers him no honor, no self
respect, no social adjustment, no privilege of advancement.
The prisons are full of such victims. They are usually
confined for moral crimes, because they lack necessary courage to
commit crimes that involve physical danger. And since the nature of
their crimes is such as it is, they are detested by their fellows;
because, strange as it may seem, one criminal will appear to sicken
at a certain type of crime committed by another.
These victims, however, are quickly responsive to love and
understanding. Because of this I was able to help a few toward a
more mature emotional life.
The case of Emmett Edwards comes speedily to mind. Emmett
knew but one penalty to mete out to those with whom he disagreed.
They should be shot, or hanged, or broken on some mediaeval
instrument of torture. He was the shyest person I've ever seen and
the most colossal coward.
If the fellow with whom he happened to be celling made life
miserable for him, he endured the condition rather than face the
deputy warden with a request for a change of cells. He simply could
not screw up enough courage to face an official. And when he could
not avoid such a calamity, the ordeal would leave him limp for a
week to follow. He shrank from the boisterous crudeness of his
comrades. He was afraid of crowds. He always agreed verbally for
fear of being drawn into an argument. He shrank from entering the
general shower-bath; or of being exposed to a medical examination;
or to the examination conducted in the prison bureau of criminal
identification. He feared the possibility of being reported for
violating prison rules, or of being called upon to perform some task
exposing him to the scrutiny and possible criticism of others. He
feared both life and death. And he sought escape from all his fears
by nursing a secret violence against anything and everything.
Although this false escape channel was sufficient in itself to
destroy him in time, when he added physical self abuse to it he was
in possession of an annihilating combination that would be
satisfied with nothing short of complete wreckage.
At the time I singled him out for laboratory experimentation,
his face was drawn and sallow, his eyes were hollow with black
circles round them. The skin on his neck had begun to crease, it was
thick and oily. His head was becoming pinched at the temples, the
brow was tightening, his lips were drawing back from his teeth,
giving his features the appearance of an eternal grin, or silly
grimace. His hands had a sickly yellowish color, and the nails had
the bloodless blue of heavy or sluggish circulation. He was
emaciated and his mind was already touched by feebleness.
Summing him up briefly, I classified him, first, as a
victim of passive violence, and second, as a victim of both passive
and active violence, the latter being aimed at himself. At first I
scarcely knew which one of these types of violence to attack first.
Dad Trueblood suggested that the elimination of the one
would have a strong tendency to eliminate the other along with it.
Obviously, however, the violence he was expressing actively against
himself as the most urgent consideration, since it was doing the
greatest amount of physical and mental harm at the moment.
Emmett had reached the place on his march to destruction
where the line between sanity and insanity is very thin. One of the
peculiar features of these borderline cases is that they become
supersensitive at this point to an almost unbelievable degree. They
can tell in an instant whether they are being watched covertly, and
thoughts, especially if they are adverse, directed toward them are
picked up with the ease and accuracy of a radio receiving set.
For about a week I treated Emmett silently with the
constructive thoughts of love. At first he showed every indication
of being greatly disturbed by them. He would fidget and strive to
locate their source by trying to catch their sender in the act of
looking at him. His reaction to the influence was different. That
much he could feel. He had become more or less inured to the
critical thoughts his follows had been holding for him; but these
thoughts of love -- there was something foreign about them that
sent him to reacting involuntarily in a most uncomfortable way.
By and by, however, the influence of love acting upon
creative principle, began to have the desired effect, that of
soothing and calming its object. He came to recognize this influence
as being pleasant. He could sense that others had the power to
disturb it when they came near him to speak, and he resented this,
and would avoid it whenever possible. But when I finally approached
him to carry out my campaign of suggestion, he found that I did not
disturb him; that instead of feeling a sense of repulsion he
experienced a feeling of attraction. And this was the ground work I
had been wanting to lay.
In this boy's case and my connection with it, I learned
what friendship is and what a friend really means to one who all his
life had starved for the things only a friend has power to give. A
friend, I discovered, is one with whom you can share yourself
completely: your secrets, your sins, your weaknesses, your hopes and
disappointments -- all your faults, your failures and your triumphs.
A friend is one with whom you can be the real you. A friend is one
in whom you can place the last full measure of trust and know it
will never be misplaced.
To Emmett I became that sort of friend. There wasn't a
secret that he didn't divulge to me. He took me back into his
childhood, and there he described for me one incident that gave me
the cause for his life of cowardly misery.
It happened on his first day at school and his first
encounter with that species of cruelty that only school children can
inflict upon their fellows. Emmett had been challenged to do battle,
and although he gamely accepted the challenge and for a while
annoyed his larger opponent, the conflict grew too warm for him and
he hollered nuff from his underneath position on the battle
The ridicule that followed branded him forever as a coward.
He was never allowed to hear the end of it. He heard it from his own
brothers and sisters and even his father, and he finally came to
accept it as an inevitable part of him.
Since the cause of cowardice in his case had been the
result of physical defeat, I promptly concluded that the
reconditioning process should begin by establishing a sense of
physical courage, while at the same time stimulating a desire in his
mind for and pride in the possibilities of his body.
To this end I made arrangements for a magazine that dealt
with physical culture. Then I began mild scuffing matches with him.
These developed into boxing matches. And finally I induced him to
don the gloves with me before an enthusiastic circle of fans.
By permitting him to give me a pretty rough pummelling on
this occasion, his self confidence rose to egotistical heights, and
every day thereafter I found myself being invited to do a few
rounds, which I of course accepted, but not always to his advantage.
He proved to me, however, that he could take it on the chin and bore
right in for more.
In three months' time his interest in things athletic had
become a passion. He came to admire his physique. And then one day
the best boxer in the shop challenged him, he accepted, and gave the
fellow one of the worst maulings he had ever had in his life.
With this accomplishment he had that respect physical
inferiority always pays to physical superiority. And, having been a
coward, his courage now was genuine, not of the false bully type
that finds sadistic pleasure in preying on weakness, but the kind
that defends weakness. He was later to organize the baseball team of
our shop, and still later to become the captain of the first team,
and still later Emmett Edwards became the director of all prison
athletics, and was one of the first contestants to enter a real
prison prize ring, a Fourth of July feature created by his efforts,
while three thousand spectators looked on and rooted for their
respective favourite on whom they had laid their bets of tobacco and
other items of prison luxury.
From a craven coward and physical wreck, Emmett had climbed
to the peak of courage in one year's time. A mighty gap to span, but
not a difficult one when love and creative law worked hand in hand
behind the gap-jumper to bring the feat about.
It is sometimes claimed that creative
progress is faster working on the down-grade than it is on the
up-grade. But the little experience I have had disproves this
The example just recounted, for instance, shows beyond
doubt that when the creative principle is reversed from destruction
to construction, the destructive achievement that required years to
attain was equaled if not surpassed in the period of only one year,
when its final measure had been attained in the opposite direction.
And again in my own case, in a period of only a few months
I was able to sublimate habits that had taken twenty years to build
into my life. Indeed, as I have also pointed out, in cases of
disease with a hysterical background of long standing, the creative
cure was brought about almost instantly once the cause for
destructive creation was isolated and the creative law set to work
in the constructive direction of health.
But after all, it is the arguing about definitions and
theories that creates the confusion so prevalent today, and that
results in so much limitation on the part of those who need the
application of creative principle far more than they need the
learned expositions of what that principle is, how it works, and
what it is calculated to do. Actually and really, the only thing one
needs to know about any law, or principle, is that it exists, that
it can be used for either good or bad, according to the LOVE or
desire motive of the individual, and that it always works, in the
one direction or the other. [The Royal Law states, LOVE thy Lord
thy God, and the second one is like unto it, LOVE thy
neighbor as thy self.].
To waste valuable time quibbling about definitions and
theories while all the time need pleads for application, is, in my
humble opinion, the summed-up total of all that is unintelligent,
unpractical, and certainly unproductive.
If a person suffering from illness went to a doctor and the
doctor, instead of applying medical treatment, defined the science
of medicine, told how it worked, and what it was calculated to
achieve, such a patient would be no better off after leaving the
doctor than he was before seeing him.
Application is the final test of any law, and to make
that application it is not necessary to subject the law, an
infallible principle, to the analysis of a fallible human mind.
LOVE AND THE PRISON DOOR OF DEATH
from the book titled Love Can Open Prison
by Starr Daily
Dust, to its narrow house beneath!
Soul to its
place on high!
They that have
seen thy face in death,
No more may fear
Does the continuity of the life-chain
remain unbroken at death ? Whilst it is instinctive and reasonable
to believe in immortality, to many people, belief without supporting
proof is like faith that produces only the vague realization of its
evidence. Where realization is incomplete there is no sense of
certainty; and where there is no sense of certainty, satisfaction is
only partially experienced; and where satisfaction is only partially
experienced, troublesome doubts haunt the mind with annoying fears,
and thus a life that was created with inherent capacities of
security becomes insecure and miserable.
