.

.

POSTS BY SUBJECT

POSTS BY SUBJECT

''ESTONIA'' (15) "Hindenburg" (2) “Yom Kippur” War (1) 2017 Westminster attack (1) 20th_Century (3) 7/7 London bombings (38) 911 (392) A.H.M. RAMSAY (2) Abu Ghraib (1) ADL (1) ADOLF_HITLER (23) ADVENTURE (1) Affirmative Action (1) Afghanistan (7) AFRICA (47) African Origins (1) Agriculture (3) AIDS (25) Al Azhar University (1) Alain de Benoist (15) Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (34) Alois Irlmaier (1) AMAZONIA (3) America (4) American Islamization (21) American Universities (2) American_Indian (1) Ancient Egypt (1) ANCIENT_CIVILISATIONS (2) Angels (1) Animal_Rights (6) ANTEDILUVIAN_CIVILISATION (15) Anthony Blunt (1) Anthony Ludovici (3) ANTHROPOLOGY (7) Anti-Semitism (3) Antifa (2) Apartheid (1) AR. LEESE (4) ARCHAEOLOGY (3) Argentina (1) Armenia (4) Armenian Genocide (1) Art (15) Arthur Koestler (1) Astronomy (30) ATHEISM (1) AUSTRALIA (2) AUSTRIA (1) Ayaan Hirsi Ali (3) Baha'i faith (1) BALI (1) Balkans (4) Bangladesh (2) banned_weapons (1) Barbarossa (2) BELGIUM (2) Benjamin Freedman (1) BENJAMIN SOLARI PARRAVICINI (11) Beslan (1) Bill Clinton (1) Biological Warfare (2) Black America (2) BLACK RACE (14) BLOOD PASSOVER (12) BOLSHEVIK REVOLUTION (16) Book purge (1) Boycottage (1) Brainwashing (1) BRAZIL (1) BREXIT (1) Brigitte Gabriel (1) British politics (1) Buddhism (5) California (1) Cambodia (8) CANADA (10) CANCER (40) Carolina bays (1) Celebrities-Show Business (3) Cell Phone towers (6) Censorship in Europe (7) Central Europe (1) CENTRAL_ASIA (1) Central/South America (1) Ch. Bollyn (30) Charles Tart (8) Charlie Hebdo (1) Che Guevara (2) CHEMTRAILS (13) CHINA (6) Christian Zionism (1) CHRISTIANISM (46) CHRISTIANISM in EUROPE (1) Churchill (7) CINEMA (2) Circumcision (10) CLIMATE (7) Climate Change (8) cluster bombs/mines (2) Cold Fusion (1) COLD_FUSION (1) COLONIALISM (1) Colonization of Europe (29) Commerce (1) Communism (49) CONGO (5) Consciousness (9) Conspiracies (8) Consumerism (1) contemporary society (11) COPTS (1) Cosmogony (1) Crime (5) Criminal_Sciense (1) CRIMINALITY (2) crop circles (5) CUBA (16) Cultural Marxism (8) DARFUR (3) Dead Sea Scrolls (1) Death penalty in ISLAM (1) Death-Bed Visions (1) DECADANT_ART (1) Deir Yassin (8) Democracy (1) DENMARK (3) Depleted uranium (6) DIAMOND CARTELS (1) DIANA (10) DIETRICH ECKART (1) DILUVIUM (5) Disney (2) DOGS (1) Donald TRUMP (7) Dönmeh (1) Doppelgangers (1) Dresden (6) DRUG ADDICTION (1) E.U. (11) Eastern Europe (2) ECHELON (1) ECONOMY (14) EDUCATION (4) Egypt (11) Eisenhower (4) El Inglés (2) Elie Wiesel (1) Elite_Child_Sex_Rings (16) Elizabeth Taylor (1) ENERGY (9) Enoch Powell (1) environmentalism (10) Ernst Zundel (1) EUROPE viz. ISLAM (11) EUROPE's FUTURE (10) European Parliament (1) EUROPEAN UNION (11) EUROPEAN_IDENTITY (4) Eustace Mullins (10) Evidence for the Afterlife (2) EVOLUTION (9) EXPLORATIONS (1) Ezra Pound (1) Facebook (1) FALSE_HISTORY (2) Fascism (4) Fashion industry (1) FATIMA (9) Female Genital Mutilation (2) FEMINISM (17) FINLAND (2) Fjordman (7) Flight 007 (1) Fluoride (1) Food (11) FRANCE (31) FRANCE viz. ISLAM (4) Francis P. Yockey (5) Frankfurt School (2) Franklin D. Roosevelt (6) freedom of speech (1) Fukushima (2) G7 (1) Gas chambers (1) gay marriage (1) Gaza (1) Geert Wilders (9) GENDERISM (1) genetically modified organisms (GMO) (8) Georges Bensoussan (2) German National Socialism (14) GERMANY (45) GERMANY viz. ISLAM (3) Gilad Atzmon (11) Global warming (2) Globalism (5) Great Britain (59) Great Pyramid (16) GREECE (2) GREENPEACE (3) Guatemala (1) Guillaume Faye (1) Gulag (3) Gulf War (1) Gulf War Syndrome (1) Gun control (1) Guylaine Lanctot (2) HAARP (10) Hans Günther (8) Harry Potter (1) HEALTH (114) HEMP (1) Henry Makow (2) Hidden History (15) HIDDEN HYPNOSIS TECHNIQUES (1) Hiroshima (5) Historical Review (67) History_of_IDEAS (3) HMS Hampshire (3) Hollow Earth (22) Hollywood (11) Holocaust (140) HOLODOMOR_1932-33 (17) Homosexuality (6) Horst Mahler (4) Howard Hughes (1) Human Equality (1) HUMAN_ORIGINS (2) HUMAN_RIGHTS (2) Humanitarian politics (1) Humorous (2) HUNGARY (2) HYPERBOREA (7) IAN STEVENSON (13) ICELAND (1) Image of Guadalupe (2) Immigration (18) IMPORTANT (5) INDIA (24) IndoEuropean (12) Indonesia (4) INFECTIOUS DISEASES EPIDEMICS (1) Infrasound Weapons (1) Intellectual_freedom (1) Intelligence (19) Intelligent design (8) International Criminal Tribunal (3) INTERNET (2) INTERRACIAL_RELATIONS (1) INTIMIDATION (3) INVENTIONS (3) IQ (3) IRAN (11) Iranian regime violence (1) IRAQ (22) IRAQ_war (11) IRELAND (2) ISLAM (329) Islam in Europe/America (92) ISLAM in RUSSIA (1) ISLAM propagandists (4) ISLAMIST INTIMIDATION (24) ISLAMIST_VIOLENCE (41) ISLAMIZATION OF EUROPE (72) Islamophobia (6) ISRAEL (129) Israel Supreme Court (1) ISRAEL-ARAB RELATIONS (10) ISRAEL's_ATOMIC_BOMB (4) ISRAEL/EU RELATIONS (1) ITALY (7) J.Kaminski (4) Japan (2) Jewish History (1) Jewish Question (1) JEWS (117) JEWS in GERMANY (1) JEWS/ISRAEL-USA_relations (53) JFK Assassination (28) JFK/RFK (2) Jihad (15) Jo Cox (6) Joe Sobran (4) John Bryant (17) John Lear (3) Journalists (2) Julius Evola (38) Jyllands-Posten newspaper (1) Kafirs (1) Karl Marx (1) Katie King (1) Katyn (11) Kennedys (1) KENYA (1) Kevin MacDonald (38) KHAZARs (1) Knut Hamsun (1) Kurdistan (2) KURDS (2) Lasha Darkmoon (13) Laurel Canyon (4) Layla Anwar (4) LEBANON (3) LEFT (17) Liberalism (1) Lord Kitchener (4) Lord Northcliff (1) Lost Civilisations (2) Lost Technology (1) LYDDA (1) MADELEINE McCANN (4) Magic (1) Magnesium (7) Mahathir (1) Mahatma Gandhi (4) Malaysia (2) Manchester Terror Attack (1) Manchester terrorist attack (11) Manipulation (69) MAPS (1) Mark Weber (10) Mass immigration_Multiculturalism (35) Mass_Media (3) Mass-Psychology (3) Massacres (1) May-June 2017 London Jihadist attacks (4) Medjugorje apparitions (3) METEMPSYCHOSIS (17) MEXICO (1) MH370 (2) MIDDLE EAST (45) Military Tribunal at Nuremberg (11) MIND CONTROL (26) MONEY-Banking (8) Monsanto (9) Morality (1) Mormonism (1) Mortacracy (6) MULTICULTURALISM (5) MUSIC MAFIA (2) Muslim Brotherhood (5) Muslim Honor Killings (1) Muslim Persecution of Christians (2) MUSLIMS IN EUROPE (72) Mussolini (3) Mysterious (69) Mysterious_SKY (1) Nathuram Godse (3) National Memorial and Arboretum (1) Native Americans (1) Neapolis (1) NESSIE (17) Netherlands (10) New World Order (4) NEW_ZEALAND (1) NGOs (2) Nicolai Sennels (1) no-go zones (2) NOAM CHOMSKY (4) Nonie Darwish (13) North Africa (3) NORWAY (2) Norway massacre (5) NUCLEAR (12) Nutrition (20) Obama (2) Occult Symbols (21) Oklahoma City bombing (7) OLYMPIC_GAMES (13) OPINION (9) Orel_Yiftachel (5) Organized Jewry (11) P. Buchanan (26) PACIFISM (1) PAEDOPHILIA (15) Paganism (2) PAKISTAN (2) PALESTINE 1944-1948 (1) Palestinians (19) PARIS (1) Patrice Lumumba (1) PATRICIA HEARST (2) Patton (2) Paul Craig Roberts (1) Paul Weston (9) PEARL HARBOR (1) Persecuted Christians (7) PERSONALITIES (1) Philosophy of Civilization (1) Photographic_Archive (1) Photography (2) Physics (9) POLAND (5) POLAR REGIONS (30) Poliomyelitis (8) Political Thought (52) Pollution (3) Polynesia (25) Pope Benedict (1) Popular Culture (2) POPULATION FORECAST (2) Pornography (2) PORTUGAL (6) PREHISTORY (28) propaganda (3) Prophecies (14) Psychedelics (66) PSYCHIATRY (10) Psychical Research (124) Psychology (6) QATAR (2) QUEBEC (1) Queen Victoria (1) R.R.Rife (10) Race (131) RACE MIXING (1) Racism (4) RAPE statistics (1) RED_Alert (4) Religion (27) René Guénon (1) Revilo Oliver (16) Richard Dawkins (1) Riyadh address to the Muslim world (1) Robert Faurisson (1) Rockefellers (1) Roger Garaudy (6) Roman Catholic Church (12) Ron Paul (7) Rudolph Hess (1) Ruling_by_CORRUPTION (14) RUSSIA (8) RUSSIAN REVOLUTION (1) RWANDA (31) S. H. Pearson (1) Sabra-Shatila massacre (10) Sandy Hook (1) Sanskrit (1) SAUDI ARABIA (6) Savitri Devi (27) Scandinavia (1) SCIENCE (45) Secret Military Technology (14) Secret weapons (10) Sedition Trial (1) SERBIA (1) sexual freedom (6) Sexualization of Culture (6) Sinister sites (11) Skepticism (1) Slave trade (1) SOUTH AFRICA (10) Space/Apollo_Hoax (54) SPAIN (4) Spanish Civil War (1) Spengler (6) Spirituality (1) Srebrenica (1) STALINISM (1) State_criminality (8) Steganography (16) Steven Yates (7) STRANGE SOUNDS (4) Subterranean_world (10) SUDAN (2) SUPERNATURAL (16) Surveillance (1) SWASTIKA (33) Swaziland (1) SWEDEN (15) Switzerland (1) SYRIA (8) Taj Mahal (13) Ted Kaczynski (1) Terrorism (43) TESLA (6) The 1001 Club (1) The Celts (1) The Cultural Integration Initiative (1) THE END OF WHITE RACE (20) The Great Flood (8) The Irish Savant (9) The Mass Rape of German Women by the Red Army (1) The Nuremberg Trials (5) The plutonium injections (4) the Wealth of Nations (2) Theo van Gogh (1) Thought of the Right (63) TITANIC (72) Tommy Robinson (1) Torture (1) Tradition (5) Transatlantic Slave Trade (1) Transcendent Experience (6) TRUMP _Administration (1) Tunguska (1) Tunisia (2) TURKEY (8) TWA flight 800 (1) U.S.A. (143) U.S.A. ARMY CRIMINALITY (18) U.S.A. Foreign policy (14) U.S.A. Military (2) U.S.A._EDUCATION (1) U.S.A._HISTORY (2) U.S.A._POLITICS (13) U.S.A._SOCIETY (10) U.S.A.-CIA (13) U.S.A.-Power Structure (8) U.S.S. Liberty (8) UFOs (166) Ukraine (15) United Church of Christ (1) United Nations (3) UNKNOWN_EARTH (2) USA (3) USA_Press (2) USA/USSR_relations (2) USS San Francisco (1) USSR (55) Vaccination (1) VATICAN (12) Vatican II (3) VELIKOVSKY (2) Vernon Coleman (14) Voynich_manuscript (15) WAFA SULTAN (1) War Crimes (36) water (2) Wayne MADSEN (2) WEST (16) WEST viz. ISLAM (11) WEST/ISLAM Relations (23) Western Masochism (1) WESTERN_ELITES (5) White Guilt (1) White phosphorous (1) White Race (7) WILD_LIFE (1) Wilhelm Reich (4) William Gough (10) wind farms (1) Wm F. Koch (8) Women in Islam (9) World Wildlife Fund (8) WORLD_ORDER (57) WWI (6) WWII (98) WWII Aftermath (42) WWIII (1) Younger Dryas Ice Age (4) Yugoslavia (8) Zimbabwe (1) ZIONISM (12)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sutphen-The Battle for Your Mind


