Mind and Movement 10 – The History of Physical and Spiritual Healing in Different Cultures

A knowledge of history helps us have a wider and more tolerant view of ourselves and others. In connection with coex it helps us to have a more educated approach to the sort of claims made by groups such as Subud, that they have a unique power they are sharing with the world. In fact, their unique ‘force’ has appeared many times before in slightly different guises, but also obvious forms of coex.

Although the use of the self-regulatory forces in the human being is not new to our own times, it has waxed and waned with each culture. Each culture and period in history has also developed a slightly different theoretical explanation, and different approach. The overall change has been that the further back one looks, the more relig­ious and symbolic the approach – the nearer we come to our own times the more empirical and rational it has been.

Even from the earliest historical times there is evidence that humans used medical and psychological skills to deal with physical and psychic disorders. Shamans, witch-doctors, priests and priestesses were the early administra­tors of such help. Although some of their techniques were originally judged as ineffective, the growth of psychobiological knowledge has shown them to incorporate elements of hypnosis, suggestion treatment, use of the dream process, with herbal knowledge.

Psychologists like Patricia Norris, clinical director of the Biofeedback and Psychophysiology Centre at the Meninger Foundation, are experimenting with such techniques and finding they work. Norris uses imaging or visualisation methods to help people heal serious illness such as cancer. Whether we look at shamanic or modern psycho­logical usage, what we find is that the technique helps the patient develop a more positive inner feeling state in regard to their physical illness or fears. The self-regulatory process attempts this sort of shift itself in dreaming, and the techniques such as the dramatic rituals of shamanism, produced an environment where the coex linked dramatisation already described in other chapters could be ex­pressed. Modern research suggests that this may actually lead the activity of the immune system to greater efficiency.

Whether we look at the approach used by the Hindus, Chinese, Celts, Red Indians, Africans or Aborigines, they were very holistic. They were aimed at producing not only physical and psychological changes, but also to bring the patient into a more satisfying relationship with their environment and their social group. In this sense they linked physical mental and spiritual aspects of the person.

Looking at the details of some of these approaches it can be seen that amongst the ‘stone age’ type races, most had a powerful relationship with their dream life. The energies and emotions in a dream were often given expression. This was done in a variety of ways. Sometimes they were acted out in a group drama or dance. The Seneca Indians said that the soul often has desires it has been unable to express consciously. The Hurons believed that if these hidden desires were kept unexpressed the soul might be­come angry, and it might revolt ‘against the body, causing various diseases, and even death. . .’ To quote from my book Do You Dream:


The Indian tribes mentioned often had a sort of social psychiatry in which dreamers were allowed to live out their hidden (unconscious) desires that were threatening health and well being. Thus a dreamer would be allowed sexual freedoms with others; unlawful actions; objects desired; or feasts, etc. . Although these people as a society were usually modest and shy, and chastity and marital fidelity were public ideals.

This very direct admittance and expression of real needs is not common, either in the past or present. Most often the energies were given religious, dance, or ritualistic expression. One tribe, the Masai, came near to it however. The men form a group which shout, sing, cry, scream, dance and move to express their bottled-up feelings, fears and energy. No doubt this provides an environment for spontaneous action to erupt.

Sex and Coex in New Guinea

Michaela Denis, in her book Leopard In My Lap, tells of an interesting practise used by the Chimbu people of New Guinea. One of their ‘dances’ takes the form of the men and women sitting around the edge of a large hut. They are arranged alternately male and female, the men facing the women. With accompanying drumming they gradual­ly draw close and the men passionately rub noses and faces with the woman on their right, then the one on their left. This carries on for a long period and with obvious pleasure and ardour. The dance seems to be a way of safely allowing the sexual feelings within a group to find expression.

In the ancient world a great many of the ways people used coex was within a religious framework. The unconscious was allowed to express within accepted symbols and boundaries. Frequently the practitioner held the belief structure that it was a god or a spirit which expressed through them. Given the manner in which the unconscious expresses itself in symbols and readily takes up and uses any available belief system, such practices still obviously remain as self regulatory. In Man and His Symbols Jung tells of a Hindu widow who capably directed her household and employees by going into a trance and speaking with the same confidence, voice and authority as her dead husband. After all, she had lived with him many years, and his mannerisms and attitudes were well recorded in her un­conscious. By allowing her being to express itself in that way, she maintained an equilibrium which might other­wise have been difficult.

Shaktipat- The Indian Way to Enlightenment

In his article Between Coma and Convulsion, in Energy and Character, David Boadella quotes the report of a person studying the self-regulatory practices in India. Although this is a recent account, the yoga practice it describes has been used for many centuries in India:

I have been in India for about four months now and I thought the readers of Energy and Character might be interested in the similarities between Reichian work and Shaktipat or Kriya Yoga. The Sanscrit word ‘shakti’ means energy, bio-energy, or more correctly, bio- cosmic energy. Shaktipat is a practice which is described as the loosening of this energy by a guru from the way it may be blocked in us. When this shakti energy is loosened and no longer tightly bound by the control of the conscious mind it begins to circulate in the body. It is then said to open up energy channels or pathways, and usually begins to manifest in what are known as ‘kriya’. Kriyas are spontaneous movements of the body and of the respiratory system. One interesting aspect of kriyas, which resemble Reichian abreaction, is that they very often manifest as highly involved asanas (body postures) and as mudras (meditational postures involving the hands). I have seen many persons who practice shakipat enter a phase of intense energy flow in which breathing becomes rapid and involuntary and in which people begin with great rapidity to do asanas they never knew and which they ordinarily would never have been able to perform. Although the conscious practice of asanas facilitates this process, true hatha yoga (Indian techniques using physiological processes to integrate ones being) occurs involuntarily in this kriya phase. The burst of energy that results is sometimes astounding and may continue for well over an hour. The movements in some individuals are so intense and frantic they appear dangerous. In other persons the movements are soft, delicate and flowing. Thus some persons may breathe like locomotives, beat themselves repeatedly, stand on their heads, bellow, twist their limbs in the most unbelievable postures; others begin to dance harmoniously, to sing softly in languages they have never learned, to be­come playful and flirtatious and to utter strange sounds.