Most people fear death in one degree or another. They
approach it, not inwardly courageous, but with a sort of dull
fatalistic emotion; their fear of it being made hearable by the fact
that it is inescapable and that every one must face it alike sooner
or later. This is one of the many curious graces of life, of
compensation, that dread loses much of its sting when shared by
But can immortality be proven to the intellect in the same
manner in which a scientist might prove the existence of a natural
law ? Yes and no. A scientist working with concrete facts before him
may arrive at his law and prove it by the facts assembled. For
instance, Newton, observing the fall of an apple, began to wonder
why it didn't fall up instead of down. From the observation of this
fact, he began his investigations that later brought him to his law
of gravitation. To prove this law we have only to toss an object in
the air and watch it being drawn back to earth. With immortality,
however, the procedure is somewhat different. The fact of death
occurs, but contemporary men who pass on fail to return in such a
manner as to make their testimony of the hereafter valid and
With this problem one may experiment only with one's self.
And while one may prove to one's self intellectually that the
life-chain remains unbroken at death, one may not prove this truth
to another, because the concrete evidence, the body, once the
life-force has been withdrawn from it, offers no proof of anything,
save that death has occurred. As the light-bulb refuses to reveal
where the light goes when the switch is pressed, so does the cold
body refuse to reveal where the life-force goes when the mortal
heart has ceased to function.
Reason may give another convincing testimony of survival,
but not tangible proof. Take the monumental testimony of Sir Thomas
Browne, for example. There is nothing strictly immortal, said he,
but immortality. Whatever hat no beginning may be confident to have
no end. That is sound reason based upon scientific deduction,
because even the most materialistic mind cannot conceive a beginning
of life. And certainly to presume an end for something that had no
beginning is, at best, to presume an impossibility. But while
convincing reason may give courage by strengthening faith, it can
prove nothing to the intellect of another. It may remove the greater
part of death's sting; but it will not remove the gigantic question
mark. That must be accomplished in the laboratory of one's own mind.
There is a way to go about it. A scientific way. I am not
the discover of this way by any means. Eastern seers have been
employing the method for centuries, perhaps. I did, however, get an
original realization of the method's existence some time before I
saw if formulated in specific detail. And while I may describe the
method to you, I can prove nothing to your intellect, unless you
evoke enough interest to apply the method, in which case you will
inevitably arrive at you own proof, the only possible way to arrive
at proof on this most important question.
By this time it had been noised about the
prison that since I had entered the cell of Dad Trueblood I had
learned from him the art of getting along with almost everybody, no
matter how disagreeable the person was with others. I was not
surprised, therefore, and neither was Dad, when one day the warden
sent for me and offered me a job in the prison hospital. I found the
doctor in the warden's office when I arrived there. The warden asked
me bluntly if I was afraid of death or contagion.
I was able to answer promptly and sincerely, No, I have
no fear of the one nor faith in the other.
He looked at me quizzically for a moment. Then he asked,
Do you mean you don't believe in death?
I believe there is a transition called death, I
replied. In fact, I know there is. But I have neither fear, faith,
nor belief in death as a door that cannot be opened with love and
understanding before it is reached in the natural way.
Have you proven this to your satisfaction? he asked.
Only upon the evidence of reason, warden. It is my hope
to prove it by experience some day without having to wait for the
experience of death itself.
Both the warden and the doctor had evidently pondered
deeply on the subject, but both had come to about the same
conclusion. They saw in death a scientific fact of life. Beyond that
whatever speculations they had entertained had dissipated into a
sort of nebulous agnosticism.
I put the question to them both. Do you believe there
is a power higher than that expressed through the brain of man?
The doctor's ready answer surprised me, for it was
sharply metaphysical and strangely illuminating for a purely medical
minded man. He said he knew there was a power operating in the
universe beside which man's brain was comparatively nothing. But,
he qualified, I believe there's a latent capacity in the brain of
man that, if it could be fully utilized, would include all the power
existent, both natural and supernatural.
You've expressed it better than I could, doctor, I told
him. And then the warden told me of a condition in the hospital I
already knew about, since it was a common topic throughout the
In the tuberculosis ward was a patient known quite aptly as
Poison Jasper. This man was about to wind up a long and arduous
career of crime. He was ending it, however, true to his colors.
Whatever else could be said of him, he determined to die as he had
lived, ferociously, consistent to the end.
For months he had been wasting away. As a patient he was
the most ungovernable in the ward. As a man his heart was as bitter
and black as any heart could be. His fellow patients feared him. He
would laugh and sneer at his dying comrades who sought solace in a
last prayer or who called for the prison chaplain in their final
hour. He picked arguments with those round him. The doctor avoided
the caustic in his tongue whenever he could do so. And the warders
were made constant objects of his vile abuse. There was, of course,
no way to discipline the man, since the state law forbade the
infliction of punishment on the sick and dying.
When he could not rail and rant at men, he cursed the God
in whom he had never believed. He was a fanatical disbeliever and
was proud to declare it at any moment the occasion might present
itself. Nurse after nurse had been driven from the hospital by his
fiendish attacks upon them. Every one about him wished and longed
for the day of his demise, a fact which he knew all too well, and
which he answered with a tightening of his will to live on in spite
of their wishes. One of his most demonic traits would spring to the
surface when some doing patient would send for the chaplain and the
latter, because of some one of many possible reasons, would fail to
comply. The reason, of course, would be conveyed to the patient.
But Poison Jasper would always scoff at such excuses, as he
called them. The same old alibi, he would cackle throatily, a
preacher, a man of God, afraid to stick his nose in this ward for
fear he'll breathe one of our germs. He can tell all you human
skeletons how to die, all about heaven, what a swell joint it is.
But he'd just as soon stay right here. He's yellow. He's a rank
These tirades were palpably unjust; yet he sincerely
believed them to be true. He detested any one who evinced fear of
the disease that was gradually rubbing out his own life.
Before I accepted the task, taming Poison Jasper, I talked
to Dad Trueblood about it.
Well, it ain't that I want to lose a good cell-buddy,
he said. But I don't aim to meddle in your destiny. Every
experience presented to us holds something for us, if we'll only
open our eyes and try to find it. Go on up and do your best for them
poor devils. You can't lose anything, and you might gain a lot.
Old Dad Trueblood possessed an authentic sense of prophecy
that I had learned by this time to heed. I expressed doubt, however,
as to my ability to handle the situation.
Listen, Dad said thoughtfully, Old Jasper's just a
poor misguided and misunderstood child. Put love in your eye for
him, and then make him look at it. You'll probably be surprised at
In the event I found it hard to evoke that love and he
explained how I might accomplish it. But first he quoted a passage
Men drop so fast, ere life's mid
stage we tread,
Few know so many friends alive
Those who now hate Old Jasper most, he went on, will
be unable to hold that hate when they look upon his still features.
In the presence of the dead the faults of the past are dissolved and
the virtues of the past are resurrected. So just look at Old Jasper
and imagine that the Almighty has closed his weary lids and forgiven
all the human errors and weaknesses. In the presence of the dead the
faults that once were are dissolved and the virtues that were are
resurrected. So just look at Old Jasper and imagine he's no more.
The love of which I spoke will well up in you and your eyes will
become its windows.
He also explained what I was later to learn in a most
significant and helpful way, that tubercular patients were acutely
sensitive to the opinions of others, expressed or unexpressed. That
they could detect the faintest tremor of fear on the part of the
nurse, and this they resented, because it weakened the hope they
desired to retain to the end. If the nurse was afraid of their
disease, what hope had they of becoming cured?
Too, Dad added, some of the cases will have a purely
imaginary basis. If your actions are fearless and your hints to them
convincing and constructive, you might succeed in supplanting the
sick thought in their minds with a well thought strong enough to set
their minds to building new bodily tissue faster than the germs can
destroy it. With this, hope will likewise become stronger; faith
will increase; the will to survive will take on renewed persistence;
bodily resistance will grow in proportion; and as the power of
resistance increases the destructive power of the germs will
decrease. T.B. germs don't thrive on resistance, but on a lack of
When I walked into the ward the next night,
I was immediately conscious of the strained, fearful and suspicious
atmosphere of the place. With me I had brought an old copy of
Vosney's Ruins of Empire. Dad had told me to give it to Jasper,
and to tell him casually that one of his old cronies had asked me to
bring it in to him. I was to mention also, that he must keep the
book hidden when the keeper was around; that it was a book on the
chaplain's restriction list; and that if it was discovered that I
had brought it to him, I would be thrown into the dungeon for
breaking this rule.
Jasper mumbled something in a grudging tone about his not
being the kind of a rat who would knife a man who favored him. I had
nothing to fear on that score. But he was obviously suspicious of me
as he had been of all the other nurses who had preceded me. I could
plainly see that he was determined not to show any signs of
friendliness toward me. But the book incident had disarmed him and
he was forced, unwillingly of course, at least to respect a man who
would gamble with the dungeon in order to do him, a total stranger,
a good turn.
For several nights I was aware that Jasper watched me like
an evil cat waiting for a justifiable opportunity to pounce upon its
prey. It was a game of wits I played with him. I parried with all
the skill I had at my command to forestall the opening he sought. My
second victory over him was scored on the night my first patient
The dying man had begged for the chaplain to come over and
administer last minute prayers and spiritual consolation. But,
unfortunately, the chaplain was away from the prison at the time.