The Battle for Your Mind: Brainwashing Techniques Being Used On The Public By Dick Sutphen


Summary of Contents
The Birth of Conversion
The Three Brain Phases
How Revivalist Preachers Work
Voice Roll Technique
Six Conversion Techniques
    1. keeping agreements
    2.physical and mental fatigue
    3. increase the tension
    4. Uncertainty.
    5. Jargon
    6. No humor
    Stockholm Syndrome
Decognition Process
    Step One is ALERTNESS REDUCTION
    Step Two is PROGRAMED CONFUSION
    Step Three is THOUGHT STOPPING
True Believers & Mass Movements
Persuasion Techniques
    YES SET
    TRUISMS
    SUGGESTION
    Imbedded Commands
    INTERSPERSAL TECHNIQUE
    Visualisation
    SHOCK AND CONFUSION
Subliminal Programming
Mass Misuse
Vibrato
Extra Low Frequencies
The Neurophone


Summary of Contents

The Birth of Conversion/Brainwashing in Christian Revivalism in 1735. The Pavlovian explanation of the three brain phases. Born-again preachers: Step-by-Step, how they conduct a revival and the expected physiological results. The "voice roll" technique used by preachers, lawyers and hypnotists. New trance-inducing churches. The 6 steps to conversion. The decognition process. Thought-stopping techniques. The "sell it by zealot" technique. True believers and mass movements. Persuasion techniques: "Yes set," "Imbedded Commands," "Shock and Confusion," and the "Interspersal Technique." Subliminals. Vibrato and ELF waves. Inducing trance with vibrational sound. Even professional observers will be "possessed" at charismatic gatherings. The "only hope" technique to attend and not be converted. Non-detectable Neurophone programming through the skin. The medium for mass take-over.
I'm Dick Sutphen and this tape is a studio-recorded, expanded version of a talk I delivered at the World Congress of Professional Hypnotists Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. Although the tape carries a copyright to protect it from unlawful duplication for sale by other companies, in this case I invite individuals to make copies and give them to friends or anyone in a position to communicate this information.
Although I've been interviewed about the subject on many local and regional radio and TV talk shows, large-scale mass communication appears to be blocked, since it could result in suspicion or investigation of the very media presenting it or the sponsors that support the media. Some government agencies do not want this information generally known. Nor do the Born-Again Christian movement, cults, and many human-potential trainings.
Everything I will relate only exposes the surface of the problem. I don't know how the misuse of these techniques can be stopped. I don't think it is possible to legislate against that which often cannot be detected; and if those who legislate are using these techniques, there is little hope of affecting laws to govern usage. I do know that the first step to initiate change is to generate interest. In this case, that will probably only result from an underground effort.
In talking about this subject, I am talking about my own business. I know it, and I know how effective it can be. I produce hypnosis and subliminal tapes and, in some of my seminars, I use conversion tactics to assist participants to become independent and self-sufficient. But, anytime I use these techniques, I point out that I am using them, and those attending have a choice to participate or not. They also know what the desired result of participation will be.
So, to begin, I want to state the most basic of all facts about brainwashing: In the entire history of man, no one has ever been brainwashed and realized, or believed, that he had been brainwashed. Those who have been brainwashed will usually passionately defend their manipulators, claiming they have simply been "shown the light" . . . or have been transformed in miraculous ways.

The Birth of Conversion

CONVERSION is a "nice" word for BRAINWASHING and any study of brainwashing has to begin with a study of Christian revivalism in eighteenth century America. Apparently, Jonathan Edwards accidentally discovered the techniques during a religious crusade in 1735 in Northampton, Massachusetts. By inducing guilt and acute apprehension and by increasing the tension, the "sinners" attending his revival meetings would break down and completely submit. Technically, what Edwards was doing was creating conditions that wipe the brain slate clean so that the mind accepts new programming. The problem was that the new input was negative. He would tell them, "You're a sinner! You're destined for hell!"
As a result, one person committed suicide and another attempted suicide. And the neighbors of the suicidal converts related that they, too, were affected so deeply that, although they had found "eternal salvation," they were obsessed with a diabolical temptation to end their own lives.
Once a preacher, cult leader, manipulator or authority figure creates the brain phase to wipe the brain-slate clean, his subjects are wide open. New input, in the form of suggestion, can be substituted for their previous ideas. Because Edwards didn't turn his message positive until the end of the revival, many accepted the negative suggestions and acted, or desired to act, upon them.
Charles J. Finney was another Christian revivalist who used the same techniques four years later in mass religious conversions in New York. The techniques are still being used today by Christian revivalists, cults, human-potential trainings, some business rallies, and the United States Armed Services . to name just a few.
Let me point out here that I don't think most revivalist preachers realize or know they are using brainwashing techniques. Edwards simply stumbled upon a technique that really worked, and others copied it and have continued to copy it for over two hundred years. And the more sophisticated our knowledge and technology become, the more effective the conversion. I feel strongly that this is one of the major reasons for the increasing rise in Christian fundamentalism, especially the televised variety, while most of the orthodox religions are declining.

The Three Brain Phases

The Christians may have been the first to successfully formulate brainwashing, but we have to look to Pavlov, the Russian scientist, for a technical explanation. In the early 1900s, his work with animals opened the door to further investigations with humans. After the revolution in Russia, Lenin was quick to see the potential of applying Pavlov's research to his own ends.
Three distinct and progressive states of transmarginal inhibition were identified by Pavlov. The first is the EQUIVALENT phase, in which the brain gives the same response to both strong and weak stimuli. The second is the PARADOXICAL phase, in which the brain responds more actively to weak stimuli than to strong. And the third is the ULTRA- PARADOXICAL phase, in which conditioned responses and behavior patterns turn from positive to negative or from negative to positive.
With the progression through each phase, the degree of conversion becomes more effective and complete. The way to achieve conversion are many and varied, but the usual first step in religious or political brainwashing is to work on the emotions of an individual or group until they reach an abnormal level of anger, fear, excitement, or nervous tension.
The progressive result of this mental condition is to impair judgement and increase suggestibility. The more this condition can be maintained or intensified, the more it compounds. Once catharsis, or the first brain phase, is reached, the complete mental takeover becomes easier. Existing mental programming can be replaced with new patterns of thinking and behavior.
Other often-used physiological weapons to modify normal brain functions are fasting, radical or high sugar diets, physical discomforts, regulation of breathing, mantra chanting in meditation, the disclosure of awesome mysteries, special lighting and sound effects, programed response to incense, or intoxicating drugs.
The same results can be obtained in contemporary psychiatric treatment by electric shock treatments and even by purposely lowering a person's blood sugar level with insulin injections.
Before I talk about exactly how some of the techniques are applied, I want to point out that hypnosis and conversion tactics are two distinctly different thingsand that conversion techniques are far more powerful. However, the two are often mixed . . . with powerful results.

How Revivalist Preachers Work

If you'd like to see a revivalist preacher at work, there are probably several in your city. Go to the church or tent early and sit in the rear, about three-quarters of the way back. Most likely repetitive music will be played while the people come in for the service. A repetitive beat, ideally ranging from 45 to 72 beats per minute (a rhythm close to the beat of the human heart), is very hypnotic and can generate an eyes-open altered state of consciousness in a very high percentage of people. And, once you are in an alpha state, you are at least 25 times as suggestible as you would be in full beta consciousness. The music is probably the same for every service, or incorporates the same beat, and many of the people will go into an altered state almost immediately upon entering the sanctuary. Subconsciously, they recall their state of mind from previous services and respond according to the post-hypnotic programming.
Watch the people waiting for the service to begin. Many will exhibit external signs of trancebody relaxation and slightly dilated eyes. Often, they begin swaying back and forth with their hands in the air while sitting in their chairs. Next, the assistant pastor will probably come out. He usually speaks with a pretty good "voice roll."

