“You are the reincarnated Napoleon Bonaparte, conqueror of the world.” – Bunker Bean
The mystic spoke with authority, “You are the reincarnated Napoleon Bonaparte, conqueror of the world.” Bunker Bean stood in amazement. How could such a nobody, a loser, a zero, be such a mighty leader? Harry Leon Wilson, who in 1912 penned the novel Bunker Bean, says it all started when Bunker Bean became an orphan as a small child. Alone and poor, always dressed in ragged clothes that hung loosely from his small frame he was mocked and taunted by cruel, merciless children. Fear greeted him when he awoke in the morning and remained his constant companion until sleep put it to rest. He was afraid of everything: elevators, dogs, children, grownups, policemen, things, situations, the future, life…and even himself.
One fateful day a mystic moved into the cheap, rat-infested boarding house and rented the room next to Bunker Bean. A friendship developed during the next few weeks. The mystic’s preoccupation with a book on reincarnation captured Bunker’s imagination. He learned that his new friend believed that all people had had previous lives as someone else before being born into their present lives.
The more Bunker Bean thought about this new idea, the more he believed it. One evening after dinner the mystic proclaimed that he and he alone could see into the past and could tell who Bunker Bean was in his past lives. A small pittance of money, which Bunker could ill afford, was delivered to the mystic for the declaration. Bunker followed the mystic to his room and after a few minutes of incantations and trance-producing gyrations, his friend loudly proclaimed… “Bunker Bean, you are the reincarnated Napoleon Bonaparte, conqueror of the world!”
Timidly Bunker Bean asked, “How could I, who am afraid even of my own shadow, have been the feared and courageous Napoleon?”
The mystic explained that life goes in cycles. “Sometimes you are born during the upper part of the cycle and sometimes during the lower part. Napoleon lived on the upper part when he exhibited the qualities of courage, initiative, strength, determination, and power.” Bunker Bean then learned that his present life was the result of being born during the lower part of the cycle.
Depressed, he turned to leave; but the mystic yelled in a high-pitched voice, “Bunker, the lower part of the cycle is almost completed! You are now reentering the upper part-the same part you were in when you were Napoleon!” The mystic assured Bunker that it would not be many days before he would feel a change taking place and know the prediction was true. “Even as we speak, you are on your way to becoming courageous, determined, strong, self-reliant, fearless, and successful,” whispered the mystic.
The very thought that he was once Napoleon caused him to stand a little straighter. By the end of the first day he could even detect hints of the promised change. Now that he thought about it, there was a certain majesty in his look; he began to take on a certain warrior-air. When he thought of his “true” identity, Napoleon, he vibrated with a strange new power and determination.
Bunker Bean spent every spare moment reading books about Napoleon. He hung the great general’s pictures in the little dirty attic room where he could feast his mind upon his former self. He tried standing, thinking, and acting like Napoleon. The image never left his mind. Even when he was confronted with fear he merely thought, “How would Napoleon feel and what would he do?” and the fear vanished.
He discovered that Napoleon was a master strategist, winning his battles in his tent. Bunker decided he too, would plan, organize, and think out problems before facing them. He thought of every fear, obstacle, challenge, and danger he might face during the day and determined how Napoleon would react. Like Napoleon he made sure nothing was left to chance.
The large, colored picture of Napoleon was a constant reminder to Bunker of the great power and strength hidden in his breast. He visualized himself leading and directing vast armies. He vividly imagined the smell of gunpowder, smoke, and blood.
Something strange began to happen to Bunker Bean. He started acting like Napoleon. He forgot his timidity, his fears, his meager existence. Each challenge was faced with, “How would Napoleon handle it?” He began applying the same principles that made Napoleon great. His fellow workers and employer were amazed at the change in his personality. His boss gave him a more responsible position. Bunker Bean began to feel and be successful.
Not only did Bunker Bean change, but he was amazed at the way people were reacting to him. They wanted to be near him and even follow him as they would a leader. Seeing the changes in these people suggest to him that they might know his real identity.
Years went by and Bunker Bean continued his rise in life and fortune. But one day, when he was pondering over his greatness as Napoleon, he thought, “Before Napoleon who was I?” He searched for and found his old friend and inquired of him.
“That will cost you greatly!” said the mystic.
“Money is no problem now; just tell me.”
The answer he received did not disappoint him. Before he was Napoleon, he was the greatest ruler the world had ever known. He was Ramses, the mighty Egyptian Pharaoh. Bunker learned that as Ramses he was tall and handsome and dressed meticulously. Bunker hired a professional tailor to fit him in such a way as to enhance his physical characteristics. His new clothes made him feel like a king and so he began acting like a king. He stood tall, expanded his chest, drew in his waist, and stood erect. He worked to develop the physical and mental discipline of Ramses. He had already discovered that it takes a vivid mental image along with matching behavior to bring to the present the great qualities of the past. He was a king and must, therefore, do as kings do. Money, for example, was not an issue, because kings always have as much as they want. Bunker knew that when money was needed it would be available…and it was. He was becoming a wealthy man.
Bunker Bean was invited to direct large organizations. He was a leader because he thought like a leader and acted like a leader. Never again would he be afraid of life, policemen, mockery, or himself. He was the mighty Pharaoh of Egypt. He was born to be a king. His destiny was to rule and so he would do those things that characterized greatness.
The mental image grew stronger with each passing day and in direct proportion strength, vitality, and excitement for life surged through his veins. Not only had he been the courageous, mighty Napoleon, but also the strong, calm, and powerful Ramses. He was a combination of them both. He thought courage at night and awoke in the morning with a giant’s strength. His visualization poured the nutrients into his personality to mold and fashion a king and a conqueror.
But one morning tragedy entered Bunker Bean’s life– tragedy that neither Napoleon nor Ramses could combat. He discovered that his mystic friend was a fake, a con-artist. There really was no such thing as reincarnation. He really hadn’t been Napoleon or Ramses. He really was nothing more than his weak, timid, fearful, insignificant self.
Bunker Bean was a beaten man for a few moments. Then, as if by revelation, he thought, “When I believed myself to be a king, others reacted as if I were a king. When I believed myself to be weak and timid others reacted as if I were weak and timid.”
A new and inspiring truth now dawned upon him. “I can be anything I can imagine and visualize in my mind.” During the years he had believed himself to be the reincarnated Napoleon and Ramses, he had accumulated great wealth and position, yet no one had known about his belief except his mystic friend. He had gained all by believing that he could do it. He believed in himself and his dreams. Ramses and Napoleon were only crude bits of scaffolding on which he had climbed to success.
Bunker Bean had discovered these great truths:
Every man is born a king. Every man is born to riches.
Every man is born to greatness. To believe…is all that matters.