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Ego Happens


When the first edition of Finding True Magic was released in 1996, readers were quite surprised. It wasn’t that I had brought together East and West in the context of hypnotherapy and NLP, but that the book looked through the lens of Eastern philosophies to show how the ego shapes our thoughts and experience. The result astonished people, many of whom previously believed that, if they (or their clients) came to therapy with a “problem,” that problem demanded a solution. My approach, however, rendered the problem itself  null and void, even absurd, simply by showing the keeper of the problem how the process of egoic minding” kept the problem alive and made it seem “important and urgent” (as in Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix).

In a section of the book called “Models of the Psyche, Concepts of Reality” I explained how the Vedic tradition of India gives the name “Shakti” to the energy that underlies and controls all phenomenal reality. Shakti is female because she gives birth to everything.  She is us, and we are her. On the other hand, the unmanifest reality (out of which the Shakti arises) is called Shiva, the immovable, indestructible witness of Shakti’s play. Shiva is Shakti’s  male consort, her lover. Locked in eternal embrace — the two are one and the same, yet different, always ecstatically merging and moving apart, only to merge once again.

The special aspect of Shakti called “Matrika Shakti” is the power of illusion. At the root of this power is Language. Words are the primordial hypnosis, the building blocks of the thinking mind.

In the Eastern philosophical approach to NLP, we look at the dream- creating power of our thinking minds. We have to access our “Shivahood” to do this — our awareness that underlies the play of thoughts. Otherwise, hypnotherapy becomes just the shifting of one trance for another, and we stay caught in the realm of the most powerful and subtle trance: egoic minding. In the book I call it “minding”, not mind, because it is not a thing — it’s a process. Until the process of egoic minding is dissolved completely, we  have to use awareness to stay alert to its tricks of illusion. This applies whether the egoic minding is in yourself or in an “other.”

Ego happens. It’s happening all the time, but you have to be on the lookout, or you’ll miss the whole Shiva-Shakti show.

This description bothered some people because it short-circuited the egoic underpinnings of people’s problems. I was saying it wasn’t necessary to sit and talk for years about our pains and problems. Instead of being laborious, I asserted, positive transformation could be quick, easy, and even delightful. The egoic minding doesn’t have a true sense of humor, so humor is a powerful tool in breaking its spell. Humor arises out of awareness. Awareness of what? Awareness of 1) not being the thinking; 2) not being an object being thought about; and 3) awareness of being the awareness without having to think about it.

That might sound intimidating, but it really isn’t. It’s just me playing around. And the more you play with this stuff, the closer you get to seeing what’s real and what’s not.

Want to try an experiment?

Consider the following (and at the same time, remain aware that you’re thinking):

1) people’s problems are always about themselves as the object of the problem

2) in order to be the object you have to be something

3) That something is always an idea (or set of ideas), in other words, a suggestion (hypnosis!) of who and what you are. But it’s never really what you are (and what are you, anyway?).

In other words, the problems we have are all about a false self, an idea of self. A problem is no more than a trance, an illusion. So in theory, you could just walk away from it. What makes it so hard to walk away, then? The subtlety and complexity of the shadowy dualistic play of egoic minding (our blind spots).

In the world of Western psychotherapy this was a controversial viewpoint at the time. But I was really just passing on what I’d learned from my teachers: Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and Gurumayi Chidvilasananda. The Buddhist and Vedic traditions had been pointing out this wisdom to their students for generations.

I’ve been using this method, Transpersonal  Hypnotherapy/NLP, for over 20 years now. Thousands who have experienced positive results can attest to its effectiveness. Read testimonials from clients,  students, and readers of Finding True Magic

If this blog post piqued your curiosity, you might enjoy Finding True Magic HypnoTips. It comes to you just once a month, rain or shine, and it’s free.


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