For me, the older prosperity manuals are often the best, and Genevieve Behrend’s writings provide a charming entry point to the genre. It is fascinating to sit down with Your Invisible Power after reading contemporary manifestation and ‘law of attraction’ books like The Secret and Ask And It Is Given, as you realize that that much of their ideas are not new, with Behrend having studied and written about this material 80 years previously. Behrend was the only known pupil of Thomas Troward (1847-1916), a former judge in the Punjab of British India who in his spare time had studied the world’s sacred books and become a metaphysical philosopher.
He was a master, according to Behrend, of “the laws governing the relation on between the individual and the Universal Mind”. In addition to his celebrated Edinburgh lectures, highly praised by philosopher William James, Troward is best known for his book The Creative Process in the Individual, which argues that the fulfilment of our individual personalities is vital for the evolution of the universe. His thinking was seminal in the emergence of the New Thought movement and Ernest Holmes’ ‘Science of Mind’. His work was not easy reading, however, and Behrend took it upon herself to simplify his ideas for a larger audience. In the manner of Florence Scovell Shinn (see Secret Door To Success in 50 Success Classics), who also lived in New York in the 1920's, Behrend’s short book combines spiritual principles with anecdotes of her work to help people appreciate their abundant nature. Compared to its modern counterparts, Your Invisible Power is more focused on visualization to achieve desires, and is also distinguished by its concept that every person is ‘God in miniature’. In practical terms, this means that when you have feelings of lack, you have just forgotten your connection to ‘Divine abundance’.
The three most powerful points I took from the book were;
Some people feel it is ‘too material’ and not spiritual enough to visualize for things. Yet the deliberate manifesting of what we want is exactly what God intended for us to do.
What we ask for is not really important in the larger scheme of things; much more significant is the discovery that we are a ‘co-creator’ in this universe, able to bring almost anything into being if we develop a relaxed belief in its coming.
All these suggestions follow the idea of “Ask, believing you have already received, And you shall receive”
Visualization creates order.
Behrend’s first point is that visualization actually brings order to our minds. The universe, and the Mind behind it, is perfectly ordered, and our use of vivid imagination allows this order to be expressed. We only have airplanes and telephones, she notes, because someone first imagined that such things should exist. All great advances are a triumph of principle over current circumstances or ‘reality’. Reality is a blurry concept when we consider that all things are first created in the mind; at the moment of their imagining they are already part-real. When the Wright brothers were designing and experimenting with their flying machines, these early craft were just the current expression of a perfect image of flight already created. After each failure, it is said that one brother would say to the other, “It’s all right, Brother, I can see myself riding in that machine, and it travels easily and steadily.” With such strong images always in front of them, their success in creating the first workable airplane took on an air of inevitability. As Behrend puts it, “In visualizing, or making a mental picture, you are not endeavoring to change the laws of Nature. You are fulfilling them.” A strong mental image summons the “mysterious but unfailing law of attraction”, which allows things to manifest according to what has been imagined.
The power of strong images.
Behrend notes that “Everyone visualizes, whether he knows it or not”. We all create our futures first in the mind before they are played out in physical reality. This creates the wonderful opportunity of being able to choose those images. There is nothing weird or strange about the process: “Everything in the whole world, from the hat on your head to the boots on your feet, has its beginning in mind and comes into existence in exactly the same manner. All are projected thoughts, solidified.” The laws of visualization, attraction and manifestation are the natural way everything is created. As examples, she mentions James J Hill, the railway magnate, whose road stretching from one coast of America to the other was built in his mind years before the first track was actually laid, and the millionaire Australian grazier James Tyson, who made the Australian deserts “blossom as the rose”. Even when he was working for a few shillings a day as a bushman, she notes, he “…simply kept his thought centered upon the idea of making fences and seeing flowers and grass where none existed at that time.” Yet what Hill and Tyson did we all do to achieve a goal. The image of what we want is strong enough to pull ourselves into action. Behrend refers to a rather beautiful statement from Paul in the Bible to sum up what she is saying: “The worlds were formed by the word of God. Things which are seen are not made of things which do appear.”
Expressions of divine abundance.
“The Great Architect of the Universe contemplated Himself as manifesting through his polar opposite—matter”. Behrend goes to some lengths to explain the theology behind what she describes as the ‘law of attraction’. As the above quote indicates, there is a Creative Power, Universal Mind or God that generates the universe and which, for completion’s sake, likes to see thought manifested in physical form. Human beings are like the Creative Power in miniature, also able to turn thoughts into reality, to literally make their own worlds in the same way that God has total command over the universe. Human beings exist so that the Universal Mind can be differentiated, expressed in an endless variety of personalities. Therefore, by visualizing and then bringing something into form, we are fulfilling God’s will for us to be unique and powerful. We fulfil our personality by creating something out of nothing. Behrend notes that some people feel it is ‘too material’ and not spiritual enough to visualize for things. Yet the deliberate manifesting of what we want is exactly what God intended for us to do. God creates with total ease and joy; so should you.