Knowing what Jasper would have to say when this disheartening news
came back, I had prepared for the event. I had taken up a position
at the foot of Jasper's bed, and was standing there looking down at
him when the keeper came with the message-- I was looking down at
him and reasoning in my heart that I stood before a potential
Christ. In fact, I knew I was standing before a potential Christ.
The only difference was that Christ had used the medium of love to
create a useful life, while Jasper had used it to create a misspent
life. Plainly, under such circumstances of reasoning, Jasper, not
being so fortunate as Christ, deserved sympathy instead of censure,
love instead of hate. This feeling consumed me as I stood there.
Just as the keeper informed the dying patient that the chaplain was
away at the time, Jasper looked me squarely in the eye, opened his
mouth to unlimber a bitter epithet, then turned his eyes from mine
I've never said many prayers, I told him in a
confidential tone, but I've a notion to try it for that poor guy.
If doing that much will make things seem a little easier for him, I
believe I'd feel pretty much like a cad not to do it. What do you
He made no comment. But he studied me intently as I lifted
the patient in my arms and asked him to follow my words in his mind.
The man died in this position, apparently comforted by the awkward
but sincere prayer of a layman. His head had dropped against my
shoulder, somewhat in the manner of a tired babe falling to sleep.
It was this test of my disregard for the disease that
convinced Jasper I had no fear of it. It also convinced all my other
patients, and because of this incident the morale of the patients
was lifted to a marked degree.
From that moment on until Jasper's hour to go had arrived,
there was no more trouble with him during my time on duty. In the
day-time, however, he made no such voluntary concessions as he had
reluctantly conceded to me.
Jasper died about two o'clock one morning.
He died without any apparent fear or pain. His mind was active and
he was able to whisper right up to the last minute. Yet he had asked
for no spiritual consolation, and he indicated no complaint.
Ten minutes before the end came his body began to relax.
The hard brutal lines on his wasted face softened, and the eyes that
had burned so feverishly and fiercely in their sunken black sockets,
became softly brilliant, like a pair of luminous twin stars.
Standing directly in front of him, I seemed unable to hold his gaze.
While his eyes were fastened directly on me, they appeared to be
fastened on something through and far beyond me. He beckoned feebly
and I sat down on the edge of his bed.
I'm dying, he whispered.
Of course I knew he spoke the truth, but I awkwardly sought
to reassure him.
Don't be a fool, he murmured. I see it all there as
plain as day.
Where? What? I asked, leaning eagerly toward his lips for
I tell you I'm dying, he repeated, ignoring my query. I
tell you I can see-----. His eyes rolled upward and the lids partly
closed over them.
This incident I put down as a deathbed visual
hallucination, and allowed it to pass quickly from my thoughts. Then
several days later, during my sleep period, I was awakened out of
a dream that had to do with this patient. It seemed that I had
failed in my effort to draw the lids over his eyes. I dozed off
again and immediately I began dreaming of the garden and the Christ
Who walked there.'This time the words were first in my mind when
again I had awakened. One phrase was, Lift up thine eyes to
Heaven, and the other, Let thine eye be single.
The dream itself seemed to have no special significance; nor
was it unusual. Doubtless many persons have had similar dreams. It
was the channel of thought it opened up that stirred me so
profoundly. An observation I had made numerous times before became
Why was it, I thought, that during the transition from life
to death the eyeballs turned upward instead of downward?
I began to probe into the question in search of a
reasonable answer. Certainly the action was contrary to nature. The
well-trained muscles that controlled the movement of the eyeballs
were adjusted to only two natural positions, the level position, and
the downward position. Rolling the eyeballs up was neither natural
nor an easy feat to accomplish even by force. It seemed quite
singular, therefore, that in death the eyeballs would ignore
natural custom and roll up instead of down, thus making an exception
to a life-long rule of following the habit of least resistance. That
death brought muscular relaxation failed, as it seemed to me, to
account for the phenomenon.
Later, as I continued to ponder the matter, I came into
possession of a fugitive piece of reading material. And this in
itself was strange, although such relative things do seem to have a
peculiar way, often a most curious way, of finding those in search
of that particular type of information sought.
In this paper the author told how when the eyes were down
as in ordinary sleep, we drifted through dream states evolved from
the subconscious reservoir of memory. When the eyes were level, as
in our waking hours, we were living in the conscious state of being.
When the eyeballs were lifted upward in meditation, we entered into
the metaphysical realm. The paper, also, gave a detailed system for
practice which I promptly began to follow.
My practice was carried on in a darkened room while I lay
flat on my back without pillows. It took me many days so to train
the unaccustomed muscles that controlled the movement of the
eyeballs before I could make them respond to my wishes easily and
free of strain, that is, before I could lift my eyeballs and hold
them in that position without their tiring or becoming fluttery.
When I had accomplished this a most surprising thing
happened. I sat down one night to snatch a brief period of
meditation. Closing my eyes, I began to think about the many things
that had come to me of late for which to feel grateful. As I
continued to enumerate them silently, I felt an irresistible tugging
sensation in my eyes, and presently, without conscious effort on my
part, I was aware that my eyeballs were being drawn upward toward a
single focal point in the center of my forehead. On this point they
became riveted. As they did so, the effect was that of turning on an
electric switch. The entire front part of my head became illuminated
with brilliant multicolored light. In comparison the light of the
sun was as a white beam beside a radium dial; a candle beside a
To me the discovery was a sublime revelation. I became
immersed in the boundless luminosity of it. The consciousness of
self vanished in it. I no longer appeared as an individualized speck
in the universal scheme of things. I was the universe itself, with
all its limitless freedom, its endless expansion, its blissful
enchantment. A mighty symphony of celestial music seemed to vibrate
through my uncurbed being. I saw and heard what Poison Jasper saw
and heard when he told me not to be a fool, that he saw it all as
plain as day. I saw more, I saw my own body, inert, motionless,
apparently lifeless, and I had compassion on those who were
compelled to live in such cramped quarters as the body I had
inhabited, and now looked upon from a perspective vantage point of
limitless freedom and joy.
By and by the luminosity began to gather into a unity of
one color, a mauve purple, and out of this there presently appeared
at the spot where my eyes were riveted, a perfectly pointed star. It
presented the illusion of vast distance, although though it appeared
quite near. When I opened my eyes, the warder was shaking my arm and
informing me that a patient was in need of attention. He thought I
had fallen asleep. But I hadn't. I had never been so much awake. In
that brief moment I had proven to my intellect that I possessed an
immortal soul. In that short period of time, I received the secret
in the Master's words uttered to me in a dream. I knew what He meant
when He said Lift up thine eyes to Heaven. I knew in that star
between my eyes I had found the eye that is forever single.
I've died twice daily and once nightly since that first
discovery. Three times during the twenty-four hours I induce the
little death in exchange for a few moments of the boundless life.
As I plainly stated at the beginning of this chapter,
immortality can be proven to the intellect in a scientific way and
by a scientific method. But I cannot, nor can any one else, prove it
to the intellect of another. I say again, it is not my desire to
prove, but to describe. To those of you, however, who have feared
death, and who have doubted the unbroken continuity of life, I can
assure you that a little effort will give to you the proof that it
gave to me; and perhaps at a much less expenditure of effort for I,
like Poison Jasper, can hardly be considered a person with unusual
psychic development. I'm not. I've lived a hard doubting, skeptical
life. Even now I come from metaphysical meditations doubting many of
the very things I've realized there. Had I been more sensitive to
the cosmic influences than I am, my spiritual conflict would have
been over with the discovery just recounted. But the human animal is
still very much alive in me, and I have still many arresting habits
that must be sublimated before the smoke of Armageddon's war ceases
to roll in blotting clouds across my mind.
But if you need more than the evidence of faith, if you
are one of those persons who are compelled by nature to find our way
by reason and experiment, as I am; if you need intellectual proof,
if you must realize immortality through actual experience here and
now, if you really care to contact the fourth dimension by a
conscious method and explore for yourself the vast realm of
superconsciousness-- I repeat, if you are sincerely interested,
enough so to make the little effort necessary, then you need search
no farther for the means to that end. It is in your hands. You have
only to use it. No information is worth an iota to the person who
merely receives it and does not apply it.
This chapter has been read in manuscript by
several persons of varying faiths and schools of thought, including
one occultist and an orthodox minister. By the latter I was informed
that no one should dare to experiment in this manner, that one
should not deliberately meddle in destiny.
Not in another person's destiny, perhaps, but in your own
destiny-- by all means.
The occultist informed me in the most vibrant tones that I
had stumbled upon a secret that had been known to Eastern seers for
centuries. I didn't stumble upon it. It was attracted to me when I
was ready to use it. One of the very seers he mentioned authored the
paper that came into my hands and gave me the method I later used
successfully. The same seer is today busy trying to give the method
Another bit of information my occultist critic gave me was,
You should guard this wisdom lest it fall into the hands of
others-- others who in their ignorance or avarice might misuse it.
Now of course I'm no seer nor adept. I've lived no life of
renunciation or strict austerity. I've just blundered along through
life like fate, taking the hard knocks that invariably accompany
unintelligent living, and finally after a long time awaking up to
the fact that there was such a thing as plain mule sense in the
world for any one who wanted to use it.