The explanation for this is that the shakti is opening or purifying obstructions in the energy pathways, that the individual is working out the results of past actions and experience, and that an evolutionary process is allowed to unfold which eventually will result in an expansion of awareness.

In this kind of meditation the individual sits still, but not rigidly; he doesn’t concentrate in any way, but simply relaxes as much as possible and permits the energy to do its thing. The energy is of course thought of as ultimately cosmic or divine. Hence the path of enlighten­ment lies in relinquishing ego control and identifications and allowing this bio-cosmic energy to express itself and lead us. The final results of this process is the opening of the highest brain centres in a new type of consciousness in which the individual merges with the universal consciousness. The total process takes a very long time but this should not dissuade us as each stage has its own rewards. The bodily spasms, automatic breathing, asanas, contortions and reflex patterns that manifest spontaneously as the energy gains momentum all serve to purify the organism. Though some of these phenomena may sound strange they are not experienced as unpleasant once the practitioner no longer totally identifies with bodily processes. Thus the meditator can be totally in their body without identifying totally with its experiences.

Hallucination or is it My Unconscious Speaking?

This very precise description shows that Shaktipat is quite clearly of the spiritualistic belief structure mentioned else­where. In spiritualistic trances of the stone age races and of today, similar processes to the above are being expressed, but within different boundaries and limitations. Modern day spiritualists still use this approach to the self-regulatory process of the unconscious. The unconscious has no dif­ficulty in speaking in different ‘languages’, or expressing different racial types, personalities, or even animals.

In any attempt to understand the type of experiences described above, one needs to know a little about the vari­ous functions of the unconscious. The process of dream making and waking drama formation have already been covered, but one other aspect is important. It is the function which deals with body language. Humans have an ability to ‘read’ body language, but it usually takes place unconsciously. It was probably developed in the human race prior to the emergence of spoken language as we know it today. Now it remains as an almost unused func­tion, but operates at times during shock or ‘trance’ conditions – i.e., when the conscious personality surrenders its decision making arid critical faculties. Philip Zimbardo, in the tenth edition of Psychology and Life (Scott, Foresman & Co.), gives a fascinating example of this from his own experience. “It was my first day back to work after recover­ing from a traumatic automobile accident. I was lucky to be alive with only torn ligaments in my leg and a concussion: the driver had been killed by the impact of a head-on collision. As I hobbled up the three flights of stairs sup­ported by a crutch, my initial joy of returning to school was suddenly suspended. With each step I took a strange sensa­tion occurred: I could ‘feel’ myself BECOMING my younger brother, George. Not IMAGINE ‘as if’ I were George, but being transformed physically to be him.

I perceived my face changing to he his face and my body doing likewise. My limp became more pronounced, and it took great strength to climb the last flight. In a panic, I shut myself in my office, not wanting anyone to wit­ness this strange transformation. I avoided looking at my reflection in the window for fear I would see his face and hot mimic. Had I really become my brother or was I MERELY hallucinating?

Time passed during which I tried frantically to relax, ‘to pull myself together,’ and make sense of my distorted sense impressions. After all, I was a normal, serious scientist type not given to such flights of fancy. I lived by the reality principle.

My secretary and colleagues knocked and came into the office before I could say I was busy. They were worried by my abrupt disappearing act. They were relieved to see I was ‘my old self again,’ and I was relieved to see them responding to me as if I were Phil and not George. A glance at my reflection confirmed my hope. I had changed back, ‘or was no longer George

• or George was no longer manifesting himself in me.’ Whatever? Weird, no? But why?

When we were children, George had infantile paraly­sis and for a time had to wear leg braces and walk with crutches. I would accompany him to therapy sessions and observe his frustration, embarrassment, and anger at not being able to function normally. Since we were only eighteen months apart in age, I could readily empathise with his feelings. I may have also felt guilty at being glad I too was not crippled. Once I recall volun­teering to exchange places with him in the swimming pool exercises, but the nurse chided me, ‘being crippled is not fun and games young man.’ I was about four at the time.

As I hobbled up the stairs to my office some twenty five years later, the pattern of feedback sensory stimula­tion reactivated this prerecorded motor action plan. Memories of George’s posture and movement were enacted. I had retained mimicry responses of his motor activity that I had observed so intensely. Now I was changing places with him, but not consciously and not volitionally. The suddenness and vividness of the hallucination was frightening because it was so real, yet at the same time contradicted my knowledge of reality.