Voice Roll Technique

A "voice roll" is a patterned, paced style used by hypnotists when inducing a trance. It is also used by many lawyers, several of whom are highly trained hypnotists, when they desire to entrench a point firmly in the minds of the jurors. A voice roll can sound as if the speaker were talking to the beat of a metronome or it may sound as though he were emphasizing every word in a monotonous, patterned style. The words will usually be delivered at the rate of 45 to 60 beats per minute, maximizing the hypnotic effect.
Now the assistant pastor begins the "build-up" process. He induces an altered state of consciousness and/or begins to generate the excitement and the expectations of the audience. Next, a group of young women in "sweet and pure" chiffon dresses might come out to sing a song. Gospel songs are great for building excitement and INVOLVEMENT. In the middle of the song, one of the girls might be "smitten by the spirit" and fall down or react as if possessed by the Holy Spirit. This very effectively increases the intensity in the room. At this point, hypnosis and conversion tactics are being mixed. And the result is the audience's attention span is now totally focused upon the communication while the environment becomes more exciting or tense.
Right about this time, when an eyes-open mass-induced alpha mental state has been achieved, they will usually pass the collection plate or basket. In the background, a 45-beat-per-minute voice roll from the assistant preacher might exhort, "Give to God . . . Give to God . . . Give to God . . ." And the audience does give. God may not get the money, but his already wealthy representative will.
Next, the fire-and-brimstone preacher will come out. He induces fear and increases the tension by talking about "the devil," "going to hell," or the forthcoming Armegeddon.
In the last such rally I attended, the preacher talked about the blood that would soon be running out of every faucet in the land. He was also obsessed with a "bloody axe of God," which everyone had seen hanging above the pulpit the previous week. I have no doubt that everyone saw itthe power of suggestion given to hundreds of people in hypnosis assures that at least 10 to 25 percent would see whatever he suggested they see.
In most revivalist gatherings, "testifying" or "witnessing" usually follows the fear-based sermon. People from the audience come up o n stage and relate their stories. "I was crippled and now I can walk!" "I had arthritis and now it's gone!" It is a psychological manipulation that works. After listening to numerous case histories of miraculous healings, the average guy in the audience with a minor problem is sure he can be healed. The room is charged with fear, guilt, intense excitement, and expectations.
Now those who want to be healed are frequently lined up around the edge of the room, or they are told to come down to the front. The preacher might touch them on the head firmly and scream, "Be healed!" This releases the psychic energy and, for many, catharsis results. Catharsis is a purging of repressed emotions. Individuals might cry, fall down or even go into spasms. And if catharsis is effected, they stand a chance of being healed. In catharsis (one of the three brain phases mentioned earlier), the brain-slate is temporarily wiped clean and the new suggestion is accepted.
For some, the healing may be permanent. For many, it will last four days to a week, which is, incidentally, how long a hypnotic suggestion given to a somnambulistic subject will usually last. Even if the healing doesn't last, if they come back every week, the power of suggestion may continually override the problem . . . or sometimes, sadly, it can mask a physical problem which could prove to be very detrimental to the individual in the long run.
I'm not saying that legitimate healings do not take place. They do. Maybe the individual was ready to let go of the negativity that caused the problem in the first place; maybe it was the work of God. Yet I contend that it can be explained with existing knowledge of brain/mind function.
The techniques and staging will vary from church to church. Many use "speaking in tongues" to generate catharsis in some while the spectacle creates intense excitement in the observers.
The use of hypnotic techniques by religions is sophisticated, and professionals are assuring that they become even more effective. A man in Los Angeles is designing, building, and reworking a lot of churches around the country. He tells ministers what they need and how to use it. This man's track record indicates that the congregation and the monetary income will double if the minister follows his instructions. He admits that about 80 percent of his efforts are in the sound system and lighting.
Powerful sound and the proper use of lighting are of primary importance in inducing an altered state of consciousnessI've been using them for years in my own seminars. However, my participants are fully aware of the process and what they can expect as a result of their participation.

Six Conversion Techniques

Cults and human-potential organizations are always looking for new converts. To attain them, they must also create a brain-phase. And they often need to do it within a short space of timea weekend, or maybe even a day. The following are the six primary techniques used to generate the conversion.
The meeting or training takes place in an area where participants are cut off from the outside world. This may be any place: a private home, a remote or rural setting, or even a hotel ballroom where the participants are allowed only limited bathroom usage.
In human-potential trainings, the controllers will give a lengthy talk about the importance of "keeping agreements" in life. The participants are told that if they don't keep agreements, their life will never work. It's a good idea to keep agreements, but the controllers are subverting a positive human value for selfish purposes. The participants vow to themselves and their trainer that they will keep their agreements. Anyone who does not will be intimidated into agreement or forced to leave. The next step is to agree to complete training, thus assuring a high percentage of conversions for the organizations. They will USUALLY have to agree not to take drugs, smoke, and sometimes not to eat or they are given such short meal breaks that it creates tension. The real reason for the agreements is to alter internal chemistry, which generates anxiety and hopefully causes at least a slight malfunction of the nervous system, which in turn increases the conversion potential.
Before the gathering is complete, the agreements will be used to ensure that the new converts go out and find new participants. They are intimidated into agreeing to do so before they leave. Since the importance of keeping agreements is so high on their priority list, the converts will twist the arms of everyone they know, attempting to talk them into attending a free introductory session offered at a future date by the organization. The new converts are zealots. In fact, the inside term for merchandising the largest and most successful human- potential training is, "sell it by zealot!"
At least a million people are graduates and a good percentage have been left with a mental activation button that assures their future loyalty and assistance if the guru figure or organization calls. Think about the potential political implications of hundreds of thousands of zealots programmed to campaign for their guru.
Be wary of an organization of this type that offers follow-up sessions after the seminar. Follow-up sessions might be weekly meetings or inexpensive seminars given on a regular basis which the organization will attempt to talk you into taking or any regularly scheduled event used to maintain control. As the early Christian revivalists found, long-term control is dependent upon a good follow-up system.
Alright. Now, let's look at the second tip-off that indicates conversion tactics are being used. A schedule is maintained that causes physical and mental fatigue. This is primarily accomplished by long hours in which the participants are given no opportunity for relaxation or reflection.
The third tip-off: techniques used to increase the tension in the room or environment.
Number four: Uncertainty. I could spend hours relating various techniques to increase tension and generate uncertainty. Basically, the participants are concerned about being "put on the spot" or encountered by the trainers, guilt feelings are played upon, participants are tempted to verbally relate their innermost secrets to the other participants or forced to take part in activities that emphasize removing their masks. One of the most successful human-potential seminars forces the participants to stand on a stage in front of the entire audience while being verbally attacked by the trainers. A public opinion poll, conducted a few years ago, showed that the number one most-fearful situation an individual could encounter is to speak to an audience. It ranked above window washing outside the 85th floor of an office building. So you can imagine the fear and tension this situation generates within the participants. Many faint, but most cope with the stress by mentally going away. They literally go into an alpha state, which automatically makes them many times as suggestible as they normally are. And another loop of the downward spiral into conversion is successfully effected.
The fifth clue that conversion tactics are being used is the introduction of jargonnew terms that have meaning only to the "insiders" who participate. Vicious language is also frequently used, purposely, to make participants uncomfortable.
The final tip-off is that there is no humor in the communications at least until the participants are converted. Then, merry-making and humor are highly desirable as symbols of the new joy the participants have supposedly "found."
I'm not saying that good does not result from participation in such gatherings. It can and does. But I contend it is important for people to know what has happened and to be aware that continual involvement may not be in their best interest.
Over the years, I've conducted professional seminars to teach people to be hypnotists, trainers, and counselors. I've had many of those who conduct trainings and rallies come to me and say, "I'm here because I know that what I'm doing works, but I don't know why." After showing them how and why, many have gotten out of the business or have decided to approach it differently or in a much more loving and supportive manner.
Many of these trainers have become personal friends, and it scares us all to have experienced the power of one person with a microphone and a room full of people. Add a little charisma and you can count on a high percentage of conversions. The sad truth is that a high percentage of people want to give away their powerthey are true "believers"!
Cult gatherings or human-potential trainings are an ideal environment to observe first-hand what is technically called the "Stockholm Syndrome." This is a situation in which those who are intimidated, controlled, or made to suffer, begin to love, admire, and even sometimes sexually desire their controllers or captors.
But let me inject a word of warning here: If you think you can attend such gatherings and not be affected, you are probably wrong. A perfect example is the case of a woman who went to Haiti on a Guggenheim Fellowship to study Haitian Voodoo. In her report, she related how the music eventually induced uncontrollable bodily movement and an altered state of consciousness. Although she understood the process and thought herself above it, when she began to feel herself become vulnerable to the music, she attempted to fight it and turned away. Anger or resistance almost always assures conversion. A few moments later she was possessed by the music and began dancing in a trance around the Voodoo meeting house. A brain phase had been induced by the music and excitement, and she awoke feeling reborn. The only hope of attending such gatherings without being affected is to be a Buddha and allow no positive or negative emotions to surface. Few people are capable of such detachment.
Before I go on, let's go back to the six tip-offs to conversion. I want to mention the United States Government and military boot camp. The Marine Corps talks about breaking men down before "rebuilding" them as new men as marines! Well, that is exactly what they do, the same way a cult breaks its people down and rebuilds them as happy flower sellers on your local street corner. Every one of the six conversion techniques are used in boot camp. Considering the needs of the military, I'm not making a judgement as to whether that is good or bad. IT IS A FACT that the men are effectively brainwashed. Those who won't submit must be discharged or spend much of their time in the brig.