This mule sense tells me, despite the warning of my occult
friend, that neither knowledge nor wisdom can be misused. To have
wisdom is to have a realization of truth, and to have a realization,
a consciousness of truth, is to be uplifted by it. In my humble
opinion, the capacity to receive truth is God's guarantee against
its misuse; and surely any guarantee of God's is man's opportunity
to rise, not sink.
I was reminded, likewise, that one should knock at the
door of higher levels of understanding inspired only by the highest
motives, thus revealing to me that he had never remotely approached
true superconscious being. The methods employed to open this door
are of no importance whatever, save as a means to an end. The motive
may be the worst form of selfishness, an idle sense of curiosity.
The important thing is to open the door. Once opened, and during the
stay therein, human motives vanish, all low human qualities and
characteristics become wholly and completely dissolved in the
illimitable sea of all-pervading truth.
Immersed in this sea all meditation becomes impersonal;
the finite aspect of love falls away as universal love closes in
around you. You think without being conscious of thinking, you feel
without being conscious of feeling, you receive all without
appearing to receive. Always you come out of these meditations a
better spiritual entity than when you entered.
And since the ultimate purpose of life is to grow
spiritually, I disagree with those who would tell you not to meddle
in your own destiny and not approach the door that leads to life
LOVE AND THE PRISON DOOR OF DISEASE
from the book titled Love Can Open Prison Doors
by Starr Daily
disease which we look upon as whole
and entire within
itself, may after all, be but a
symptom of some ailment
in the spiritual past.
If this chapter might later appear to have
been misnamed, I can assure the reader that such is not the case.
Love operating through me made it possible to break down natural
human restraints, obtain confidence in the cases described, and thus
get to the real causes that were responsible for the diseases
My experiences in the prison hospital included many of such
cases. Most of them I was able to cure without the use of drugs.
Some I failed to cure, because the conditioning habit of morbidity
had become so deeply rooted in the subconscious life of the patient
that my inventive resources failed to uncover an effective means of
Before I get farther into the chapter, I wish to make it
understood now that in neither of the first two cases mentioned here
was there an organic basis for the diseases treated. In each case
the underlying cause was mental. During this time and since, I've
treated and cured scores of sick and crippled people of every
conceivable kind and degree of affliction. And in every case where I
was able to effect a cure the manifestation of affliction was
hysterical and not organic. I have never been able to effect a cure
in purely organic cases. I do not, however, wish to infer that such
cures cannot be accomplished by others; but that they haven't been
accomplished by me, and certainly in making this statement a great
mistake would be made by any one accepting it as a general rule
rather than a particular one. l can and do, nevertheless, offer it
as my belief that at least half of the sickness in America,
especially, is due to unwholesome mental habits, such as destructive
suggestibility. The following case will illustrate clearly what 1
The man in question was highly intelligent, very sensitive,
and extremely cocksure about his own opinions.
He was carried into the hospital late one night suffering
from extreme pain in the abdomen. He said to me as I helped him
remove his clothing, I know what's the matter with me. But don't
say anything. I want to see if the doctor knows.
When the doctor reached him and made his examination, he
diagnosed the pain as gall colic. You're absolutely right, doctor,
the patient said, I'm lousy with gall-stones. He manifested every
possible symptom of this disease.
Since the case seemed to call for an immediate operation,
the surgeon was called from his bed. He reached the prison hospital
in no pleasant frame of mind. He examined the patient carefully, and
later announced that the fellow was suffering from the effects of an
exaggerated imagination; that what he needed was a metaphysical
practitioner instead of a surgeon.
Still, he added, if you can't find any other way to
reach him, we may have to operate as a gesture in order to save his
life. If he gets any worse by morning give me a ring.
See what you can do, the hospital physician said to me,
and I started on the trail of the mental quirk that had brought the
fellow's trouble about.
In the first place the man was suffering severe pain, and
to this I responded with a whole-hearted sympathy. I made an effort
to do what I could, in a physical way, for him, while at the same
time I was planning how best I might approach him in my effort to
help him in a mental way.
By careful and tactful leads I succeeded in getting him to
talk about himself and his opinions between grunts and groans. I
assumed the role of a poorly informed but sympathetic listener,
eager to profit by the sage advice I well knew he was capable of
giving me. Thus he revealed in due time that he had been an
inveterate reader of newspaper health articles.
He was that type of susceptible person to whom health
information was quite as likely as not to prove a liability instead
of an asset. Indeed to one of these articles he had unwittingly
fallen prey. The article had been written by a famous doctor on the
subject of gall-stones.
At the time he read the article there was a slight but
annoying muscular pain in the abdominal region where gall-colic
occurs. The pain appeared to him to be identical with that described
by the writer. So he promptly grew alarmed and began to diagnose his
own case, which was of course gall-stones. And by the time he
reached the hospital all the symptoms of this disease were rejected
in his physical organism.
Now that I had the cause, it became a complicated problem
as to how I might eradicate it. Obviously I could not do it by the
use of reason or suggestion. My making myself a pupil of his, as it
were, I had destroyed the opportunity to make a sudden right-about
face and become his teacher. Besides, he was entirely too
opinionated to be convinced against his will. There was nothing to
do, therefore, but let him cure himself, while I did the directing,
although I appeared not to be doing so.
As I pondered on a method, a brilliant idea occurred to me.
In my room was a book written by a doctor who advocated fasting in
the cure and prevention of disease. Later in the morning, I paused
at his door to inquire after him, and I had the book in my hand. He
asked me the title of it. I told him, and mentioned casually that I
had just been reading the chapter on gall-stones. As I expected he
asked to see it. I gave him the book, and went on about my duties.
when again I had returned his eyes were burning with enthusiasm.
Here's a doctor that knows his business, he said. If I
could get the treatment prescribed here I could cure myself.
Well, I replied, they don't allow any unorthodox
treatment here in the hospital. But I'm willing to trust you and
take a chance. This statement pleased him. You tell me what to
do, I added, and I'll follow instructions.
Thus it was, I took four ounces of olive oil and four
ounces of orange juice, whipped them together, and gave it to him at
six that morning. During the day he refused food. At seven that
night, when I came on duty again, he instructed me to give him a
high warm enema, which I did. As I well knew it would, this brought
away a great quantity of hard green pellets of bile. We secured
seventy-seven of these small pellets in all. Immediately following
this demonstration, every symptom of gall-stone left the man. He
remained in the hospital, however, for six more days fasting on
orange juice according to the advice given in the book. Then he
pronounced himself cured and returned to his cell. Until I left the
prison this fellow carried a dozen or so of these bile pellets
around in a match box and never passed up an opportunity to display
them to any one who was curious to know just what a gall-stone
really looked like.
In this instance I might also add, that the case described
above was only one of several encountered during my hospital
experience whose causes were traced back to the reading of health
articles, medical books, patent medicine circulars and the like.
Several years ago the press conducted a vigorous
educational campaign against cancer. As a direct result of reading
these informational articles and editorials, two prisoners developed
typical symptoms of stomach cancer, one of which died a lingering
painful death, and the other I treated and cured by convincing him I
possessed curative powers in my hands, which I placed over the
affected regions and advised him to feel the flow of curative
magnetism pouring from my hands to the cancerous growth. His own
belief, or if you'd rather, his own faith in the mastery of my
apparent power, did the work by replacing in his mind a well thought
instead of the sick one he had been entertaining.
Before taking up case number two I wish to
take issue with many people who deplore the use of deception in any
form or for any reason. In nearly all mental treatments,
deceptions, ruses of some kind, must be resorted to in order to get
the cause of the trouble and apply an effective counter-actant. The
creative principle does not recognize the right or wrong of
anything. But the use that man makes of a thing determines its moral
quality. Any vice may be turned into a virtue by reversing its trend
and setting it in motion toward the ends of virtue.
Case number two was undoubtedly the most amazing example
I've ever seen or heard about in the realm of hysterically induced
physical disabilities. He was an absolute wreck. He was brought from
the court room to the prison on a stretcher to begin an
indeterminate sentence. It had been predicted at the time that he
would cheat the law of its prey long before the board of paroles
had a chance to act on his case.
His hospital chart revealed him a sufferer of paralysis of
limbs, hardening of the liver, diabetes, dropsy tendencies,
arthritis, tuberculosis of the bowels, heart-leakage, neuroticism,
faulty-vision and high blood pressure.
So the reader might, also, share the assumption of the time
that this man was in a dying condition. Because of its relative
importance, I wish to add one item that was not listed on the chart.
The fellow was an illiterate and was childishly superstitious, as I
At the time he committed the crime, a shooting affair, for
which he had been convicted, he had been in apparent good health.
It took me several nights to break through the wall sf
secrecy he had built up around himself. Suspicious and slow to
trust, he was chary of strangers; he was on guard against anything
that seemed like an approach to his inner life. I didn't press him,
but I did evoke a strong feeling of love for him, and I missed no
opportunity to express that love in tangible terms that he could not
only feel but understand. Inch by inch the bars went down. Then one
night he made a confession with all the naivete of a child.