Philip Zimbardo calls his experience an hallucination, perhaps because he felt fear. However, if we remember something we do not call it an hallucination but a memory. Realising that we remember via body feelings, posture, emotion as well as images and words, enables us to see that Philip, because he was in a similar situation to that which his brother had been, remembered a whole set of responses. During coex such experiences are not unusual. When they are not seen as abnormal we can accept them without anxiety and they add to our range of information and experience. In fact, if Philip had not been disturbed by his experience, but had sought it as a means of understanding his brother, he could have gathered a great deal of inform­ation from it. If we realise that we gather such information from everybody we contact, we can see that we have a very rich source of insight into the lives of those around us. These are important points to understand because we are looking at historical approaches to coex. They help to explain why some uses of coex, which appear fantastic or irrational to us, were in fact extremely useful in sonic settings.

Trances Spirit Healing and Possession

Carol Laderman, an anthropologist who went to study childbirth practices in Malaysia, found that shamanic healers, who it was thought had disappeared 75 years ago, were still an everyday part of village life, (Science Digest July 1983, Trances That Heal-Rites Rituals and Brain Chemicals). To study their methods she became the apprentice of Pak Long Awang, himself a traditional shamanic healer. It is interesting that although she is highly educated in Western thought, she has the same fear of the unconscious as Philip Zimbardo. She says,

For almost two years after my arrival in the village, I refused to undergo one of the shaman’s trances. Having become a member of Pak Long’s entourage, I had attended healing ceremonies with growing regularity; the shaman had even adopted me as his own daughter. Still, as a Westerner and a scientist, I was afraid to enter trances – afraid I might embarrass myself or, worse, never come out at all. My reluctance became a standing joke among the villagers.

She goes on to say what some of the healing sessions she attended were like. A very fat woman for instance, who regularly experienced depression because of her awkward­ness and girth, while ‘entranced’ by the music of drums and gongs, and Pak Long’s chants, rose from her ‘sleeping mat’ with the grace of a lithe young girl and danced the role of the beautiful princess in the Malay Opera before a delighted audience of friends and neighbours. Afterwards her ailment disappeared.

Eventually Carol took the plunge herself.

As the vibrations of the drums and gongs entered my body, my eyes seemed to glaze over. As the music became louder my mouth opened, trembling uncon­trollably. I began to feel cold winds blowing inside my chest, winds that increased in intensity as the music swelled and accelerated until it felt as if a hurricane was raging within my heart. I put my hands on my chest to try to calm it, but instead I began to move my shoulders and then the upper part of my body as if I were about to get up and dance. With the last vestiges of my self control, I prevented myself; I still feared embarrassment But as the music swelled to a climax I began to move my head so quickly and violently that, had I not been in trance, my neck would undoubtedly have snapped.

What Carol Laderman describes appears to be just the same sort of movements as those experienced in ‘Shakti­pat’ and in modern coex. The approach, however, is quite different. In Shaktipat ‘trance’ is achieved by the individual sitting “still, but not rigidly; he does not concentrate in any way, but simply relaxes.” In Malaysian shamanism, trance is entered “through cultural cues, ritual props, incantations, songs and stories. Percussive music, a steady, musical pulse.” In modern coex similar states can be ex­perienced simply by allowing spontaneous movement. So it seems as if all that is important is that the persons own fears, cultural theories and needs are respected. For instance in Haiti, the trance is often accompanied by ‘possession’ by the god Ghede, which is manifested by a particular phy­sical posture.

Buddhism and the Way of Liberation

Ancient approaches to coex were not always in the form of trance or possession though. Two thousand five hundred years ago Guatama the Buddha gave an impulse to the world which has developed a quite different relationship with self regulatory processes. In terms of coex we can see these as Zen meditation. Tibetan Buddhism, the Chinese meditation described in the book The Secret of The Golden Flower, and Vipassana meditation. In these an open permit­ting state of consciousness is held. Thus the experiences described under Shaktipat may arise into consciousness. In the Buddhist tradition though, these are held back from physical expression and seen as illusory aspects of self which will pass away. As with Shaktipat and most of the older approaches, one seldom hears of people experiencing and transforming childhood experience. The direct experience of ourselves in this way is more Western than Eastern, though definitely not our exclusive property. What is noticeable in the Buddhist tradition is more of an em­phasis on introversion and withdrawal from the external activity. Thus, what is discovered within is seldom used to change social structure in the way described in chapter seven. But in its essence, Buddhism does not suggest this one sidedness of retreat. And in the techniques of Zen and Vipassana, especially in their Western adaptations, a really helpful approach to coex is seen. Perhaps the most useful aspect of the training is in the opening and letting go of the ego, yet learning not to be lost in the forces and images which arise.

A very clear example of this is given in Tibetan Bud­dhism. Such teachings are very old. In her book Secret Oral Teachings of Tibetan Buddhist Sects, Alexandra David-Neal writes:

Liberation is achieved by the practice of non-activity,

say the Masters of the Secret Teachings.

What is, according to them, non-activity? Let us first of all notice that it has nothing in common with the quietism of certain Christian or oriental mystics. Ought one to believe that it consists in inertia and that the disciples of the Masters who honour it are exhorted to abstain from doing anything whatever? Certainly not. In the first place it is impossible for a living being to do nothing. To exist is, in itself, a kind of activity. The doctrine of non-action does not in any way aim at those actions which are habitual in life such as eating, sleeping, walking, speaking, reading, studying, etc. In contradistinction to the Taoist mystics who, in general, consider that the practice of non-activity requires com­plete isolation in a hermitage, the Masters of the Secret Teachings, although prone to appreciate the ‘joys of solitude’, do not consider them in any way indispen­sable. As for the practice of non-activity itself, they judge it as absolutely necessary for the production of the state of deliverance.