People visited Behrend at her New York rooms. Some wanted to manifest money, others sought to be healed in some way. Many were in desperation. They were about to lose their business, or their wife had left them. She would calmly assert to each that they had not been separated from their ‘good’; that this only an illusion. To bring back their happiness or well-being, what they first had to do was reconnect to ‘Universal Substance’ or God. Behrend recalls a man who came to her who was about to lose the beloved home he had grown up in the American South. Creditors were about to foreclose and he did not know what to do. She quietly affirmed to him that the same universal Power that brought him into the world “…did so for the purpose of expressing its limitless supply through him”. Nothing could cut him off from this Source, and the feeling of lack he was experiencing had no truth. She told him, “Infinite substance is manifesting in you right now”. The following week, just before she was about to deliver a lecture, Behrend received a message from the man. Money had come through in a miraculous way, and he had been able to telegraph an amount sufficient to pay off the mortgage. “Please tell the people this afternoon”, he wrote, “about this wonderful Power”. You may feel ashamed to ask for what you want, but in these moments remember Behrend’s idea that you are simply a smaller version of the Universal Mind or God. It is your nature to constantly desire and bring into being new things. Therefore, she writes, “Do not fear to be your true self, for everything you want, wants you.”
How she manifested $20,000.
People often asked Behrend what led her to study ‘mental science’ and the laws of prosperity. She always welcomed these inquiries, since she believed that a person who claimed to know psychological truths should have first tested them on themselves. After her husband died she was bereft, but had been left enough money to live on. She wandered the world, but without inner contentment or direction. She studied Christian Science for a while, and even met Mary Baker Eddy, but did not stick with it. A friend invited her to meet Abdul Baha, the seer and son of the founder of the Bahai faith, who told her that she would “travel the world over seeking the truth, and when [she] had found it, would speak it out”. Her epiphany came when she discovered a book containing Troward’s lectures. In her state of mind she immediately fell upon a certain passage, which promised that, because our individual minds are each “a center of the Divine Mind”, we can experience contentment and perpetual growth in the manner of God. At that point, Behrend resolved to study with Troward, but realized she would need more money than she had to do so. She was then in New York and Troward in Cornwall, England. She began a visualization routine every night and morning of counting out twenty $1,000 bills, and seeing herself buying her ticket to London, travelling on the ship, and being accepted as Troward’s pupil. She constantly affirmed to herself, “My mind is a center of Divine operations”, yet did not think about how she would actually get the money (she had no idea – it seemed such a large amount). Instead, she would “let the power of attraction find its own ways and means.” Thanks to this work in faith and visualization the money did materialize, coming from a source she would never have thought of. In only about six weeks, it had gone from being an image in her mind to the reality of her bank account.
Believe you already have it.
Reflecting on the achievement of her aim, she recalls the Biblical promise, “All things whatsoever thou wilt, believe thou hast received, and thou shalt receive.” That is, when the idea of receiving something becomes quite normal to you, it will happen as surely as night follows day. Anticipating the doubt of the reader, Behrend asks; how you can proclaim faith in something when you do not have the faith? In such times, she says, you have to recall and observe what faith does. Recall your state of mind when you simply had to bring something into being – and you did - and create that state of mind again.
She observes; your inhibition of all doubt and anxiety enables the reassuring ideas to establish themselves and attract to themselves “I can” and “I will” ideas, which gradually grow into the physical form of the desire in your mind. By deliberately choosing positive thoughts, you set in train the attraction of more ‘can do’ thoughts, which can only result in positive, powerful action. The clarity of what you are visualizing, combined with your relaxed faith, makes you more open to receive the ideas and opportunities you need to achieve your goal. At the end of the book she provides suggestions on ‘How to Pray or Ask’. All these suggestions follow the idea of “Ask, believing you have already received, And you shall receive”
What I took from it.
The critical view of books like this, even more so their modern equivalents, is that they panders to our materialistic sides. Is it really a good use of our visualizing powers, for instance, to manifest a new BMW? This, however, would be missing the point. What we ask for is not really important in the larger scheme of things; much more significant is the discovery that we are a ‘co-creator’ in this universe, able to bring almost anything into being almost if we develop a relaxed belief in its coming. With this knowledge we can never be a victim of circumstances, but rather a center of power. Some readers will feel that Your Invisible Power has too much spiritual mumbo-jumbo in it, but this simply reflects Behrend’s efforts to convey Troward’s complex theology. A Christian who had a major influence on the development of Mental Science, his thinking was in fact based squarely on reason, and he resolutely opposed to any kind of occult learning.
The goal of Behrend’s writing was to help people develop a ‘magnetic mind’ that can draw desired things or circumstances to them. Whether you choose to believe these processes are purely physiological or involved spiritual forces is up to you. What matters more is whether they work, and you won’t know if they do until you try them out.