In the neighborhood where he had lived all his life was an
old woman who possessed strange powers of divination. She had
visited him at the jail and revealed to him that he was in the
clutches of the evil one. A curse had been placed on him and a spell
cast that would destroy him in a terrible way. The hands that held
the gun would turn to stone, the eyes that sighted down the gun
barrel would become blind, his legs would become useless, his
innards like a nest of poison serpents.
Accepting this upon the infallible authority of the old
woman, he promptly set his mind to the task of reflecting it all in
his body. Obviously, there was but one thing to be done in his case
and that was to destroy the influence of the evil one, the evil one
of his own mind. As in nearly all such cases it was a matter of
fighting the devil, or his imaginations, with his own weapons.
Logic, reason, persuasion were puny implements compared to the
implements of that devil in his determination to make the sinister
curse effective. Deception had brought the man's condition about;
deception would have to be resorted to in order to counteract the
results of the original deception. Between two evils there is but
one choice for the practitioner, the evil that can be twisted and
set to work along constructive lines.
I took the doctor into my plans and obtained his permission
to allow Dad Trueblood to co-operate with me. Then Dad and I worked
out our campaign of attack. Since I had access to the patient's
private history, and since it was I who read all his letters for
him, I had in my possession a great quantity of personal information
about the man, which I turned over to Dad.
Then I began to tell the patient about an old man in this
very prison who had powers even greater than those possessed by the
old woman he had told me about. This old man, I told him, could even
tell your fortune. I could see immediately that he was interested.
After awhile I suggested that he ask the doctor if he might be
permitted to see the fortune-teller, and of course the doctor
agreed, and sent for Dad to come over.
What a revelation it was! The patient told me afterward:
Why, he told me things no one on earth knows about but me. Time
and again Dad was sent for by the patient, and with each visit the
patient's faith in Dad's powers mounted higher and higher until I
was able to tell Dad one day, Well, old-timer, you've won the most
exalted prize in this world, you've become a god.
That's good, the old fellow said, but there's much to be
done. I must get absolute control of the poor devil. He's got to see
me demonstrate my power over man's strongest enemy.
You mean--- ? I asked.
Yep, he said, he's got to see me raise the dead.
We carefully arranged for this great demonstration to take
place in the room directly across the hall from the patient's room.
In this room we planted an accomplice earlier in the
evening, a man presumably brought over from one of the cell-houses
in a dying condition. For two or three hours there was much activity
around his room, hurried darting about between many whispered
consultations. The reason for all of this I conveyed in a most
solemn and confidential manner to my patient across the hall who, of
course, had been taking it all in. Finally, at the hour of midnight
the accomplice died and I carried the tragic news over to our
Listen to me, I said to him, you stand in good with the
doctor. I want you to ask him to let Dad Trueblood come over here
and see what he can do. The man is dead, I know; but I believe Dad
can bring him back to life.
Do you reckon Dad could do that?
I did. The patient told me to tell the doctor he would like
to speak with him. A few minutes later the doctor emerged from the
patient's room and winked. And in a few more minutes the miracle
man, Dad Trueblood, was in the hospital. He didn't go directly into
the death room; but he went first into the patient's room. Very
solemnly he thanked the patient for interceding on the dead man's
Do you think you can really bring him back to life? the
patient asked eagerly.
I don't think anything about it, was Dad's reply. I know
I can. He's not dead, but sleeping. The evil one has cast a spell
over him and a curse on him. I am greater than the evil one. Before
my words the evil one flies back to the darkness where he came from.
I am the evil ones's master. Before me he cannot stand. Watch!
And the patient did watch. He watched every gesture and
heard each word that fell from Dad's lips. He saw the dead man raise
up in his bed with the motion of Dad's hand. He saw Dad back slowly
toward the door and heard him say Come to the man who a minute
before had lain cold under the evil one's spell. And he saw the man
follow Dad into the hall and disappear down the corridor, never
agin to return to the bed of death.
And on a night a week later, the miracle man performed the
same sort of ceremony in the room of out patient. He broke the evil
one's spell, and that moment the hysterically produced diseases that
had held the man in their grip for months fell away as though they
had never been.
I once recounted this incident to a practicing
metaphysician, a woman who had an excellent record of
accomplishments to her credit. The end attained, she thought, was a
worthy one; but to her the method employed was extremely revolting
and sacrilegious. Had we employed the deceptions of our own
invention instead of closely copying the methods of Jesus by which
to perpetuate our deceptions, her criticism would have been
In my opinion, however, there is no valid parallel between
our method and that of the Master. It is assumed that He was above
the need of employing deceptive methods to accomplish His ends, and
since we possessed no such development as this, we could not copy
what we did not possess. I have no fear but that the Master,
recognizing our limitations, would have readily condoned our means.
There is a vast difference in the attitude
of a patient entering a prison hospital and one entering a hospital
on outside. Such hospitals no longer hold the terror for the sick
they once did, but the belief still persists among most prisoners
that in the prison hospital there, is a mysterious black bottle
always at hand for midnight service. One dose from this bottle and
there is one less convict to provide trouble for the law.
Of all the fears that harass men in prison, the worst is
the fear of dying in prison. Why this should be I do not know. But
there may be a touch of superstition connected with it. To a
prisoner his prison represents a living hell on earth, and it might
be that deep down within him he fears to die in this hell of sin and
iniquity, because to do so might lessen his chances of escaping that
other hell lying just across the border. Ninety-nine out of every
hundred prisoners possess a psychopathic religious streak in them
that comes to the surface in the form of fear when they become
If I could only live long enough to get out, is the
plaintive cry one hears in the prison hospitals. And it's a
soul-rending cry, because of the utter hopelessness of it in most
cases. It appears that in their minds is a belief that death on the
outside is something of a pleasure, whilst on the inside it is
something to be viewed with dread and trembling.
I stress this point here for the purpose of showing that
the very desperation involved, sometimes proves the factor most
needed in effecting an ultimate cure, especially in cases where the
causes are organic and the affliction genuine. [Editor's note:
The religious doctrine of hell, or eternal damnation, becomes man's
inhumanity to man. God's grace far exceeds our limitation and this
is seen in where sin abounded, GRACE did much more abound. We must
not sweep away the revelation presented to us in II Corinthians
5:18, God was in Christ personally reconciling the world (all
mankind) to Himself.All human history is consummated in Christ].
The following was such a case. In it there was no mental
cause to be probed for and eradicated, and yet everything depended
upon establishing in the patient's mind a strong personal desire to
overcome. In this instance, therefore, my duty was to discover some
method whereby this desire could be planted and fostered in the
patient's mind. Consequently the resulting progress was not one of
those sudden healings that occur in the lives of the hysterically
afflicted; but it was a dogged, slow-moving, determined process of
mind over matter, of will over the fatalistic tendency to accept a
physical condition as being hopeless.
The patient was a young man of fine physique, who had
always been proud of his bodily development, his masculinity, and
his ability to fend for himself and for his young wife and two
children. In his mind, to be crippled or deformed in any way
represented the tragedy of tragedies.
He had been curried into the hospital one day from the rock
quarry with both arms broken, each one in two separate places. The
unusual method employed in setting bones proved inadequate in his
case and surgery was resorted to in the end.
The bones knitted splendidly, but there was the faintest
overlapping of nerve lines, which left the boy's arms from the
elbows down log-like and lifeless. Apparently nothing could be done
about it; but the surgeon dropped a hint that if the unfortunate
could be made to concentrate the full force of his will on the
problem and keep trying to move the dead fingers, he might
eventually succeed in bringing about a realignment of the nerve
carriers and thus regain the use of his arms.
The patient, however, had been completely overcome by the
tragedy. All the interest he had ever had in life seemed to have
left him when the full truth of his condition was finally forced
upon him. Almost daily some of his relatives visited him. At first
he could hardly bear the thought of seeing his wife and children.
Unfortunately, through their strong efforts to pacify him, they
succeeded in establishing in his mind a sort of dull acceptance,
and he began to reconcile himself to a future of invalidism. Of
course, so long as he remained in this attitude of mind, there was
no use trying to reason with him about the necessity of making an
effort. Every one about him did that to no avail. He would pretend
to try, tire quickly, and slump back in his pillows.
While I watched these futile attempts being made to arouse
an interest in him, I came to the conclusion that his case was to be
absent of pandering sympathy. This fellow had to be handled with
brutal frankness and infinite patience, and infinite encouragement.
To that task I dedicated myself.
I pictured to him with all the powers of description I
could command, the horrors of an armless future, of his being a
life-long object of charity, depending on others for every crust he
ate, for every rag he wore. He was forced to grit his teeth to keep
from screaming while I savagely mapped out the course his life must
take. In the face of it he did exactly what I wanted him to do, he
became desperate, he had been stirred to the foundation of his soul.
At this juncture I said: Remember, kid, it's up to you. If you want
this sort of future you can have it. If you don't want it, you don't
have to take it.
My last sentence kindled fires of hope in his eyes. He
could not wait to begin the battle. I patted his shoulder in
appreciation of his courage. I'll explain how to go about it, I
told him then.
And with this I told him about the creative principle
that operated throughout the universe that could be contacted by
love; that if his love for his arms was strong enough to make him
try ceaselessly to move his fingers, the creative principle could be
made to do his bidding.