Decognition Process

Once the initial conversion is effected, cults, armed services, and similar groups cannot have cynicism among their members. Members must respond to commands and do as they are told, otherwise they are dangerous to the organizational control. This is normally accomplished in a three step Decognition Process.
Step One is ALERTNESS REDUCTION: The controllers cause the nervous system to malfunction, making it difficult to distinguish between fantasy and reality. This can be accomplished in several ways. POOR DIET is one; watch out for Brownies and Koolaid. The sugar throws the nervous system off. More subtle is the "SPIRITUAL DIET" used by many cults. They eat only vegetables and fruits; without the grounding of grains, nuts, seeds, dairy products, fish or meat, an individual becomes mentally "spacey." INADEQUATE SLEEP is another primary way to reduce alertness, especially when combined with long hours of work or intense physical activity. Also, being bombarded with intense and unique experiences achieves the same result.
Step Two is PROGRAMED CONFUSION: You are mentally assaulted while your alertness is being reduced as in Step One. This is accomplished with a deluge of new information, lectures, discussion groups, encounters or one-to-one processing, which usually amounts to the controller bombarding the individual with questions. During this phase of decognition, reality and illusion often merge and perverted logic is likely to be accepted.
Step Three is THOUGHT STOPPING: Techniques are used to cause the mind to go "flat." These are altered-state-of-consciousness techniques that initially induce calmness by giving the mind something simple to deal with and focusing awareness. The continued use brings on a feeling of elation and eventually hallucination. The result is the reduction of thought and eventually, if used long enough, the cessation of all thought and withdrawal from everyone and everything except that which the controllers direct. The takeover is then complete. It is important to be aware that when members or participants are instructed to use "thought-stopping" techniques, they are told that they will benefit by so doing: they will become "better soldiers" or "find enlightenment."
There are three primary techniques used for thought stopping. The first is MARCHING: the thump, thump, thump beat literally generates self-hypnosis and thus great susceptibility to suggestion.
The second thought stopping technique is MEDITATION. If you spend an hour to an hour and a half a day in meditation, after a few weeks, there is a great probability that you will not return to full beta consciousness. You will remain in a fixed state of alpha for as long as you continue to meditate. I'm not saying this is bad - if you do it yourself. It may be very beneficial. But it is a fact that you are causing your mind to go flat. I've worked with meditators on an EEG machine and the results are conclusive: the more you meditate, the flatter your mind becomes until, eventually and especially if used to excess or in combination with decognition, all thought ceases. Some spiritual groups see this as nirvana - which is bullshit. It is simply a predictable physiological result. And if heaven on earth is non- thinking and non-involvement, I really question why we are here.
The third thought-stopping technique is CHANTING, and often chanting in meditation. "Speaking in tongues" could also be included in this category.
All three-stopping techniques produce an altered state of consciousness. This may be very good if YOU are controlling the process, for you also control the input. I personally use at least one self-hypnosis programming session every day and I know how beneficial it is for me. But you need to know if you use these techniques to the degree of remaining continually in alpha that, although you'll be very mellow, you'll also be more suggestible.

True Believers & Mass Movements

Before ending this section on conversion, I want to talk about the people who are most susceptible to it and about Mass Movements. I am convinced that at least a third of the population is what Eric Hoffer calls "true believers." They are joiners and followers . . . people who want to give away their power. They look for answers, meaning, and enlightenment outside themselves.
Hoffer, who wrote THE TRUE BELIEVER, a classic on mass movements, says, "true believers are not intent on bolstering and advancing a cherished self, but are those craving to be rid of unwanted self. They are followers, not because of a desire for self-advancement, but because it can satisfy their passion for self-renunciation!" Hoffer also says that true believers "are eternally incomplete and eternally insecure"!
I know this from my own experience. In my years of communicating concepts and conducting trainings, I have run into them again and again. All I can do is attempt to show them that the only thing to seek is the True Self within. Their personal answers are to be found there and there alone. I communicate that the basics of spirituality are self-responsibility and self-actualization. But most of the true believers just tell me that I'm not spiritual and go looking for someone who will give them the dogma and structure they desire. Never underestimate the potential danger of these people. They can easily be moulded into fanatics who will gladly work and die for their holy cause. It is a substitute for their lost faith in themselves and offers them as a substitute for individual hope. The Moral Majority is made up of true believers. All cults are composed of true believers. You'll find them in politics, churches, businesses, and social cause groups. They are the fanatics in these organizations.
Mass Movements will usually have a charismatic leader. The followers want to convert others to their way of living or impose a new way of life if necessary, by legislating laws forcing others to their view, as evidenced by the activities of the Moral Majority. This means enforcement by guns or punishment, for that is the bottomline in law enforcement.
A common hatred, enemy, or devil is essential to the success of a mass movement. The Born-Again Christians have Satan himself, but that isn't enough they've added the occult, the New Age thinkers and, lately, all those who oppose their integration of church and politics, as evidenced in their political re-election campaigns against those who oppose their views. In revolutions, the devil is usually the ruling power or aristocracy. Some human-potential movements are far too clever to ask their graduates to join anything, thus labelling themselves as a cult but, if you look closely, you'll find that their devil is anyone and everyone who hasn't taken their training. There are mass movements without devils but they seldom attain major status. The True Believers are mentally unbalanced or insecure people, or those without hope or friends. People don't look for allies when they love, but they do when they hate or become obsessed with a cause. And those who desire a new life and a new order feel the old ways must be eliminated before the new order can be built.

Persuasion Techniques

Persuasion isn't technically brainwashing but it is the manipulation of the human mind by another individual, without the manipulated party being aware what caused his opinion shift. I only have time to very basically introduce you to a few of the thousands of techniques in use today, but the basis of persuasion is always to access your RIGHT BRAIN. The left half of your brain is analytical and rational. The right side is creative and imaginative. That is overly simplified but it makes my point. So, the idea is to distract the left brain and keep it busy. Ideally, the persuader generates an eyes-open altered state of consciousness, causing you to shift from beta awareness into alpha; this can be measured on an EEG machine.
First, let me give you an example of distracting the left brain. Politicians use these powerful techniques all the time; lawyers use many variations which, I've been told, they call "tightening the noose."
Assume for a moment that you are watching a politician give a speech. First, he might generate what is called a "YES SET." These are statements that will cause listeners to agree; they might even unknowingly nod their heads in agreement. Next come the TRUISMS. These are usually facts that could be debated but, once the politician has his audience agreeing, the odds are in the politician's favor that the audience won't stop to think for themselves, thus continuing to agree. Last comes the SUGGESTION. This is what the politician wants you to do and, since you have been agreeing all along, you could be persuaded to accept the suggestion. Now, if you'll listen closely to my political speech, you'll find that the first three are the "yes set," the next three are truisms and the last is the suggestion.
"Ladies and gentlemen: are you angry about high food prices? Are you tired of astronomical gas prices? Are you sick of out-of-control inflation? Well, you know the Other Party allowed 18 percent inflation last year; you know crime has increased 50 percent nationwide in the last 12 months, and you know your paycheck hardly covers your expenses any more. Well, the answer to resolving these problems is to elect me, John Jones, to the U.S. Senate."
And I think you've heard all that before. But you might also watch for what are called Imbedded Commands. As an example: On key words, the speaker would make a gesture with his left hand, which research has shown is more apt to access your right brain. Today's media-oriented politicians and spellbinders are often carefully trained by a whole new breed of specialist who are using every trick in the bookboth old and new - to manipulate you into accepting their candidate.
The concepts and techniques of Neuro-Linguistics are so heavily protected that I found out the hard way that to even talk about them publicly or in print results in threatened legal action. Yet Neuro-Linguistic training is readily available to anyone willing to devote the time and pay the price. It is some of the most subtle and powerful manipulation I have yet been exposed to. A good friend who recently attended a two-week seminar on Neuro-Linguistics found that many of those she talked to during the breaks were government people.
Another technique that I'm just learning about is unbelievably slippery; it is called an INTERSPERSAL TECHNIQUE and the idea is to say one thing with words but plant a subconscious impression of something else in the minds of the listeners and/or watchers.
Let me give you an example: Assume you are watching a television commentator make the following statement: "SENATOR JOHNSON is assisting local authorities to clear up the stupid mistakes of companies contributing to the nuclear waste problems." It sounds like a statement of fact, but, if the speaker emphasizes the right word, and especially if he makes the proper hand gestures on the key words, you could be left with the subconscious impression that Senator Johnson is stupid. That was the subliminal goal of the statement and the speaker cannot be called to account for anything.
Persuasion techniques are also frequently used on a much smaller scale with just as much effectiveness. The insurance salesman knows his pitch is likely to be much more effective if he can get you tovisualize something in your mind. This is right-brain communication. For instance, he might pause in his conversation, look slowly around your living room and say, "Can you just imagine this beautiful home burning to the ground?" Of course you can! It is one of your unconscious fears and, when he forces you to visualize it, you are more likely to be manipulated into signing his insurance policy.
The Hare Krishnas, operating in every airport, use what I call SHOCK AND CONFUSION techniques to distract the left brain and communicate directly with the right brain. While waiting for a plane, I once watched one operate for over an hour. He had a technique of almost jumping in front of someone. Initially, his voice was loud then dropped as he made his pitch to take a book and contribute money to the cause. Usually, when people are shocked, they immediately withdraw. In this case they were shocked by the strange appearance, sudden materialization and loud voice of the Hare Krishna devotee. In other words, the people went into an alpha state for security because they didn't want to confront the reality before them. In alpha, they were highly suggestible so they responded to the suggestion of taking the book; the moment they took the book, they felt guilty and responded to the second suggestion: give money. We are all conditioned that if someone gives us something, we have to give them something in returnin that case, it was money. While watching this hustler, I was close enough to notice that many of the people he stopped exhibited an outward sign of alphatheir eyes were actually dilated.

Subliminal Programming

Subliminals are hidden suggestions that only your subconscious perceives. They can be audio, hidden behind music, or visual, airbrushed into a picture, flashed on a screen so fast that you don't consciously see them, or cleverly incorporated into a picture or design.
Most audio subliminal reprogramming tapes offer verbal suggestions recorded at a low volume. I question the efficacy of this technique if subliminals are not perceptible, they cannot be effective, and subliminals recorded below the audible threshold are therefore useless. The oldest audio subliminal technique uses a voice that follows the volume of the music so subliminals are impossible to detect without a parametric equalizer. But this technique is patented and, when I wanted to develop my own line of subliminal audiocassettes, negotiations with the patent holder proved to be unsatisfactory. My attorney obtained copies of the patents which I gave to some talented Hollywood sound engineers, asking them to create a new technique. They found a way to psycho-acoustically modify and synthesize the suggestions so that they are projected in the same chord and frequency as the music, thus giving them the effect of being part of the music. But we found that in using this technique, there is no way to reduce various frequencies to detect the subliminals. In other words, although the suggestions are being heard by the subconscious mind, they cannot be monitored with even the most sophisticated equipment.
If we were able to come up with this technique as easily as we did, I can only imagine how sophisticated the technology has become, with unlimited government or advertising funding. And I shudder to think about the propaganda and commercial manipulation that we are exposed to on a daily basis. There is simply no way to know what is behind the music you hear. It may even be possible to hide a second voice behind the voice to which you are listening. The series by Wilson Bryan Key, Ph.D., on subliminals in advertising and political campaigns well documents the misuse in many areas, especially printed advertising in newspapers, magazines, and posters.
The big question about subliminals is: do they work? And I guarantee you they do. Not only from the response of those who have used my tapes, but from the results of such programs as the subliminals behind the music in department stores. Supposedly, the only message is instructions to not steal: one East Coast department store chain reported a 37 percent reduction in thefts in the first nine months of testing.
A 1984 article in the technical newsletter, "Brain-Mind Bulletin," states that as much as 99 percent of our cognitive activity may be "non-conscious," according to the director of the Laboratory for Cognitive Psychophysiology at the University of Illinois. The lengthy report ends with the statement, "these findings support the use of subliminal approaches such as taped suggestions for weight loss and the therapeutic use of hypnosis and Neuro-Linguistic Programming."