What then is this activity from which one ought to abstain? It is the disordered activity of the mind which, unceasingly, devotes itself to the work of a builder erecting ideas, creating an imaginary world in which it shuts itself like a chrysalis in its cocoon.

In the Buddhist meditation called Vipassana, the process of self regulation is allowed to let the flow of consciousness present ones innate images, fears, hopes and imaginings about life and death, and to recognise them for what they are – images, fears, hopes and ideas. In this way the attach­ment and even pain we experienced in connection with them falls away in some degree. That is liberation.

Christianity’s Unwanted Secret

Another impulse more embedded in Western culture, but perhaps less accepted today, is that begun by the early Christians. This is very definitely an example of a group of people permitting the self-regulatory action to express itself consciously. It is what we call Pentecostalism, and from the point of view of coex, is in may ways similar to Shaktipat. The guru, Jesus, was the means of stimulating the release, or giving ‘grace’. Because we are acquainted with the dogmas and belief structure of Christianity in sonic measure, we can more readily see how a natural process, self regulation, can become deified and surround­ed by religious symbols and ritual. Just as the views of Buddhism and shamanism edited what aspects of the un­conscious were permissible, (i.e. in Vipassana it is not acceptable to go into ‘trance’ or be ‘possessed’. In shamanism it is thought ineffective if one only sits and remains aware of the flow of arising images) so in the Pentecostal approach, what is allowed must in some way link with Christ, God or biblical statements. Nevertheless, the ‘drunkenness’, speaking in ‘tongues’, the flow of cosmic energy – holy ghost – are all akin to Shaktipat and modern coex.

Pentecostal Christianity speaks of gifts of the spirit. These are listed as the gift of: the word of wisdom; the word of knowledge; faith healing; the working of mira­cles; prophecy; the discerning of spirits; diverse kinds of tongues; and interpretation of tongues.

Most of these are easily recognizable descriptions of faculties of the unconscious. The unconscious is constantly scanning information and considering the highest probable outcome – thus prophecy. Access to universal aspects of consciousness allow the gaining of insights which might also account for prophecy, wisdom and words of knowl­edge. Speaking in tongues is a common way in which the

unconscious expresses its feelings and insights. It is a level three expression in Van Rhijn/Caldwell’s levels of con­sciousness. When the ‘tongues’ are considered as symbolic expression they transform into meaningful words, just as dream symbols do. My experiments with such phenomena convincingly show the common link between these often considered unrelated phenomena and coex.

Discerning of spirits means the ability to look into a human heart and see what is hidden there. Considering how much we can learn subliminally through body langu­age and verbal cues, this is another straightforward uncon­scious faculty. But imagine a group of people all ‘worship­ping’ as is described of Pentecost, when the disciples were taken to be drunk. (Acts 1:12 to 2:13) There were 120 gathered in a room, men and women being equals – “All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” Considering present day Pentecos­talism and other forms of coex, this large group would include people who would be shouting in tongues, others would be crying, moving their bodies, discerning spirits, and generally creating a bedlam of noise. Any newcomer to the group, not having had explained what was being attempted – that each be open to the Spirit and be moved by it – might think the people were crazy or drunk.

Saint Paul Killer of the Spontaneous

Because of the obvious cultural fear we have regarding spontaneous expression, it is interesting to remind our­selves of what Paul said to the early Christians (Cor 1.14:26 to 40)

If therefore the whole church assembles and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say you are mad?

If any speak in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, and each in turn; and let one interpret. But if there is no one to interpret let each of them keep silence in church and speak to himself and God.

•  . . As in all the churches of the saints, the women

should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate as even the law (Jewish law?) says. . . For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

Comparing the original Pentecost with the church services of today, I believe it is obvious where Paul’s advice, still rooted in Jewish male authoritarianism, led Christianity. The church gained converts, but as for helping it to experience the calm love of life the guru who consorted with prostitutes had, Paul played the role of murderer.

Mesmer Father of Modern Psychotherapy

Coming nearer to our own times we find a connecting link between past and present in Franz Anton Mesmer. In about the year 1775 Mesmer, a qualified doctor three times over, began to experiment with magnets. He found that patients who had previously been incurable were healed when these were placed on their bodies. For a year he had a mania for experimenting with magnets in quite extra­ordinary ways. But within that period he realised the same healing results could be obtained without using the magnets. He found that simply by stroking or touching the patient along the line of the nerves, the muscles would begin to twitch. This twitching, he said, should not cause alarm, even if it led, as it usually did, to an intensification of the patients symptoms or even convulsive movements. Throughout these releases, noisy and explosive though they were, he saw how patients could experience a healing of the distressing symptoms.

Prior to this time these convulsive releases were considered to be the work of devils or spirits. This attitude arose out of Christian belief, and Jesus and the disciples clearly used the same technique. In the New Testament are descriptions of people cured by these convulsive releases. Mesmer is a transforming link with our own times because his approach to this phenomena was an experimental and evaluative one. Nevertheless he was still bound to the past by his belief that another human beings presence was necessary to act as a channel for a cosmic energy to reach the sick person. Thus he still remained, in this aspect, in connection with the guru as agent of change tradition.

Stefan Zweig, in his book Mental Healers, describes Mesmer’s way of working as follows:

With a serious and dignified mien, calmly, slowly, radi­ating tranquility he would draw near to the patients. At his proximity a gentle fit of trembling would spread through the assembly. He wore a lilac robe, thus calling up the image of a Zoroastrian or Indian magician.