His efforts were pathetically heroic. In order to make it
less difficult, I advised him to direct his will into the right hand
first. For three weeks I spent every spare minute I had at his
bedside giving him encouragement. Sometimes he would think he felt
his fingers move. And I would say, You're right, they did move just
a tremor. These lies were creative lies, because they created in
him greater determination and greater effort.
As I watched one night my long vigil was rewarded. His
thumb moved. I grabbed him around the neck and shouted. I staggered
from the room blind with gratitude.
I was never to have the satisfaction of seeing much further
progress than that made, however, for about this time his relatives
succeeded in getting him paroled because of the injury he had
received while in prison. He was the only man to whom I've ever
begrudged freedom. I believed then and I still believe that had I
been given another month with him, his arms would have been
restored. But during my remaining period in prison I heard of him
from time to time. They had him in the care of many doctors who had
tried in vain to help him. He had promised me on the day he left
that he would keep trying our method. But many over-indulgent hands,
I'm afraid, eager to do the work that his were made to do, broke
down the desperate desire I had built up in him. At any rate, the
last word I had of him proved him to be no better off than he was on
the day he left prison.
Always love causes something to be
created. But always love must direct the creative principle toward
constructive ends if such are the ends desired. I do not say this
boy's friends and relatives consciously sought destruction for him.
Indeed they did not. But the love they had for him was not the wise
love that gives others the necessary stimulus and encouragement to
The mother who loves her child so much that she relieves
her child of self developing effort, is not loving constructively,
and because she is not loving constructively a price will later be
exacted of both her and the child. For always the creative principle
creates that which it is directed to create This is its nature. And
this is what it does. It is man's duty to use the creative principle
toward constructive ends to the fullest extent of his capacity to do
so. And this capacity is sometimes greater than man might at first
realize. In other words, one never knows what one can do until one
If every man would pause to question the course his
desires were taking, and change that course if he found it to be
destructive, this old world would soon notice a mighty falling off
on the debit side of misery.
In this last particular I have saved a most unusual case
through which to show how the creative principle, reversed, brought
happiness to a man who for years had rolled himself about in a
wheel-chair, grumbling at his fate, bored with the terrible monotony
of his existence.
His physical handicap was of small importance compared to
the sullen, brooding melancholia that made the contemplation of life
far more terrible than contemplation of death. He had to be watched
constantly in order to prevent him from carrying out and achieving
what he had attempted on two or three occasions. A sufferer from
insomnia, he would lie through the endless nights wide-eyed, cursing
and grumbling; with the coming of morning he faced the day with the
deadening horror of exhaustion, each moment passing with the slow
pace of a century. All day long he would roll himself back and forth
from his room to the clock at the far end of the corridor, note the
time and then curse the hands that moved so slowly round the dial.
Being irritable and constantly cranky, he had no friends.
In fact, he was one man who seemed unwilling to share his misery
with others. To speak to him in a friendly tone was to court
immediate rebuke, and only those unfamiliar with his scathing
tongue ever invited it.
He had been a patient in the hospital for nearly a year
when I began my duties there. I was promptly warned against him,
told that no one would have anything to do with him. But this
well-intentioned advice, instead of prejudicing me against the man,
awakened within me a compassion so great that I found it difficult
to contain it. I wanted to pour it out on him in a torrential flow
of words. However, I held myself in check, bided my time, studied
him minutely, and watched for him to show some sign of
responsiveness. My reward came one day when I saw him watching the
antics of a stray dog that had somehow slipped by the guard and
found its way in to the prison yard. This display of interest struck
me that he might be interested in a pet. I revealed my finding to
the warden and got his permission to allow the man to have a small
pet in his room.
I first thought of trying to secure a white mouse; but
before I had a chance to make arrangements for one, a friend of mine
found a young sparrow on the flag-stones of one of the cell
buildings. The little fellow's right wing was broken. I brought it
into the hospital and began to set the broken member. As I worked
the patient rolled up in his chair and sat watching me silently. I
turned to him and said, I think I ought to wire the bones, And
then I asked him to hold the bird while I went for the silver wire.
In a few minutes we were working together over our little
cockney friend. With the operation completed, I hinted that I hated
to turn the bird loose till it was well, but I didn't have time to
look after it.
I'll take care of it for you, he volunteered.
And how he took care of it! No bird ever got the love and
attention that he lavished on Molly, as he later named her. She
thrived on his care. Her wing knitted and grew strong. He taught her
many little tricks. She would ride about perched on his head; she
would cling to his ear and chatter, while he chattered back. She
would cling to his finger and take food from his tongue.
Then one day he grew pensive and told me he had decided
to give Molly her freedom. I'll never forget that day. I went with
him to the window and pushed the screen back for him. When Molly
flew out, all that life held for him seemed to go with her. We
watched her as she flew chattering here and there, lighting on this
building and that, until finally we lost her and turned from the
window. She remained away all day. But late in the afternoon I was
awakened by his shout at my door. Jumping up I ran into his room.
And there was Molly clinging to the outside of the screen, fussing
and fluttering her wings in the utmost impatience with our stupidity
and slowness in coming to her rescue.
Every day after that Molly was allowed to go out; but
always about the same time in the afternoon she would reappear to be
let in again. When the clock told him it was time to expect Molly
home, he would roll himself to the window to welcome her.
Out of this incident I was able to establish other
interests in this patient. He became an expert with needle and
thread and made many beautiful things which he sold to visitors. A
part of this money he set aside for charity purpose which he
conducted among the hospital patients. Little things they needed
that were not furnished by the prison he would buy and distribute.
His name became a symbol of kindness throughout the prison. They
called him a square guy, the highest compliment one convict can pay
to another. And those he befriended during their stay in the
hospital seldom forgot. Though he had no friends or relatives
outside, on holidays, when boxes were allowed to be sent in, he was
the recipient of more gifts than any one else in the prison. All of
these gifts would come from his inmate friends; men fortunate enough
to have friends and relatives outside to remember them.
The money he didn't use for charity was hoarded carefully
until he had enough saved to purchase a set of books on commercial
drafting. With these books he was busy preparing himself for a
useful future when I was released. So completely occupied was he
with this and his numerous other activities, he found it necessary
to budget his time, allowing so much for this thing and so much for
that. He has been given permission to use a bed lamp after the
regular hour for retiring, and in this way he could carry on until
midnight, at which time he would go to bed. Having trained himself
to induce instant sleep, he would rest perfectly for six hours, at
the end of which another busy day would begin.
How different his life was from those other days of
dragging torment and those endless nights of sleeplessness. Then,
each minute in the twenty-four hours meant just a link in an endless
chain of monotony; now, each minute was a gem, too precious to be
wasted in destructive thought and idleness.
It was a miracle in the realm of transformation; but it
was an inevitable miracle. It could have been no other way. The
moment he began to use the creative principle of life in the right
direction, that moment he began to displace misery with happiness.
This man confided many jewels of wisdom to me before my departure,
but I've always held the following to be his richest bit of prison
Don't seek peace, he told me, but conflict. By
conflict we grow, and growth is just another name for happiness.
LOVE CAN OPEN PRISON DOORS OF STEEL
from the book titled Love Can Open Prison
by Starr Daily
Great men are
they who see that spiritual is stronger
than any material force,
that thoughts rule the world.
All men accept the idea that love and
thought are synonymous, that the former is the first expression of
the latter, and that the combination of the intellectual and
emotional form a unity inseparable one from the other, and that
this unity, acting upon creative principle, constitutes the
strongest creative force in the world.
All men admit that thought-force is capable of performing
miracles, of constantly changing the face of things, of brushing
aside the impossible, and out of the impossible of yesterday
establishing the commonplace of today. Men will agree to the truism
that the possible accomplishments of thought are limitless; but
when you say that thought can open the doors of a modern prison,
unsupported by collusion or political influence, men will shake
their heads, thus indicating their Missourian disposition to be
On an evening in 1924 I sat in a cell alone on the
receiving gallery of the prison mentioned throughout this book. My
outlook was as black and hopeless as any man's outlook could
possibly be. That morning I had been up before the board of paroles,
and the chairman of the board, who had done the talking, had been
in no mood to spare my sensibilities.
Only a very short while before I faced the same body of
men, and I had made them the usual run of glowing promises. Yes,
gentlemen, I had said on that occasion, when I go out this time I
intend to make good. I've learned my lesson. This jolt has taught me
that crime doesn't pay. I'm done with it forever. Me for the
straight and narrow from now on.
Well, this has been your second offence in this prison,
the chairman had replied. Yet your prison record has been fairly
good. We've decided to give you another chance. But if you fail, if
you come back again you may expect no consideration at our hands.
And I had gone out a few mornings later. The man who signed
my parole and who had worked for my release because of his
friendship for my father, received me in a spirit of paternal trust
and confidence. And that very night I took up again where I had left
off when the prison door had cut short my criminal career. I had no
intention of trying to make good. I had merely repeated my old
meaningless promises in exchange for official favors. So when I sat
before the parole board on this morning I wore the brand of an
habitual criminal. The chairman said to me:
You've betrayed the trust we reposed in you. You were told
what to expect if you did that. Now what have you to say for
I had nothing to say, of course. what could I say? I had
reached the end of my purring promises. I was at the end of my old
reliable resources. I could say nothing but face the music and pay
You've made your own bed, the chairman went on
ruthlessly, and you've made it out of sand-burrs. It's going to be
pretty tough to lie in. But you're going to lie in it this time.