Mass Misuse

I could relate many stories that support subliminal programming, but I'd rather use my time to make you aware of even more subtle uses of such programming.
I have personally experienced sitting in a Los Angeles auditorium with over ten thousand people who were gathered to listen to a current charismatic figure. Twenty minutes after entering the auditorium, I became aware that I was going in and out of an altered state. Those accompanying me experienced the same thing. Since it is our business, we were aware of what was happening, but those around us were not. By careful observation, what appeared to be spontaneous demonstrations were, in fact, artful manipulations. The only way I could figure that the eyes-open trance had been induced was that a 6- to 7-cycle-per- second vibration was being piped into the room behind the air conditioner sound. That particular vibration generates alpha, which would render the audience highly susceptible. Ten to 25 percent of the population is capable of a somnambulistic level of altered states of consciousness; for these people, the suggestions of the speaker, if non-threatening, could potentially be accepted as "commands."

Vibrato

This leads to the mention of VIBRATO. Vibrato is the tremulous effect imparted in some vocal or instrumental music, and the cyle-per-second range causes people to go into an altered state of consciousness. At one period of English history, singers whose voices contained pronounced vibrato were not allowed to perform publicly because listeners would go into an altered state and have fantasies, often sexual in nature.
People who attend opera or enjoy listening to singers like Mario Lanza are familiar with this altered state induced by the performers.

Extra Low Frequencies

Now, let's carry this awareness a little farther. There are also inaudible ELFs (extra-low frequency waves). These are electromagnetic in nature. One of the primary uses of ELFs is to communicate with our submarines. Dr. Andrija Puharich, a highly respected researcher, in an attempt to warn U.S. officials about Russian use of ELFs, set up an experiment. Volunteers were wired so their brain waves could be measured on an EEG. They were sealed in a metal room that could not be penetrated by a normal signal.
Puharich then beamed ELF waves at the volunteers. ELFs go right through the earth and, of course, right through metal walls. Those inside couldn't know if the signal was or was not being sent. And Puharich watched the reactions on the technical equipment: 30 percent of those inside the room were taken over by the ELF signal in six to ten seconds.
When I say "taken over," I mean that their behavior followed the changes anticipated at very precise frequencies. Waves below 6 cycles per second caused the subjects to become very emotionally upset, and even disrupted bodily functions. At 8.2 cycles, they felt very high... an elevated feeling, as though they had been in masterful meditation, learned over a period of years. Eleven to 11.3 cycles induced waves of depressed agitation leading to riotous behavior.

The Neurophone

Dr. Patrick Flanagan is a personal friend of mine. In the early 1960s, as a teenager, Pat was listed as one of the top scientists in the world by "Life" magazine. Among his many inventions was a device he called the Neurophonean electronic instrument that can successfully program suggestions directly through contact with the skin. When he attempted to patent the device, the government demanded that he prove it worked. When he did, the National Security Agency confiscated the neurophone. It took Pat two years of legal battle to get his invention back.
In using the device, you don't hear or see a thing; it is applied to the skin, which Pat claims is the source of special senses. The skin contains more sensors for heat, touch, pain, vibration, and electrical fields than any other part of the human anatomy.
In one of his recent tests, Pat conducted two identical seminars for a military audienceone seminar one night and one the next night, because the size of the room was not large enough to accommodate all of them at one time. When the first group proved to be very cool and unwilling to respond, Patrick spent the next day making a special tape to play at the second seminar. The tape instructed the audience to be extremely warm and responsive and for their hands to become "tingly." The tape was played through the neurophone, which was connected to a wire he placed along the ceiling of the room. There were no speakers, so no sound could be heard, yet the message was successfully transmitted from that wire directly into the brains of the audience. They were warm and receptive, their hands tingled and they responded, according to programming, in other ways that I cannot mention here.
The more we find out about how human beings work through today's highly advanced technological research, the more we learn to control human beings. And what probably scares me the most is that the medium for takeover is already in place! The television set in your living room and bedroom is doing a lot more than just entertaining you.
Before I continue, let me point out something else about an altered state of consciousness. When you go into an altered state, you transfer into right brain, which results in the internal release of the body's own opiates: enkephalins and Beta-endorphins, chemically almost identical to opium. In other words, it feels good . . . and you want to come back for more.
Recent tests by researcher Herbert Krugman showed that, while viewers were watching TV, right-brain activity outnumbered left-brain activity by a ratio of two to one. Put more simply, the viewers were in an altered state . . . in trance more often than not. They were getting their Beta-endorphin "fix."
To measure attention spans, psychophysiologist Thomas Mulholland of the Veterans Hospital in Bedford, Massachusetts, attached young viewers to an EEG machine that was wired to shut the TV set off whenever the children's brains produced a majority of alpha waves. Although the children were told to concentrate, only a few could keep the set on for more than 30 seconds!
Most viewers are already hypnotized. To deepen the trance is easy. One simple way is to place a blank, black frame every 32 frames in the film that is being projected. This creates a 45-beat-per-minute pulsation perceived only by the subconscious mindthe ideal pace to generate deep hypnosis.
The commercials or suggestions presented following this alpha- inducing broadcast are much more likely to be accepted by the viewer. The high percentage of the viewing audience that has somnambulistic- depth ability could very well accept the suggestions as commandsas long as those commands did not ask the viewer to do something contrary to his morals, religion, or self-preservation.
The medium for takeover is here. By the age of 16, children have spent 10,000 to 15,000 hours watching televisionthat is more time than they spend in school! In the average home, the TV set is on for six hours and 44 minutes per dayan increase of nine minutes from last year and three times the average rate of increase during the 1970s.
It obviously isn't getting better . . . we are rapidly moving into an alpha-level worldvery possibly the Orwellian world of "1984"placid, glassy-eyed, and responding obediently to instructions.
A research project by Jacob Jacoby, a Purdue University psychologist, found that of 2,700 people tested, 90 percent misunderstood even such simple viewing fare as commercials and "Barnaby Jones." Only minutes after watching, the typical viewer missed 23 to 36 percent of the questions about what he or she had seen. Of course they didthey were going in and out of trance! If you go into a deep trance, you must be instructed to rememberotherwise you automatically forget.
I have just touched the tip of the iceberg. When you start to combine subliminal messages behind the music, subliminal visuals projected on the screen, hypnotically produced visual effects, sustained musical beats at a trance-inducing pace . . . you have extremely effective brainwashing. Every hour that you spend watching the TV set you become more conditioned. And, in case you thought there was a law against any of these things, guess again. There isn't! There are a lot of powerful people who obviously prefer things exactly the way they are. Maybe they have plans for us?

This article was reproduced in Fact, Fiction and Fraud in Modern Medicine in February 1999

The Stages Of Spiritual Growth

The Stages Of Spiritual Growth
By M. Scott Peck, M.D.
http://www.factnet.org/Stages_Of_Spiritual_Growth.html
(The Different Drum by M. Scott Peck, pages 187-203)
Abridged by Richard Schwartz
  • Stage I
  • Stage II
  • Stage III
  • Stage IV
  • Expansion of Concepts
  • The Four Dimensions Of Contemplation  
  • Transcending Culture
Just as there are discernible stages in human physical and psychological growth, so there are stages in human spiritual development. The most widely read scholar of the subject today is James Fowler of Emory University, the writer of Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning. But I first came to an awareness of these stages through my own personal experience.

The first of these experiences occurred within I was fourteen and began attending Christian churches in the area. I was mainly interested in checking out the girls but also in checking out what this Christianity business seemed to be about. I chose one particular church because it was only a few blocks down the street and because the most famous preacher of the day was preaching there. It was in the day before the "electronic church," but this man's every sermon was broadcast over almost every radio frequency across the country. At fourteen I had no trouble spotting him as a fraud. On the other hand, up the street in the opposite direction was another church with a well-known minister--not nearly as famous as the first but still probably among the top thirty in the Who's Who of preachers of the day-a Presbyterian named George Buttrick. And at age fourteen I had no trouble spotting George Buttrick as a holy man, a true man of God. What was I to think of this with my young brain? Here was the best known Christian preacher of the day, and as far as I could discern at age fourteen, I was well ahead of him. Yet in the same Christian religion was George Buttrick, who was obviously light years ahead of me. It just didn't compute. So I concluded that this Christianity business didn't make any sense, and I turned my back on it for the next generation.

Another significant non computing experience occurred more gradually. Over the course of a decade of practicing psychotherapy a strange pattern began to emerge. If people who were religious came to me in pain and trouble, and if they became engaged in the therapeutic process, so as to go the whole route, they frequently left therapy as atheists, agnostics, or at least skeptics. On the other hand, if atheists, agnostics, or skeptics came to me in pain or difficulty and became fully engaged, they frequently left therapy as deeply religious people. Same therapy, same therapist, successful but utterly different outcomes from a religious point of view. Again it didn't compute--until I realized that we are not all in the same place spiritually.

With that realization came another: there is a pattern of progression through identifiable stages in human spiritual life. I myself have passed through them in my own spiritual journey. But here I will talk about those stages only in general, for individuals are unique and do not always fit nearly into my psychological or spiritual pigeonhole.

With that caveat, let me list my own understanding of these stages and the names I have chosen to give them:

STAGE I:

Chaotic, Antisocial. Frequently pretenders; they pretend they are loving and pious, covering up their lack of principles. Although they may pretend to be loving (and think of themselves that way), their relationships with their fellow human beings are all essentially manipulative and self-serving. They really don't give a hoot about anyone else. I call the stage chaotic because these people are basically unprincipled. Being unprincipled, there is nothing that governs them except their own will. And since the will from moment to moment can go this way or that, there is a lack of integrity to their being. They often end up, therefore in jails or find themselves in another form of social difficulty. Some, however, may be quite disciplined in the services of expediency and their own ambition and so may rise in positions of considerable prestige and power, even to become presidents or influential preachers.
STAGE II:

Formal, Institutional, Fundamental. Beginning the work of submitting themselves to principle-the law, but they do not yet understand the spirit of the law, consequently they are legalistic, parochial, and dogmatic. They are threatened by anyone who thinks differently from them, as they have the "truth," and so regard it as their responsibility to convert or save the other 90 or 99 percent of humanity who are not "true believers." They are religious for clear cut answers, with the security of a big daddy God and organization, to escape their fear of living in the mystery of life, the mystery of uncertainty in the ever moving and expanding unknown. Instead they choose the formulations, the stagnation of prescribed methods and doctrines that spell out life and attempt to escape fear. Yet these theological reasonings simply cover over fear, hide fear and do not transcend it in spite of with acceptance in expanding movement. All those outside of Stage II are perceived to be as Stage I, as they do not understand Stage III and Stage IV. Those who do fall, reverting from Stage II to Stage I are called "backsliders."