Usually no great time elapsed before one or the other of the company would begin to tremble, then the limbs would twitch convulsively, and the patient would break out in perspiration, scream or groan. No sooner had such tokens manifested themselves in one member of the chain, than the others too, would feel the onset of the famous crisis which was to bring relief. Sonic would fall to the ground and go into convulsions, others would laugh shrilly, others would scream, and choke, and dance like dervishes, others would appear to faint or sink into a hypnotic sleep. According to Mesmer’s ‘theory of crisis’ the malady had to be provoked into its utmost marge of development, it had so to speak to be sweated out of the organism if the body was to retain healthy.

The importance of Mesmer to the history of coex is that, to the individuals who claim to have ‘discovered’ a new approach to human ills via abreaction, or say they have channeled a new cosmic force for the use of humanity, Mesmer stands as a direct contradiction. Three hundred years ago, despite his exotic dress and manlier, he ran in­dividual and group psychotherapy of a very successful nature. Although he thought of himself as a channel for a cosmic energy, he nevertheless recognised an agent other than technical psychiatric skill at work. Perhaps the ‘cosmic energy’ theory was not so far out either, as Reich revived it in new form in our own century. The work of Mesmer gradually moved into greater and greater complication -people dancing around trees for instance – instead of simplification and clarity. Out of it came Mesmerism which took the form of positive suggestion, completely leaving behind the aspect of allowing the organism to dis­charge its own tension and negativity. The spontaneous forces capable of self healing were ignored – even suppressed. The vainglorious power or forceful skill of the mesmerist or therapist took its place.

The approach started by Mesmer has never completely died out. While living in Russia in 1912 Sir Paul Dukes met Lev Lvovitch who used a self regulatory method to deal with a variety of illnesses. He would stroke patients limbs and induce shaking and trembling. In his book Unending Quest he describes the case of a boy whose legs were paralysed. “There was a broken exclamation from the boy in the middle of the room. ‘It’s b-b-beginning!’ The lad was quivering from head to foot so much that he had to hold oil to his chair.” After several treatments Dukes ob­served that the boy’s condition improved, and in a few weeks he was cured.

Only in very recent years has any serious scientific work been done in understanding what takes place in this healing which arises from within – with or without the help of an outside agent. Despite this research there is still virtually no socially established ways in which individuals are taught to trust their own internal processes. People in the West, and especially those trained in the helping professions, are forever committing the crime against human nature of ‘doing something’ to it, and seldom letting ‘It’ do some­thing to them. Nevertheless some individuals and groups have done a tremendous amount to make us aware of our lack, and point out ways of overcoming it. Freud does not leave us with any sense of there being a powerful and help­ful self-regulatory action in us. He gives no sense of finding a transformative power with which one can work toward spontaneous analysis and self help. But in Jung we find again and again very clear reference to what has been named in this book as coex.

Car/Jung Linking East and West

In Psychological Commentary On Time Tibetan Book’ f Time Great Liberation, Jung says:

If we snatch these things directly from the East, we have merely indulged our Western acquisitiveness, confirming yet again that ‘everything good is outside’ whence it has to be fetched and pumped into our barren souls. It seems to me we have really learned something from the East when we understand that the psyche contains riches enough without having to be primed from outside, and when we feel capable of evolving out of ourselves with or without divine grace. . . We must get at the Eastern values from within and not from without, seeking them in ourselves, in the unconscious. Because of these resis­tances we doubt the very thing that seems so obvious to the East, namely, the SELF LIBERATING POWER OF THE INTROVERTED MIND. This aspect of the mind is practically unknown to the West, though it forms the most important component of the unconscious.

• . . The whole process is called the ‘transcendent function’. It is a process arid a method at the same time. The production of unconscious compensation (self-regulation) is a spontaneous PROCESS; the conscious realisation is a METHOD.


In Jung we find something of the reverence for what is met within a human being – a reverence for life itself. A great deal of Jung’s attitudes and thoughts have already been quoted iii other chapters, enough to show that he did not use the self-regulatory process in such a cathartic way as Mesmer.

Aurobindo and Integral Yoga

During the early part of this century another great figure, in a field other than psychology, was exploring what resulted from consciousness opening to the self-regulating ‘evolutionary energy’. Writing and working from the dual standpoint of an Eastern yogi and Western thinker Aurobindo explains what he found in forty years of investigating the depths and heights of inner experience. In some approaches to coex such as Pentecostalism, there is an emphasis on the transcendental, the higher potential of human nature. In other approaches the emphasis is on tile cleansing or catharsis of past experience, pain and conditioning. Aurobindo finds a balance between these two which well suits the name of Integral Yoga which lie gave to his system. In the book The Adventure of Consciousness, Satprem describes Aurobindo’s statement of how the ‘evolutionary force’ acts on one who opens to it. “We feel around the head” he says, “and more particularly around the nape of the neck, an unusual pressure which may give the sensation of a false headache. At the beginning we can scarcely endure it for long and shake it off. Gradually this pressure takes a more distinct form and we feel a veritable current which descends – a current of force not like an unpleasant electric current but rather like a fluid mass.”

To allow this spontaneously active force to work in us, Aurobindo tells us we must be quiet and open our restless mind or consciousness. In Aurobindo’s own words, “When the Peace is established, this higher or Divine Force from above can descend and work in us. It descends usually first into the head and liberates inner mind centres, then into the heart centre, then into the navel and other vital centres, them into the sacral region and below. It works at the same time for perfection as well as liberation. It takes up the whole nature part by part and deals with it, rejecting what has to be rejected, sublimating what has to be sublimated, creating what has to be created. It integrates, harmonizes, establishes a new rhythm in the nature.