Your sentence calls for from one to twenty years. I wish we had
power to make it life. You've forfeited every right to our sympathy.
We cannot inflict more than the maximum sentence upon you, but we
can inflict that, and you shall be made to serve every minute of
that twenty years, which will amount to eleven years and three
months under the 'good time law,' without ever again having an
opportunity to appear before this board for consideration of parole
My rating was not only that of an habitual criminal. My
criminological rating had me listed as abnormal, criminally
insane, incurably anti-social. I was hopelessly beyond the influence
of reformation. The warden told me no power on earth save a miracle
could ever shorten my sentence one minute.
And yet I sat before that same board five years later and
listened to them talk to me in the friendliest tones. And again, a
year later, I appeared before them again and received their
assurance that I was deserving of another chance. They gave me that
chance and I went out five years in advance of the time set for my
release. Nor did I use any political or other influence whatever.
Indeed, I had only one or two letters of recommendation on file in
my behalf, and these were from persons who had no prestige or
influential power with the state administration.
In that night in 1924 as I sat in my cell on
the receiving gallery, my thoughts were fog-bound. I had been able
to face short terms with a certain degree of equipoise for I could
see through to the end; but now there was no end. Already
dissipation had stamped me with premature old age. After eleven
years and three months I would be fit for nothing, save to join the
pathetic ranks of old broken-down prison lags who, after making
their weary rounds of the various prisons, usually wound up by
appearing voluntarily at some prison gate begging for admittance,
pleading for the privilege of entering and ending their miserable
days in the only sort of home they had ever known.
Yes, by that time, my nerve would be completely gone. I
would not have enough left to commit another crime in order to break
back into prison. I would come doddering back, burned out and
shriveled up, whining and begging for a home and finally a hole in
the prison grave-yard. I could see that sort of end; I could see no
It was to be eleven years and three months on the calendar;
in the terms of emotion it would be a thousand years. I hated myself
that evening as no man has ever hated. One does not know hate who
has only hated the conditions in which he lives; the emotion of hate
that reaches no farther than to God, to decency, to fairness, to
other men, is not hate in its blackest and bitterest sense. One must
hate one's self, wholly, completely, utterly, really to know what
hate means. And that is the way I hated on this dreary, futureless
evening. I could see but one way out. A safety razor blade would
twist me out of my misery. But a better way would be to die with the
guns of the guards roaring in my ears.
At least if I was rubbed out in an effort to escape I would
have made that one effort. The chances were one in a thousand
perhaps, for success. But, there was still that one chance. It would
be better to gamble everything on it, than to go out the cowardly
As I was trying to choose between these two extremes, I
hadn't known that self destruction actually was a cowardly way to
avoid a bad situation. The prisoner in charge of the gallery brought
this fact home to me. I told him in answer to his comment, Looks
kinda tough for you this trip, that if it got too tough I knew how
to remedy the situation.
He cackled mirthlessly, You won't be the first weakling to
take that way out.
It takes nerve to wind up your own ball of yarn, was my
He cackled again. No, you're wrong, it takes nerve to face
the jolt you're facing -- more nerve than you've got, old man. It's
easier to hand in your checks.
I hadn't thought of self destruction in that light.
Obviously he was right. Under the circumstances, it required little
courage to face death; but to face the lingering torment of this
living death, eleven years and three months of it -- to face it --
that took real courage.
It was courage, thank God, that challenged me to combat. I
would not advertise to the whole prison that I was too much of a
weakling to pay the piper. Nor would I knuckle down and become the
docile, broken-spirited lamb. I would face the music, but I would
face it as a rebel, a firebrand, a prison revolutionist.
Naturally, in this attitude of violence, I did nothing but
injure myself. It was the same attitude I carried with me into the
dungeon some three years later -- and left there, never again to be
That I could use the love medium to gain my
freedom never occurred to me of my own accord. After I had
discovered that medium and had began to apply it to my life and the
lives of those around me, I was so thoroughly in harmony with my
environment that time, place and conditions meant nothing. The days
and nights came and went with a smoothness and velocity that was
simply astounding. I seldom could tell any one the day of the week,
and the date of the month was a thing I rarely ever knew. Once I was
asked the day of the week. I didn't know. Then I was asked the date
of the month, and I didn't know that either.
Well, do you know what year it is ? asked my questioner.
And studying some time I was able to answer that one. But my
questioner promptly informed me that I was a year behind time.
So one day when a fellow, and he an official, asked why I
didn't try to get my case up and get out, I was forced to admit that
it had been a long time since I had thought of my freedom. I did
think of it after that, however, although not in a way to disturb my
peace of mind. I had reached the point where, like my old cell-mate,
I didn't care where I was on earth, so long as I could carry on my
experiments for the improvement of myself and others. The idea
of gaining my freedom now held out its reward, not in the freedom
itself, but in the proof or demonstration that it could be gained
by the application of love and thought to creative principle.
When I made up my mind to try it I bumped into a string of
questioning qualms. Always before I had used the principle for
service to others or for the purpose of furthering my own spiritual
and mental interests. To use it now merely to gain my freedom left a
selfish tang in my soul that I drew back from in a sort of moral
recoil. Even though Dad assured me that my qualms were unwarranted,
the feeling continued to persist.
In meditation I sought assurance which didn't come
immediately. The reason: I was shutting myself from the reservoir
of intuitive knowledge by squeezing the channel with strain. I
learned that when you seek the super consciousness for knowledge
about a particular thing, you usually wind up disappointed with
knowledge about nothing. These are most unsatisfying meditations.
My meditations before had been all-embracing. I sought
meditation for the sheer joy of entering that far-flung realm of
super joy. And consequently, having no human desire to hinder bodily
relaxation or to prevent the gradual slowing down process of the
heart and lungs to the state of pulse lessness and breathlessness, I
had been able to contact general wisdom almost at a moment's notice.
But with a particular desire in my mind, I could neither relax nor
receive, because the nature of the desire was always there, and
nothing else could get through or around it.
However, as it later panned out, these futile attempts did
impress themselves upon my subconscious mind, and the subconscious
mind, in turn, took its directions and passed them on to me.
These directions were specific, but not understandable as
applying to my problem. I got them in the form of a dream during
subconscious meditation. I did not at first act upon them, because
they seemed to have no connection with the one thing I wanted to
know: Would I now be justified in using the creative principle
against others in order to influence them to grant me a favor I had
come to consider purely selfish?
Finally one evening, during a desire less meditation, I
received the information that there was no such thing as
selfishness. There was a misuse of supply and a right use of supply.
And with this, of course, I realized that my freedom
rightly used would conform to life's purpose of spiritual growth,
just the same as my imprisonment rightly used had done. We were
punished not for our right uses of law, but for our misuses of law.
The directions I received had to do with the
transmission of telepathic thought over a distance of many miles.
The object of this thought-transmission was the chairman of the
It entailed my having to learn something of this man's
habits. Which I did, working through a friend of mine in the prison
record clerk's office, and he in turn working through the private
secretary of the chairman. I learned a great deal about the home the
chairman occupied, its location. I learned that he usually retired
at ten-thirty each night that business or pleasure did not prevent.
Also, that for about two hours before retiring he sat alone in his
library with his books. I learned many details about this library,
its general appointments, its shape and location in the house, the
reading lamp and the chair where he sat.
With all this information in my hands I was ready to
begin the biggest experiment I had yet undertaken, that of
impressing my personality upon the mind of a man across a vast
distance of space. I had achieved the same thing many times at close
range, and I had no doubt but that the same thing could be
accomplished at long range. And I might add that this very faith was
a great aid to that end.
What I did therefore was to visualize the chairman in his
favorite chair in his library. I did this every night so as not to
miss him on the nights he actually occupied this place. I surrounded
him with an imaginary atmosphere of peace, contentment, comfort,
receptiveness. I thought of him in terms of love, of Christ
likeness. I talked to him with my thoughts, wishing him well. Night
after night, in this imaginary manner, I hovered round. For several
months I kept faithfully and patiently at the experiment, not once
allowing myself to become discouraged in the face of the fact that
nothing seemed to happen. Indeed, as the effort was extended, it
seemed to become almost effortless. In time it grew into a pleasant
endeavor. I grew to feel an exuberant joy in paying this man my
nightly visit, and I also came to feel that he was finding his
library period more and more pleasurable.
Eventually there was added to my directions another piece
of business that apparently had no connection whatever to the
business at hand, but was so urgent that I was forced to get in
touch with Dad Trueblood, who of course had been informed of my
experiment from the first.
I was given an urge to write an essay on a certain topic
and to submit it to the editor of a certain welfare magazine. At
this time the rules of the prison had not yet been lowered to that
place where prisoners were allowed to write for publication. This
restriction, however, was lifted soon after the event just
Dad's advice was prompt and to the point.
Write the essay and send it, he said.
But the warden won't stand for that, I told him.
Besides, what do I know about writing?