There is a Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Benny Hinn, Pat Robertson, mentality (one-sided thinking - ignorance that produces hostility) in every religion, the one-sidedness, in every ideology. Christianity cannot be condemned as responsible for the fundamentalists who claim to represent such. One just has to look at Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King, Jr. to see the opposite of such thinking. You can find the Falwell in Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Jainism, Mohammedism and of course Christianity. That is the narrow one-sided exclusiveness that limits insight to one set of rules and one objective truth, under the literal logic or rationialism, that fails to apprehend the unseen intuitive essence of existence and ignorantly labels outsiders as misled sinners, while surrounding themselves with interior neurotic and finite walls of security and certainty. All is safe in this illusion, but all is not just, nor fair, and does not transcend prejudice that surpasses tribal identity, an identity that must be scrapped in order to bring higher consciousness of planetary cultural peace and love based on principle with intuitive insight.

There is also a Bin Laden (evil intolerance) in every religious culture and teaching, in every social, political and cultural view. Islam cannot be condemned as responsible for the extreme fundamentalists who incorporate harm and war. One just has to look at the other side within Islam, to the Sufi of compassion and peace, that of Bawa Muhaiyaddeen or Hazrat Inayat Khan. Yet the evil of extreme fundamentalism resides in all facets of society, those who would kill and destroy, torture and humiliate, all in the name of their theological and ideological views. They are of course the extreme fundamentalists, yet all forms of fundamentalism, both moderate to extreme, Stage II mentality, fails integration with non-acceptance, that of one-dimensional perception. And yet, in each of these same cultures, although the minority, there exists communal and mystical persons, Stage IV persons, those transmitting inclusiveness and compassion, who transcend all divisiveness in oneness.
STAGE III:

Skeptic, Individual, questioner, including atheists, agnostics and those scientifically minded who demand a measurable, well researched and logical explanation. Although frequently "nonbelievers," people in Stage III are generally more spiritually developed than many content to remain in Stage II. Although individualistic, they are not the least bit antisocial. To the contrary, they are often deeply involved in and committed to social causes. They make up their own minds about things and are no more likely to believe everything they read in the papers than to believe it is necessary for someone to acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior (as opposed to Buddha or Mao or Socrates) in order to be saved. They make loving, intensely dedicated parents. As skeptics they are often scientists, and as such they are again highly submitted to principle. Indeed, what we call the scientific method is a collection of conventions and procedures that have been designed to combat our extraordinary capacity to deceive ourselves in the interest of submission to something higher than our own immediate emotional or intellectual comfort--namely truth. Advanced Stage III men and women are active truth seekers.

Despite being scientifically minded, in many cases even atheists, they are on a higher spiritual level than Stage II, being a required stage of growth to enter into Stage IV. The churches age old dilemma: how to bring people from Stage II to Stage IV, without allowing them to enter Stage III.
STAGE IV:

Mystic, communal. Out of love and commitment to the whole, using their ability to transcend their backgrounds, culture and limitations with all others, reaching toward the notion of world community and the possibility of either transcending culture or -- depending on which way you want to use the words -- belonging to a planetary culture. They are religious, not looking for clear cut, proto type answers, but desiring to enter into the mystery of uncertainty, living in the unknown. The Christian mystic, as with all other mystics, Sufi and Zen alike, through contemplation, meditation, reflection and prayer, see the Christ, Gods indwelling Spirit or the Buddha nature, in all people, including all the Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jews and so forth, recognizing the connectedness of all humanity with God, never separating oneself from others with doctrine and scripture, recognizing that all scripture acts as fallible pointers of inspiration, unable to capture the essence of truth outside of both human perception and the linguistic straight jacket of language and articulation, that is, the words of fallible men who experienced the nature of God, that of their inner true self, and attempted to record their experience in human words, words constrained by the era of time they were written in that became compromised the moment they were penned and are further removed from objectivity when interpreted by us, fallible men and women who read them. (Words in Blue Font Added)

It is as if the words of each had two different translations. In the Christian example: "Jesus is my savior," Stage II often translates this into a Jesus who is a kind of fairy godmother who will rescue us whenever we get in trouble as long as we remember to call upon his name. At Stage IV, "Jesus is my savior" is translated as "Jesus, through his life and death, taught the way, not through virgin births, cosmic ascensions, walking on water and blood sacrifice of reconciliation - man with an external daddy Warbucks that lives in the sky - mythological stories interpreted as literal accounts, but rather as one loving the whole, the outcasts, overcoming prejudices, incorporating inclusiveness and unconditional love, this, with the courage to be as oneself - that is what I must follow for my salvation." Two totally different meanings.

The Stage IV - the mystic - views the conception of "back sliding" as the movement away from the collective consciousness and true inner nature, returning to the separate self - the ego, as opposed to the Stage II - the fundamentalist, whose conception of "back sliding," is the movement away from mapped out security to that of chaos. Two totally different views.
Expansion of Concepts

Most all young children and perhaps one in five adults fall into Stage I. It is essentially a stage of undeveloped spirituality. I call it antisocial because those adults who are in it (and those I have dared to call "People of the Lie" are at its bottom) seem generally incapable of loving others. Although they may pretend to be loving (and think of themselves that way), their relationships with their fellow human beings are all essentially manipulative and self-serving. They really don't give a hoot about anyone else. I call the stage chaotic because these people are basically unprincipled. Being unprincipled, there is nothing that governs them except their own will. And since the will from moment to moment can go this way or that, there is a lack of integrity to their being. They often end up, therefore in jails or find themselves in another form of social difficulty. Some, however, may be quite disciplined in the services of expediency and their own ambition and so may rise in positions of considerable prestige and power, even to become presidents or influential preachers.

From time to time people in this stage get in touch with the chaos of their own being, and when they do, I think it is the most painful experience a human can have. Usually they just ride it out unchanged. A few, I suspect, may kill themselves, unable to envision change. And some, occasionally, convert to Stage II.

Such conversions are usually sudden and dramatic and, I believe, God-given. It is as if God had reached down and grabbed that soul and yanked it up a quantum leap. The process also seems to be an unconscious one. It just seems to happen. But if it could be made conscious, it might be as if the person said to himself. "Anything, anything is preferable to this chaos. I am willing to do anything to liberate myself from this chaos, even to submit myself to an institution for my governance."

For some the institution may be a prison. Most people who have worked in prisons know of a certain type of "model prisoner"--cooperative, obedient, well disciplined, favored by both the inmates and the administrative population. Because he is a model prisoner, he may soon be paroled, and three days later he has robbed seven banks and committed seventeen other felonies, so that he lands right back in jail and with the walls of the institution to govern hi, he once again becomes a "model prisoner."

For others the institution may be the military, where the chaos of their lives is regulated by the rather gentle paternalistic-and even maternalistic-structure of military society. for still others it might be a corporation or some other rightly structured organization. But for most, the institution to which they submit themselves for governance is the Church.

There are several things that characterize the behavior of men and women in Stage II of their spiritual development, which is the stage of the majority of churchgoers and believers (as well as that of most emotionally healthy "latency" period children). One is their attachment to the forms (as opposed to the essence) of their religion, which is why I call this stage "formal" as well as "institutional." They are in fact sometimes so attached to the canons and the liturgy that they become very upset if changes are made in the words or the music or in the traditional order of things. It is for this reason that there has been so much turmoil concerning the adoption of the new Book of Common Prayer by the Episcopal Church or the changes brought about by the Vatican II in the Catholic Church. Similar turmoil occurs for similar reasons in the other denominations and religions. Since it is precisely these forms that are responsible of their liberation from chaos., it is no wonder that people at this stage of their spiritual development become so threatened when someone seems to be playing footloose and fancy-free with the rules.

Another thing characterizing the religious behavior of Stage II people is that their vision of God is almost entirely that of an external, transcendent Being. They have very little understanding of the immanent, indwelling God--the God of the Holy Spirit or what Quakers call the Inner Light. And although they often consider Him loving, they also generally feel He possesses--and will use--punitive power. But once again, it is no accident that their vision of God is that of a giant benevolent Cop in the Sky, because that is precisely the kind of God they need--just as they need a legalistic religion for their governance.

Let us suppose now that two adults firmly rooted in Stage II marry and have children. They will likely raise their children in a stable home, because stability is a principal value for people in this stage. They will treat their children with dignity as important beings, because the Church tells them that children are important and should be treated with dignity. Although their love may be a bit legalistic and unimaginative at times, they will still generally treat them lovingly, because the Church tells them to be loving and teaches something about how to be loving. What happens to children raised in such a stable, loving home, treated with importance and dignity (and taken to Sunday school as well) is that they absorb the principles of Christianity as if with their mother's milk--or the principles of Buddhism if raised in a Buddhist home, or of Islam if raised in a Muslim home, and so on. The principles of their parents religion are literally engraved on their hearts or come to be what psychotherapists call "internalized."

But once these principles become internalized, such children, now usually late-adolescents, have become self-governing human beings. As such they are no longer dependent on an institution for their governance. Consequently they begin to say to themselves, "Who needs this fuddy-duddy old Church with its silly superstitions?" At this point they begin to convert to Stage III - the skeptic, individual. And to their parents great but unnecessary chagrin, they often become atheists or agnostics.

Although frequently "nonbelievers," people in Stage III are generally more spiritually developed than many content to remain in Stage II. Although individualistic, they are not the least bit antisocial. To the contrary, they are often deeply in involved in and committed to social causes. They make up their own minds about things and are no more likely to believe everything they read in the papers than to believe it is necessary for someone to acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior (as opposed to Buddha or Mao or Socrates) in order to be saved. They make loving, intensely dedicated parents. As skeptics they are often scientists, and as such they are again highly submitted to principle. Indeed, what we call the scientific method is a collection of conventions and procedures that have been designed to combat our extraordinary capacity to deceive ourselves in the interest of submission to something higher than our own immediate emotional or intellectual comfort--namely truth. Advanced Stage III men and women are active truth seekers.

