Jose Silva was
born August 11, 1914, in Laredo, Texas. When he was four, his father died. His
mother soon remarried, and he, his older sister, and younger brother moved in
with their grandmother. Two years later he became the family bread-winner,
selling newspapers, shining shoes, and doing odd jobs. In the evenings he
watched his sister and brother do their homework, and they helped him learn to
read and write. He has never gone to school, except to teach.
Jose's rise from poverty
began one day when he was waiting his turn in a barbershop. He reached for
something to read. What he picked up was a lesson from a correspondence course
on how to repair radios. Jose asked to borrow it, but the barber would only rent
it, and that on condition that Jose complete the examinations in the back
in the barber's name. Each week Jose paid a dollar, read the lesson, and
completed the examination.
Soon a diploma hung
in the barbershop, while across town Jose, at the age of fifteen, began to
repair radios. As the years passed, his repair business became one of the
largest in the area, providing money for the education of his brother and
sister, the wherewithal for him to marry, plus eventually some half-million
dollars to finance the twenty years of research that led to Mind Control.
Another man with
diplomas, these more conscientiously earned than the barber's, inadvertently
sparked this research. The man was a psychiatrist whose job it was to ask
questions of men being inducted into the Signal Corps during World War II.
"Do you wet your
bed?" Jose was dumbfounded.
"Do you like women?" Jose, the father of three, and
destined one day to be the father of ten, was appalled.
Surely, he thought,
the man knew more about the human mind than the barber knew about radios. Why
such stupid questions?
It was this
perplexing moment that started Jose on an odyssey of scientific research that
led to his becoming - without diplomas or certificates - one of the most
creative scholars of his age. Through their writings, Freud, Jung, and Adler
became his early teachers.
The stupid questions
took on deeper meanings, and soon Jose was ready to ask a question of his own:
Is it possible, using hypnosis, to improve a person's learning ability - in
fact, raise his I.Q.? In those days I.Q. was believed to be something we were
born with, but Jose was not so sure.
The question had to
wait while he studied advanced electronics to become an instructor in the Signal
Corps. When he was discharged, with savings gone and $200 in his pocket, he
began slowly to rebuild his business. At the same time he took a half-time
teaching job at Laredo Junior College, where he supervised three other teachers
and was charged with creating the school's electronics laboratories.
Five years later,
with television on the scene, his repair business began to flourish and Jose
called a halt to his teaching career. His business once again became the largest
in town. His workdays ended about nine each night. He would have dinner, help
put the children to bed, and when the house was quiet, study for about three
hours. His studies led him further into hypnosis.
What he learned about
hypnosis, plus what he knew about electronics, plus some F's on his children's
report cards brought him back to the question he had raised earlier - can
learning ability, the I.Q., be improved through some kind of mental training?
Jose already knew
that the mind generates electricity - he had read about experiments that
revealed the Alpha rhythm early in this century. And he knew from his work in
electronics that the ideal circuit is the one with the least resistance, or
impedance, because it makes the greatest use of its electrical energy. Would the
brain work more effectively too if its impedance were lowered? And can
its impedance be lowered?
Jose began using
hypnosis to quiet the minds of his children and he discovered what to many
appeared to be a paradox: He found that the brain was more energetic when it was
less active. At lower frequencies the brain received and stored more
information. The crucial problem was to keep the mind alert at these
frequencies, which are associated more with daydreaming and sleep than with
the receptivity Jose was looking for, but not the kind of independent thought
that leads to reasoning things out so they can be understood. Having a head full
of remembered facts is not enough; insight and understanding are necessary, too.
Jose soon abandoned
hypnosis and began experimenting with mental training exercises to quiet the
brain yet keep it more independently alert than in hypnosis. This, he reasoned,
would lead to improved memory combined with understanding and hence to higher
The exercises from
which Mind Control evolved called for relaxed concentration and vivid mental
visualization and ways of reaching lower levels. Once reached, these levels
proved more effective than Beta in learning. The proof was in his children's
sharply improved grades over a three-year period while he continued to improve
Jose had now scored a
first - a very significant one, which other research, principally biofeedback,
has since confirmed. He was the first person to prove that we can learn to
function with awareness at the Alpha and Theta frequencies of the brain.
Another first, an
equally astonishing one, was soon to come.