In this case you may find out you don't need to know
an-thing about it after you get started. If the urge is genuine, the
thing will write itself. Anyway it's up to you to go ahead.
Well, I told him, I don't know what it's all about, but
I'm game to try anything once.
I don't know whether the essay was good or not. Dad said it
was. The warden said it was. The chairman of the board said it was.
The point is, it was because of it that I was called that second
time before the parole-board, five years after my first appearance
before that body, at which time I had been told I would never be
called there again for consideration of parole matters. As a matter
of fact I wasn't called there for the consideration of parole
matters. But of that later.
After I had finished the essay I carried it to the warden
and asked him if I could send it to the magazine indicated. His
answer was a flat refusal. But he read the essay. When he had
finished, he looked at me with surprise.
Did you write this? he wanted to know.
I admitted the fact.
Well, it's good, he said, and I'm going to put it in the
hands of the chairman of the board.
As I rose to leave he added: You've been making a mighty
good record lately. Keep it up.
When the parole board held its next session at the prison I
was called before it. My essay was lying on the table in front of
the chairman when I entered. I was greeted cordially and told to sit
down. The chairman informed me that I was not there because they had
decided to reopen my case. He picked up the essay and asked me if I
had written it.
Yes, sir, I replied. Or rather it was written for me. My
work was merely stenographic.
He laughed. Well, whoever wrote it, he said, has
expressed sentiments that make for good citizenship.
There was more said, of course, and while I have not given
the verbatim account of the conversation, because I do not remember
the precise words, I have employed dialogue to express the general
trend of the thought. So it has been throughout the writing of this
book wherever conversation has been employed. Where I have been able
to record conversation verbatim, I've done so; where I haven't, due
to a lack of memory, I've tried to copy the actual as nearly as I
Following this incident, I no longer pursued my
experimentation along the telepathic line. I knew that the chairman
of the board now had me in mind and I knew that my prison conduct
was being closely watched at the chairman's request.
I conducted myself as before. I went ahead with my work and
proceeded to forget all about my freedom. When an opportunity arose
whereby I could use the creative principle constructively against
the problems of my fellows, I did so. A year thus passed. Then I was
called before the board again. This time to receive my freedom.
The subject of thought transference is today
under the fire of controversy. I have neither desire nor intention
of presenting this experience as a contribution to telepathic lore.
The argument for or against has no appeal for me whatever. There
may not be such a possibility as transferring thought although my
belief is on the positive side. The weight of my evidence is found
in the results obtained through my experiments.
In this chapter I have described as nearly as I was able,
the exact method used to gain my freedom, to open the door of my
prison. That this method was responsible for the opening of that
door, I sincerely believe to be true. The reader may believe
otherwise. That is a privilege I deny no one. But I might say in
addition, that apart from my description of what occurred, there is
some documentary evidence. The record of this prison will show that
I entered there in the year previously mentioned; that my sentence
was set at eleven years and three months; and that without political
or other influences of any kind, I was released from there five
years in advance of the time fixed by law.
My experience in the prison hospital was rich with evidence
that thought was easily transferred from one mind to another. In
one of the many cases of hysterically induced diseases, I used the
telepathic method exclusively.
The boy was a patient in the tubercular ward. A few months
before he had been in the best of health. Then one day he picked up
a handkerchief near the hospital, took it to his cell, washed it and
began to use it. A day or two later a friend seeing him with an
outside store-bought handkerchief, asked him where he got it, and
the boy told him.
Why you big fool, said the friend. I'll bet one of them
T.B.'s over there threw it out of the window. They're always doing
things like that. They want other people to catch the T.B.
The boy became panicky and began to brood constantly on
what his friend had told him. His appetite began to fade away. He
lost weight and lived in daily and nightly dread of the terrifying
disease. Then he caught a slight cold and developed a cough. He was
sure he had taken tuberculosis. He came on the sick-call to the
hospital and voiced his fears to the doctor. He was put in a room
while an examination was made. He carried no temperature; a sputum
test revealed the presence of no germs. But he could not be
convinced, and a few weeks later when another test was made, he was
running a temperature and the sputum revealed germs.
In the tuberculosis ward I tried every way I could think of
to rid his mind of this morbid disease-thought. But the thought was
so deeply grooved in his subconscious mind that no amount of
conscious suggestion could counter-groove it.
I decided to try telepathy on him while he slept. I knew of
course that these patients were supersensitive and super receptive
to thought force during their waking hours. But I had never tried to
influence one of them while he slept.
At night time in the ward, after nine o'clock, all the
lights were turned off, except one red one in the middle of the
room. Thus I could slip in quietly, make my way through the
semi-darkness, and thus reach his bed-side without disturbing his
slumber. Crouching directly behind the head of his bed, I mentally
called his name, concentrating the full force of my faculties upon
its clear deliberate and sonorous enunciation.
At first I got no visible response. Duties intervening, I
was compelled to conduct my experiment at short intervals throughout
that first night. The following night also evinced nothing
in the way of reward for my efforts. But about three o'clock in the
morning of the third night, he began to manifest a sense of
restlessness during the period I slowly pronounced his name. When my
thoughts of him were withdrawn, he would immediately become quiet
and begin again to breathe evenly.
Of course, I was elated. To me these incidents were not the
accidental disturbances of dream states. I was firmly convinced that
he was being influenced, not by internal forces, but by a force of
thought exuded from my own mind. However, before I accepted this
conviction, I saw the same thing demonstrated repeatedly in more
than a hundred precise experiments.
The last one of its kind conducted, that is, in which his
response was merely a nervous display, happened in the presence of
the night-warder of the hospital and the night-captain of the guard.
More than a dozen times they witnessed his disturbance while I
called to him.. And then when I would raise my hand, indicating to
them that I was going to withdraw my influence, they saw the
tension leave him while he began his quiet even process of breathing
The next experiment brought forth in addition to his
physical reaction, a verbal response. Yet I refused to accept this
as anything genuinely connected with the experiment until he had
repeated it numerous times during the period of my operations. He at
no time spoke over the one word while the experiment was going on.
That one word was mother. It was garbled somewhat, as most words
spoken in dreams. But the thing that was striking about it was that
the inflection was always the same. It was as though his mother
appeared to him in a dream and as though he had been expecting her
to come. Now the boy's mother was dead; but it was obvious the
memory of her still influenced his sub-conscious life.
At this point I made an assumption that, naturally, I had
no way of proving whether or not it was working out as I assumed it
to be working out. But when he would speak the word mother, I would
assume that her personality and influence were with him in a dream,
and I endeavored to make her say the things I wanted her to say. In
other words, while her personality was visible to him in his dream,
I assumed that I was she and I spoke to him with my thoughts in
terms of his health, seeking always, through telepathic suggestion,
to counteract the effect of disease-thought held in his
sub-consciousness, and to replace the disease thought with the
thought of health.
This treatment, together with a carefully planned
tissue-building diet, I am certain was responsible for this
patient's final and complete recovery from the disease that had
taken him very close to death. I am aware that this incident can
prove nothing on behalf of the believers of thought-transference.
But then the motive for my experiment was not to seek proof for or
against a theory. My first interest was in the welfare of my
patient, and my gratitude came when I was able to witness his steady
but certain progress toward recovery. My big thrill of joy arrived
on the day the doctor dismissed him from the hospital with a high
rating of health.
Love and the creative principle. These words mean
absolutely nothing. But to take what they symbolize and incorporate
it into the daily livingness of one's life, means that one has the
key that will unlock all the doors that limit one, in proportion as
one's capacity increases for receiving and using creative power
through the medium of LOVE.
Jesus could use creative power greatly, because He LOVED
greatly. When one's sense of brotherly love is strong enough to die
for the future betterment of one's fellowmen, such a one becomes a
magnificent user of creative power and leaves a heritage the like of
which has kept and will continue to keep the human family in
existence and growing toward its goal of spiritual perfection.
What I have been able to achieve with creative power is
small when compared to what I should like to achieve. In the minds
of my readers, my achievement may not seem great; but to me it is
monumental. I have no doubt, that without this key, my prison door
would still be locked against me, had I not died long ago from the
toxic poisons generated in my system by hate and the philosophy of
this key I am humbly and enormously grateful.
Recovery. Hardcover 1948. 176 pages. Written by Starr Daily
... Recovery. Hardcover 1948. 176 pages. Written by
Starr Daily. Recovery. ... alcoholics
anonymous Starr Daily This is life Click image to see full
size picture. ...
www.aabibliography.com/starrdaily.htm - 15k -
The Third Front Glenn Clark Starr Daily
The Third Front (through the paths of faith, hope and
love) by Glenn Clark,
Starr Daily, Glenn Harding, hard cover, copyright 1944, 232
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starr daily in sermon by Calvin Church Presbyterian Church
... Matthew 9:9-13. My guess is that you’ve never
heard of a man named Starr
Daily, but he was a bad man. ... Remember the story of
Starr Daily? ...
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Love Can Open Prison Doors By Starr Daily
... by Starr Daily top of page
Chapter, Page. Chapter 1. The Last Experiment,
3. ... CHAPTER 1. from the book titled Love Can Open Prison Doors
by Starr Daily. ...