"Seek and you shall find," it has been said. If people in Stage III seek truth deeply and widely enough, they find what they are looking for--enough pieces to begin to be able to fit them together, but never enough to complete the whole puzzle. In fact, the more pieces they find, the larger and more magnificent the puzzle becomes. Yet they are able to get glimpses of the "big picture" and to see that it is very beautiful indeed--and that it strangely resembles those "primitive myths and superstitions" their Stage II parents or grandparents believe in. At that point they begin their conversion to Stage IV, which is the mystic communal stage of spiritual development.

There are those in Stage III who will not progress to Stage IV - that is, anything that is beyond the empirical data and observation of analysis. All intuitive knowledge, all experience outside of scientific measurement and factual construction is rejected, as the Greek frame of mind of intellectual analysis is favored and the Hindu frame of mind, that of the essence of inexpressible "being," and "existence," is rejected as fallacious. A perfect example is that of Alfred Jules Ayer in his 1936 book entitled, Language, Truth & Logic. Here Ayer concludes:
"We conclude, therefore, that the argument from religious experience is altogether fallacious. The fact that people have religious experiences is interesting from the psychological point of view, but it does not in any way imply that there is such a thing as religious knowledge, any more than our having moral experiences implies that there is such a thing as moral knowledge. The theist, like the moralist, may believe that his experiences are cognitive experiences, but, unless he can formulate his "knowledge" in propositions that are empirically verifiable, we may be sure that he is deceiving himself. It follows that these philosophers who fill their books with assertions that they intuitively "know" this or that moral or religious "truth" are merely providing material for the psycho-analyst. For no act of intuition can be said to reveal a truth about any matter of fact unless it issues in verifiable propositions. And all such propositions are to be incorporated in the system of empirical propositions which constitutes science." (1)
While it may be truth that any religious or metaphysical experience and intuitive knowledge can never be used to create codes and precepts, it cannot be emphatically true that these insights or perceptional awareness can be rejected as fallacious to ambiguous reality and naked truth, that which rests outside of mental interpretive filters, and most certainly beyond scientific measurement. This must be embraced, that of emptiness, in order to progress to Stage IV awareness.

For those of us in professional ministry and studying in seminary, we spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on the rational element in religion- we can't seem to avoid it in the West. But no amount of Aquinas will ever serve to explain the true meaning of religious experience. Reading Aquinas is like studying a technical manual of spirituality- it destroys the very meaning of it. Rudolph Otto, in his book, The Idea of the Holy, writes a brief work here outlining the main points of his theory- that religion can't be understood and never can be as an empirical study- it is beyond our sense horizon. Religion is to be savored, felt- not thought about or deconstructed, like, taking an engine apart. What Otto, in other words, tries to do is to, rather than studying how a flower produces a pleasing scent and how we perceive it, says STOP and just smell the rose- and you'll understand in an instant. This is the experience beyond what Ayer requires, the verifiable propositions.

As a Lutheran, Otto understood the Catholic sacramental theology very well-that a sacrament is an outward sign of an inner grace or reality, and that signs and symbols work hand in hand- a sign points to a reality ahead, like a clap of thunder signifies a storm. A symbol conveys within itself the very reality it is expressing- for example, perhaps the greatest being a kiss between husband and wife- the reality is perfectly conveyed in the symbolic action itself, without further clarification. THAT is experience, true spirituality, what he means by the numinous, as applied. It is thus existential. Too much wasted time and energy is spent in Greek thought, that of the West, as much could be spared by understanding Otto's presentation of the "holy, " as years of theology could be distilled to the contents of such books as that of Otto's.

The mystical experience can be described as having various dimensions, the 4th being described by Lex Hixon as
"In the fourth dimension, nothing is excluded from our contemplation. Primal radiance and the infinite expressions of Life are fused. Our ishtadeva or Archetype is everywhere. The holy sacraments of all cultures have become our sacraments, the ways of all beings have become our ways. Every content of consciousness proclaims the fusion of forms and the formless radiance that is their essence. At this moment, with open eyes, each of us is directly perceiving the fusion of all phenomena as primal radiance. It is not simply a contemplative notion. Even our physical senses, functioning in an ordinary manner, record this fusion. All is fusion. The four dimensions are one." (2)
THE FOUR DIMENSIONS OF CONTEMPLATION: 

1) Contemplating a Divine form,
2) loss of self in Divine form or presence itself,
3) Both self and Divine form or presence disappears and finally,
4) The primal radiance reveals itself as all patterns of Being, which reappear in an eternal stream, flowing from the core of the particular ishtadeva or Archetype that we are one.

In addition to other cultural mystical experiences, there are the 10 stages of kensho as described in the Ox Herding calligraphy in Zen Buddhism.

"Mysticism," a much-maligned word, is not an easy one to define. It takes many forms. yet through the ages, mystics of every shade of religious belief have spoke of unity, of an underlying connectedness between things; between men and women, between us and the other creatures and even inanimate matter as well, a fitting together according to an ordinarily invisible fabric underlying the cosmos. Remember the experience when, during community, I suddenly saw my previously hated neighbor as myself. Smelling his dead cigar butts and hearing his guttural snoring, I was filled with utter distaste for him until that strange mystical moment when I saw myself sitting in his chair and realized he was the sleeping part of me and I the waking part of him. We were suddenly connected. More than connected, we were integral parts of the same unity.

Mysticism also obviously has to do with mystery. Mystics acknowledge the enormity of the unknown, but rather than being frightened by it, they seek to penetrate ever deeper into it that they may understand more--even with the realization that the more they understand, the greater the mystery will become. They love mystery, in dramatic contrast to those in Stage II, who need simple, clear-cut dogmatic structures and have little taste for the unknown and unknowable. While Stage IV men and women will enter religion in order to approach mystery, people in Stage II, to a considerable extent, enter religion in order to escape from it. Thus there is the confusion of people entering not only into religion, but into the same religion--and sometimes the same denomination--not only for different motives, but for totally opposite motives. It makes no sense until we come to understand the roots of religious pluralism in terms of developmental stages.

Finally, mystics throughout the ages have not only spoken of emptiness but extolled its virtues. I have labeled Stage IV communal as well as mystical not because all mystics or even a majority of them live in communes but because among human beings they are the ones most aware that the whole world is a community and realize that what divides us into warring camps is precisely the lack of this awareness. Having become practiced at emptying themselves of preconceived notions and prejudices and able to perceive the invisible underlying fabric that connects everything, they do not think in terms of factions or blocs or even national boundaries; they know this to be one world.

There are of course many gradations within and between the four stages of spiritual development. We actually have a name of the person between Stage I and II: the backslider. This is the kind of man (we will use men for our example for the sake of simplicity: women also fall in between but tend to have slightly more subtle styles of doing so) who drinks, gambles, and leads a generally dissolute existence until some good Stage II folk come along and have a chat with him and he is saved. For the next two years he leads a sober and righteous and God-fearing life until one day his found back in a bar, a brothel, or at the racetrack. He is saved a second time, but once again he backslides, and continues bouncing back and forth between Stage I and Stage II.

Similarly, people bounce back and forth between Stage II and Stage III. There is the kind of man, for example, who says to himself: "it isn't that I don't believe in God anymore, the trees, the flowers and the clouds are so beautiful that obviously no human intelligence could have crated them; some divine intelligence must have set it all in motion billions of years ago, but it's just as beautiful out on the golf course on Sunday morning as it is in church, and I can worship my god just as well there." Which he does for a few years until his business undergoes a mild reversal, and in panic he says to himself, "Oh, my God, I haven't been praying." So back to church he goes for a couple of more years until there is an upturn in the economy (for all I know because he's been praying so hard), and gradually he begins to slip back out onto his Stage III golf course again.

Similarly, we see people bouncing back and forth between Stage III and Stage IV. A neighbor of mine was one such person. By day Michael expressed his highly analytic mind with brilliant accuracy and precision, and he was just about the dullest human being I have ever had to listen to. Occasionally in the evening, however, after he had drunk a bit of whisky or smoked a little marijuana, Michael would begin to talk of life and death and meaning and glory and become "spirit filled," and I would sit listening at his feet enthralled. But the next day he would exclaim apologetically, "God, I don't know what got into me last night; I was saying the stupidest things. I've got to stop smoking grass and drinking." I do not mean to bless the use of drugs for such purposes but simply to state the reality that in his case they loosened him up enough to flow in the direction he was being called, from which in the cold light of day he retreated back in terror to the "rational" safety of Stage III.

Perhaps, predictably, there exists a sense of threat among people in the different stages of religious development. Mostly we are threatened by people in the stages above us. Although they often adopt the pretense of being "cool cats" who have it "all together," underneath their exteriors Stage I people are threatened by just about everything and everyone. Stage II people are not threatened by Stage I people, the "sinners." They are commanded to love sinners, but they are very threatened by the individualists and skeptics of Stage III, and even more by the mystics of Stage IV, who seem to believe in the same sorts of things they do but believe in them with a freedom they find absolutely terrifying. Stage III people, on the other hand, are neither threatened by Stage I people nor by Stage II people (whom they simply regard as superstitious), but are cowed by Stage IV people, who seem to be scientific minded like themselves and know how to write good footnotes, yet somehow still believe in this crazy God business.

It is extremely important for teachers, healers, and ministers (and we are all of us teachers, healers, and ministers whether we like it or not; our only choice is whether to be good teachers, healers, and ministers or bad ones) to be cognizant of this sense of threat between people in the different stages of this sense of threat between people in the different stages of spiritual growth. Much of the art of being a good teacher, healer, or minister consists largely in staying just one step ahead of your patients, clients, or pupils. If you are not ahead, it is unlikely that you will be able to lead then anywhere, but if you are two steps ahead, it is likely that you will lose them. If people are one step ahead of us, we usually admire them. If they are two steps ahead of us, we usually think they are evil. That's why Socrates and Jesus were killed; they were thought to be evil.

Similarly, it is very difficult to reach down two or more steps. For this reason a Stage IV person, even though advanced himself or herself, will not be the best therapist for many. Generally speaking, Stage II people and programs offer the best therapy for Stage I people. Psychiatrists and psychologists in this country - primarily a Stage III group - have generally served their culture well as guides for those making the journey out of a dependent Stage II mentality. Stage IV therapists do best leading highly independent people toward a recognition of the mystical interdependence of this world. Most all of us are pulling someone up with one hand while we ourselves are being pulled up by the other.

An understanding of the stages of spiritual development is important for building community. A group of only Stage IV people or only Stage III people or only Stage II people is, of course, not so much a community as a clique. A true community will likely include people of all stages. With this understanding, it is possible for people in different stages to transcend the sense of threat that divides them and to become a true community.