• . • The surest way toward this integral fulfillment is to find the Master of the Secret who dwells within us, open ourselves constantly to the Divine Power which is also the Divine Wisdom and Love, and trust it to effect the conversion. But it is difficult for the egoistic consciousness to do this at all at the beginning. And, if done at all, it is still difficult to do it perfectly and in every strand of our nature. It is difficult at first because of our egoistic habits of thought, of sensation, of feelings blocking up the avenues by which we arrive at the perception that is needed. It is difficult afterwards because the faith, the surrender, the courage requisite in this path are not easy to the ego clouded soul. The divine working is not the working the egoistic mind desires or approves, for it uses error to arrive at truth, suffering in order to arrive at perfection. The ego cannot see where it is being led; it revolts against the leading, loses confidence, loses courage. These failings would not matter; for the Divine Guide within is not offended by our revolt, riot discouraged by our want of faith or repelled by our weakness; it has the entire love of the mother and the entire patience of the teacher. But by withdrawing our assent from the guidance we lose the consciousness, though hot all the actuality of its benefit.”

Reich Cosmic Energy and the Death of Guru’s

Dr. Wilhelm Reich offers us a very different approach to this world of experience. In the 1920’s Reich gradually felt his way from an orthodox use of Freudian psycho-analysis to a more biological, physiological or energetic point of View. Not that he lost sight of the human soul, but he realised how much body, energy and personality are uni­fied. By working with body attitudes or postures he found he could help the patient melt tensions and emotional blocks. By relaxing muscular tensions, flows of energy, movement and feeling were unblocked. Perhaps more than any other clinical therapist or doctor of his time, he recognised that a spontaneous, self-regulating activity or energy was at work in all living organisms. He says of this energy, which he eventually called orgone:

Contrary to galvanic electricity – it would function on organic material which is a non-conductor for electri­city, and on animal tissues. Its function would not be restricted to isolated nerve cells or cell groups, but would permeate and govern the total organism. It would have to explain in a simple way, the pulsating basic function of the living , contraction and expansion, as it is expressed in respiration and orgasm. It would express itself in the production of heat, a characteristic of most living organisms. It would definitely explain the sexual function, i.e. it would make sexual attraction understandable. It would explain what has been added to the chemically complicated protein in order to make it alive. It would, finally, have to show us the mechanism of the symmetry of form development in general.

Gradually Reich developed very definite techniques, working with respiration, muscular tension and character attitudes. He particularly explored the place of sexuality individual, social and political structures. He helped people release their own self-regulatory process and work with it toward health and wholeness. As people learnt this they experienced spontaneous movement, trembling, changed feeling states and emotional and sexual release. The actual results, as compared with those already mentioned in this short history, were no different to those in Shaktipat or in Mesmer’s work. Nevertheless Reich brought a new open­ness, a new technical understanding to the subject with his genius. Unlike Mesmer he did not rest until he had pin­pointed clearly what released self-regulatory action into conscious operation. He did not stop, as Mesmer and the gurus did, in believing himself and certain other special men and women were the channels of a cosmic energy which healed. Reich made the tremendous step, while yet remaining a scientist and clinical therapist, of seeing an integral law of human nature at work, and active in indi­viduals quite apart from his personal influence. In this Reich helped people in the present to begin a link with their spontaneous energies which earlier peoples had known only in a religious context. The deeply religious, surrendered attitudes so prevalent in the past are seldom found today in the West. Certainly not in the way demon­strated by the original Christians who surrendered body and mind to a force they trusted. Looked at in this way, even the Godly in the West are frightened of God’s power. Jung makes the statement that people in the West cannot find God because none of us can bow low enough. Philip Zimbardo and Carol Laderman are more typical of the fear we have as Westerners of the unconscious. We see in it possible madness, loss of self, and possession by unnamed urges and forces. Being unable to form the trust out of our religious convictions, Reich enabled people to meet this vital part of themselves from a different more acceptable starting point. The new standpoint is that which includes our critical and analytical intellect. To deny it in an attempt to emulate the East in approaching their inner life uncriti­cally, would be to do ourselves a great disservice. Reich proved that as Westerners we can still touch our deep spontaneous energies while retaining our new-found intellect.

God’s Chosen People The Way of Subud

Considering Reich’s work it is interesting now to look at the influence of Muhammed Subuh. He was born and lived in Indonesia, working as an accountant for many years. His main interest in life was to seek out some of the many gurus in his country, and attempt a deeper aware­ness of life’s mysteries and the nature of God. In his late twenties, in the year 1925, he experienced a vision while out walking. It seemed to him that a ball of light or fire rushed across the sky and descended on his head. He began to shake and tremble, and felt a powerful and divine energy had begun to work in his being. On reaching home he opened himself to the influence of this power and found spontaneous movements and experiences occurred. From that time onwards he frequently ‘opened’ himself to what he felt to come from God, and found that each time move­ments, sounds, and a wide variety of inner experience arose. He observed that the movements and experiences were ways in which his being was gradually cleansed and made whole. It was as if some influence were gradually guiding him through experiences in a direction he could not preconceive, but IT could. Also, his physical health improved, his experiences educated him regarding his and other peoples life on Earth, and he found his intuitive faculties enormously enlarged. Often he could also be instrumental in helping other people to experience healing. The film star Eva Bartok told her story in the newspapers at the time of her own healing in connection with Pak Subuh and her baby.

By 1932 Pak Subuh had discovered that other people who relaxed in his presence could also receive the same experience and be led through cleansing and integration. Groups of people in Indonesia began to practice this ‘opening’ to what they felt to be the grace of God working in their lives. The manner of these group experiences is like that described under Shaktipat. People found their bodies making spontaneous movements; they experienced themselves in a wide variety of ways, were led through catharsis and great inspirational insights. Like the Pente­costal approach, there was a tendency toward remaining on the symbolic level, and editing all but the transcendental.

The experience of being moved from within was called ‘Latihan’, which in Indonesian means to be moved, cleansed and disciplined by the power of God. But until 1957 comparatively few people were in these groups doing latihan. Those who were had mostly been using latihan several times a week for many years. Sometimes the length of practice was ten or fifteen years. These practi­tioners had found that their nature and body had been gradually changed by the practice. Their awareness and sympathies had widened. Problems had shifted, and in general they felt more in touch with the force or meaning behind their existence. At this point a European working in Indonesia – Rofe – asked to be introduced to the lati­han. Rofe taught it to people in England who started an international centre at Coombe Springs. From there the practice went world-wide, and at one time the followers numbers were claimed to be 200,000. People of all nation­alities, religious belief, political views and social status found they could experience the latihan. The lives of many were deeply changed by it.

If we are to understand how modern men and women relate to coex there are things we must be aware of in re­gard to the latihan, and the organisation named Subud. J.P. Barter, for instance, writing about his involvement in the latihan says, “We do not know for any certainty why the force which is received in Subud has been made uni­quely available to mankind today rather than at some earlier period in history.” The statement is typical of the sort of historical blindness and spiritual pomposity that is common in the practice. Pak Subuh states that the experi­ence is unique to him and new in the world. When I myself started a coex group many years ago, based on Reichian work and Mesmer’s groups, a spy was sent from a Subud group in a nearby town to find out where or how I had stolen their latihan. That people like J.G. Bennet, a well educated man, and Barter, bright enough to write an orderly account of Subud, can accept such statements is a warning that the Western mind, in attempting to re­establish connection with the deeper layers of the psyche, can often revert to primitive attitudes, ignoring or discarding information and lessons learnt through hard experi­ence.

Burying Old Dogmas

Another dogma in Subud, which links the organisation with the ancient guru tradition, is that no one can experience latihan without it being passed to them by someone who had received it via Pak Subuh and Subud members. It is, therefore, implied that this is not a natural occurrence, or a part of everyone’s inner equipment, but is a special dispensation, a sort of occult power given just to Pak Subuh and members of Subud by God. The hard lessons I mentioned above are how deadly such attitudes have proved themselves to be in the past. How many millions died because sects fought each other over who had the REAL access to God and the truth? Placing the latihan in the realm of the occult and sectarian as this does, is a factor which kills its general applicability.

This reversion on the part of Westerners when meeting the unconscious is illustrated by two examples. Michael Manger visited Swami Muktananda – a Shaktipat guru – at Ganeshpuri, N.E. of Bombay. He says, “I am not sure exactly when or how I received Shaktipat as there was no formal external initiation, but it manifested itself in three ways. First an intense, wonderful and surprising tranquility of mind and body whilst sitting in the house where Babaji – the guru – was staying. Secondly, an increase in emotional and physical excitement by being in Babaji’s presence and hearing him lecture. I had a pain at the base of my spine, flushed cheeks and bright eyes, despite my dis­agreement with the burden of Babaji’s lecture – the need for a guru. Thirdly, and most important, I awoke in the middle of the night doing spontaneous breathing exer­cises, followed by a series of dynamic yoga postures, some known and some unknown to me. Then there were twenty minutes in which a beautiful voice emanated from my throat singing in Sanscrit – it came in verse which I wrote down and showed to Babaji the next morning.

These external happenings had two very significant in­ternal accompaniments. Firstly an intense fire of love and light in my heart, indescribably stronger than any­thing I had felt previously; and secondly, direct intuitive knowledge that all this came from Babaji. It came also to a man with a communist atheist up-bringing, with but little experience of yoga or meditation and a very active belief in self help rather than guru help.

The second man, William Groom, does not make it plain whether he had planned to visit Jogeshwari to meet the guru of whether it was by chance. He says that

before long a very old man appeared, and Tamhane, one of my companions presented me to him. He was Sivrao Nileshwar a Bhakti yogi who lived at Jogeshwari, about 73 years of age and dignified in his approach. He stood in front of me with arms outstretched and took hold of my hands, the effect on me was instantan­eous and electrifying. My head spun, my senses reeled, and almost immediately I became oblivious of my surroundings. Sivrao was in a deep trance from the moment he took my hands. From his throat emanated choking sounds as though he were unable to speak, whilst at the same time I could feel this powerful force flowing through his hands. This mystical experience was to become the foundation of many others which still continue with me wherever I go. I had received from the Holy Man a force or power which devotees told me is called Pare Sattva, a gift from God which they said would be with me for the rest of my life.

As can be seen from these descriptions it does riot occur to these men that their experience was in any way a product of their own unconscious, despite the fact that Michael’s first arose from a sleep state. The ‘guru’ in these cases is certainly a catalyst, helping the person to accept and trust, even believe in an inner spontaneous process. Michael’s statement about his background of rational communism is almost humorous, as if communists or people with a scientific rational mind do not have an unconscious and dream life, or religious feelings. Dr. Heyer, in Organism of the Mind, tells of a young scientist who went for psycho-analysis because of great personal tension. As soon as he lay on the couch he burst forth in singing a hymn. By not accepting his ‘irrational’ nature with its religious feelings he had experienced conflict. This was resolved by allowing such feelings to be expressed.