In my experience the most dramatic example of this possibility occurred in a relatively small community-building group I led several years ago. To this two-day group of twenty-five there came ten fundamentalist, Stage II Christians, five Stage III atheists with their own guru - a brilliant, highly rational trial lawyer - and ten Stage IV mystical Christians. There were moments I despaired that we would never make it into community. The fundamentalists were furious that I, their supposed leader, smoked and drank and vigorously attempted to heal me of my hypocrisy and addiction. The mystics equally vigorously challenged the fundamentalists sexism intolerance and other forms of rigidity. Both of course were utterly dedicated to converting the atheists. The atheists in turn, sneered at the arrogance of us Christians in even daring to think that we had gotten hold of some kind of truth. Nonetheless, after approximately twelve hours of the most intense struggle together to empty ourselves of our intolerances, we became able to let one another be, each in his or her own stage. And we became a community. But we could not have done so without the cognitive awareness of the different stages of spiritual development and the realization that we were not all "in the same place," and that that was literally all right.

My experience suggests that this progression of spiritual development holds true in all cultures and for all religions. Indeed, one of the things that seems to characterized all the great religions--Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism--is their capacity to speak to people in both Stage II and Stage IV. In fact, I suspect this is why they are great religions. It is as if the words of each had two different translations. Let us take a Christian example. "Jesus is my savior." At Stage II this is often translated into a Jesus who is a kind of fairy godmother who will rescue me whenever I get in trouble as long as I remember to call upon his name. And that's true. He will do just that. At Stage IV, "Jesus is my savior" is translated as "Jesus, through his life and death, taught me the way I must follow for my salvation." Which is also true. Two totally different meanings, but both of them true.

Again in my experience, the four stages of spiritual development also represent a paradigm for healthy psychological development. We tend to be born Stage I creatures. If the home into which we are born is stable and secure, by mid childhood we have become law-abiding, rule-following people. If the home at all supports and encourages our uniqueness and independence, in adolescence we routinely question the laws, the rules, and the myths as budding skeptics. And if the natural forces of growth that lead us to question are not excessively resisted by threats of damnation from church or parents, after a while, in adulthood we slowly begin to understand the meaning and spirit that underlie the letter of the myth and the letter of the law. They may, however, be destructive forces in the home environment which causes people to become "fixated" in one stage or another. Conversely there are rare, difficult to explain cases of people who develop further and faster than would be expected. The wonderful and probably accurate book Mister God, This Is Anna, for instance, described a seven year-old girl already well into Stage IV, despite a presumably chaotic early childhood.

It is also important to remember that no matter how far we develop spiritual, we retain in ourselves vestiges of the previous stages through which we have come, just as we retain our vestigial appendix. I don't suppose I could be writing this were I not basically a kind of Stage IV person. But I can assure you that there exists a Stage I Scott Peck, who at the first sign of any significant stress is quite tempted to lie and cheat and steal. I keep him well encased, I hope, in a rather comfortable cell, so that he won't be let loose upon the world. And I am able to do this only because I acknowledge his existence, which is what Jungian psychologists mean by the "integration of the Shadow." Indeed, I do not attempt to kill him, if for no other reason than that I need to go down into the dungeon from time to time and consult him, safely ensconced behind the bars, when I am in need of a particular kind of "street smarts." Similarly, there is a Stage II Scott Peck, who in moments of stress and fatigue would very much like to have a Big Brother or Big Daddy around who would give him some clear-cut, black-and-white answers to life's difficult, ambiguous dilemmas and some formulas to tell him how to behave, relieving him of the responsibility of figuring it all out for himself And there is a Stage III Scott Peck, who if invited to address a prestigious scientific assembly, under the stress of such an occasion would want to regress to thinking. Well, I better just talk to them about carefully controlled, measurable studies and not mention any of this God business.

The development of the individual through these spiritual or religious stages is that process to which we most properly give the name conversion. I have mentioned that conversions from Stage I to Stage II are usually sudden and dramatic conversions from Stage III to Stage IV are generally gradual. The first time I ever spoke of these stages was at a symposium in conjunction with the psychologist Paul Vitz, author of Psychology as Religion. During the question and answer period Paul was asked when he had become a Christian. He scratched his head for a moment and said bemusedly, "Let's see; it was somewhere between 1972 and 1976." Compare this with the more familiar image of the man who will tell you: "It was at eight-thirty in the evening of the seventeenth of August!"

It is during the process of conversion from Stage III to Stage IV that people generally first become conscious that there is such a thing as spiritual growth. There is a potential pitfall in this consciousness, however, and that is the notion some have at this point that they themselves can direct the process. "If I take a bit of Sufi dancing here," they tell themselves, "and visit a Trappist monastery there, and do a bit of Zen meditation as well, along with some zest, I will reach nirvana." But that's not how it operates, as the myth of Icarus tells us. Icarus wanted to reach the sun (which symbolizes God). So out of feathers and wax he built himself a pair of wings. But as soon as he even began to get close to the sun, its heat melted his man-made wings and he plummeted to his destruction. One meaning of this myth, I believe, is that we cannot get to God under our own steam. We must allow God to do the directing.

In any case, whether sudden or gradual, no mater how different in other respects, Stages I to II and Stages III to IV conversions do have one thing in common: a sense on the part of the persons converted that their own conversions were not something they themselves achieved but rather gifts from God. Certainly I can say of my own gradual Stages III to IV conversion that I was not smart enough to find my way alone.

As a part of the process of spiritual growth, the transition from Stage II to Stage III is also a conversion. We can be converted to atheism or agnosticism or, at least, skepticism! Indeed, I have every reason to believe that God has a hand in this part of the conversion process as well. One of the greatest challenges, in fact, facing the Church, is how to facilitate the conversion of its members from Stage II to Stage IV without them having to spend a whole adult lifetime in Stage III. It is a challenge that the Church has historically avoided rather than begun to face. As far as I am concerned, one of the two greatest sins of our sinful Christian Church has been its discouragement through the ages, of doubt. In so doing, it has consistently driven growing people out of its potential community, often fixating them thereby in a perpetual resistance to spiritual insights. Conversely, the Church is not going to meet this challenge until doubt is properly considered a Christian virtue--indeed a Christian responsibility. We neither can, nor should skip over questioning in our development.

In fact it is only through the process of questioning that we begin to become even dimly aware that the whole point of life is the development of souls. As I said, the notion that we can totally direct this development is a pitfall of such awareness. But the beauty of the consciousness that we are all on an ongoing spiritual journey and that there is no end to our conversion far outshines that one pitfall. for once we become aware that we are on a journey--that we are all pilgrims--for the first time we can actually begin to cooperate consciously with God in the process. This is why Paul Vitz, at the symposium I mentioned, correctly told the audience: "I think Scott's stages have a good idea of validity, and I suspect that I shall be using them in my practice, but I want you to remember that what Scotty calls Stage IV is the beginning.
TRANSCENDING CULTURE 

The process of spiritual development I have described is highly analogous to the development of community. Stage I people are frequently pretenders: they pretend they are loving and pious, covering up their lack of principles. The first, primitive stage of group formation--pseudocommunity--is similarly characterized to pretense. The group tries to look like a community without doing any of the work involved.

Stage II people have begun the work of submitting themselves to principle--the law, but they do not yet understand the spirit of the law. Consequently they are legalistic, parochial, and dogmatic. They are threatened by anyone who thinks differently from them, and so regard as their responsibility to convert or save the other 99 percent of humanity who are not "true believers." It is this same style of functioning that characterizes the second stage of the community process in which the group members, rather then accepting one another try vehemently to fix on another. The chaos that results is not unlike that existing among the various feuding denominations or sects within or between the world's different religions.

Stage III, a phase of questioning, is analogous to the crucial stage of emptiness in community formation. In reaching for community the members of a group must question themselves, "Is my particular theology so certain--so true and complete--as to justify my conclusion that these other people are not saved?," they may ask. Or, "I wonder to what extent my feelings about homosexuals represent a prejudice bearing little relation to the reality?" Or, "Could I have swallowed the party line in thinking that all religious people are fanatics?" Indeed, such questioning is the required beginning of the emptying process. We cannot succeed in emptying ourselves of preconceptions, prejudices, needs to control or convert, and so forth, without first becoming skeptical of them and without doubting their necessity. Conversely, individuals remain stuck in Stage III precisely because they do not doubt deeply enough. To enter Stage IV they must begin to empty themselves of some of the dogmas of skepticism such as: "Anything that can't be measured scientifically can't be known and isn't worth studying." They must begin to doubt even their own doubt.

Does this mean, then, that a true community is a group of all Stage IV people? Paradoxically the answer is yes and no. It is no because the individual members are hardly capable of growing so rapidly as to totally discard their customary styles of thinking when they return from the group to their usual worlds. But it is yes because in community the members have learned how to behave in a Stage IV manner in relation to one another. Among themselves, they all practice the kind of emptiness, acceptance, and inclusiveness that have characterized the behavior of mystics throughout the ages. They retain their basic identity as Stages I, II, III, or IV individuals. Indeed knowledge of these stages is in part so important because it facilitates the acceptance of one another as being in different stages -- different places spiritually. Such acceptance is a perquisite for community. But wonderfully, once such acceptance is achieved--and it can be achieved only through emptiness--Stage I, II, and III men and women routinely possess the capacity to act toward one another as if they were Stage IV people. In other words, out of love and community to the whole, virtually all of us are capable of transcending our backgrounds and limitations. So it is genuine community is so much more than the sum of its parts. It is, in truth, a mystical body.

The individual journey through the stages of spiritual development is also a journey in and out of culture. Erich Fromm once defined socialization as the process of "learning to like to do what we have to do." It is what happens when we learn to feel natural about going to the bathroom in the toilet. The conversion from Stage I to Stage II is essentially a leap of socialization or enculturation. It is that point at which we first adopt the values of our tribal, cultural religion and begin to make them our own. Just as Stage II people tend to be threatened, however, by any questioning of their religious dogmas, so they are also "culture-bound"--utterly convinced that the way things are done in their culture is the right and only way. And just as people entering Stage III begin to question the religious doctrines with which they were raised, so they also begin to question all the cultural values of the society into which they were born. Finally, as they begin to reach for Stage IV, they also begin to reach toward the notion of world community and the possibility of either transcending culture or -- depending on which way you want to use the words -- belonging to a planetary culture.

Aldous Huxley labeled mysticism "the perennial philosophy" because the mystical way of thinking and being has existed in all cultures and all times since the dawn of recorded history. Although a small minority, mystics of all religions the world over have demonstrated an amazing commonality, unity. Unique though they might be in their individual personhood, they have largely escaped free from -- transcended -- those human differences that are cultural.

FOOTNOTES:

1 Alfred Jules Ayer, Language, Truth & Logic, pp. 119-120
2 Lex Hixon, Coming Home, The Experience of Enlightenment in Sacred Traditions, pp. 197-198