Dianetics Co-counseling and Accessible Coex

In the 50’s Ron Hubbard published a book about his work called Dianetics. It was revolutionary in its claims of self- help psychotherapy, because until then such healing had been firmly in the hands of specialists or cults such as Subud – both being jealous of their field and requiring either high fees or membership. In a readily under­standable book Hubbard described how people could help themselves. The book gave details about re-experiencing childhood trauma, of remembering life in the womb, of full memory, and how childhood pain causes the person to function inefficiently. Unfortunately his work led to the formation of The Church of Scientology, which has signs of being another cult.

One of the offshoots of Dianetics, even though it fails to claim itself as such, is Re-Evaluation Counseling or Co-Counseling, which unlike Scientology, makes itself available to the public easily and at little or no cost. Also it clearly works with the process of self-regulation. In 1964 Harvey Jackins published a pamphlet called The Postulates of Re-Evaluation Counseling. In summary these postulates say that

•  . . the essence of rational human behaviour consists of responding to each instant of living with a new response, created afresh at that moment to precisely fit and handle the situation of that moment as that situation is defined by the information received through the senses of the person. . . Each human with a physically undamaged brain has a large inherent capacity for this kind of behaviour. . .The natural emotional tone of a human being is zestful enjoyment of life. The natural relationship between any two human beings is loving affection, communication and cooperation. The special human capacity for rational response is interrupted by an experience of physical or emotional distress. Infor­mation input through the senses then stores as an unevaluated and rigid accumulation, exhibiting the characteristics of a very complete, literal recording of all aspects of the incident.

Immediately after the distress experience is concluded or at the first opportunity thereafter, the distressed human spontaneously seeks to claim the attention of another human. If they are successful in claiming this aware attention of the other person, a process of what has been called ‘discharge’ ensues.

Discharge is signaled externally by one or more of a precise set of physical processes. These are: crying or sobbing (with tears), trembling with cold perspiration, laughter, angry shouting and vigorous movement with warm perspiration, live interested talking; and in a slightly different way, yawning, often with scratching or stretching. Discharge requires considerable time for completion.

In actual practise two people contract to work together. One listens while the other talks over areas of pain or deep feeling and enters into discharge. They then swap roles. It is a very simple and effective technique. As such it cuts out all the negative aspects attendant on gurus and cults, while remaining highly effective and much more available.

The work of Dr. Caron Kent, as summarised by his book The Puzzled Body, while not as influential as some of the approaches mentioned, is nevertheless important. He began to explore coex because of his own need by giving himself regular time at a typewriter and writing sponta­neously whatever came to mind. In this way he found he began to contact areas of experience and feeling previously unavailable. He developed this in his practice as a psycho­therapist into working with the body and feelings directly. He writes of his work as dealing with the self-regulatory forces, and deplores physicians and therapists who are blind to their importance. One of the interesting aspects of his work is that he took careful measurements of his patients and found that as they were able to allow their being to release its own self-regulatory process, their bodies achieved their growth potential. In adults head size changed radically, as with feet, chest, etc. Kent concluded that painful or non integrated experience interfered with the growth processes in body and personality. When such experiences were released and integrated, the growth processes were released to complete their work.

Ronnie Laing Daring to Care

Someone who has had a very widespread and revolution­ary influence on psychiatric and non-clinical therapy is R.D. Laing. His book Time Politics of Experience, published in 1967, sums up his view of how the sane and the so-called insane can be helped by forming a supportive envi­ronment in which self-regulation can take place. He says in the book:

No age in the history of humanity has perhaps so host touch with this natural ‘healing’ process, that implicates some of the people whom we label schizophrenic. No age has so developed it, no age had imposed such prohibitions and deterrences against it, as our own. Instead of the mental hospital, which is a sort of re-servicing factory for human breakdowns, we need a place where people who have traveled further and, consequently, may be more lost than psychiatrists and other sane people, can find their way ‘further’ into inner space and time, and back again. Instead of the ‘degradation’ ceremonial of psychiatric examination, diagnosis and prognostication, we need, for those who are ready for it, an initiation ceremonial, through which the person will be guided with full social encouragement and sanction, into inner space and time, by people who have been there and back again. Psychiatrically this would appear as ex-patients helping future patients to go mad.

What is entailed then is:

i A voyage from outer to inner,

ii  from life to a kind of death,

iii    from going forward to going back,

iv    from temporal movement to temporal standstill,

from mundane time to aeonic time,

vi    from the ego to the self,

vii   from being outside (post birth) back into the womb of all things (pre birth).

And then subsequently a return voyage from:

1 Inner to outer,

2 from death to life,

3 from the movement back to a movement forward,

4 from immortality back to mortality,

5 from eternity back to time,

6 from self to a new ego,

7 from a cosmic foetalisation to an existential rebirth.

This process may be one that all of us need, in one form or another. The process could have a central function in a truly sane society.

The Japanese Have Seitai

While teaching coex in Japan I was introduced to another Oriental approach to self-regulation which is widely used in that country. It is called Seitai and was taught in its present form by Haruchika Noguchi. In Japan Seitai is thought of as a way of keeping healthy, but it has a particular quality about it which comes out in Noguchi’s teachings. He constantly stressed that you cannot under­stand what a human being is by dissecting one, or by trying to understand the function of separate organs such as the liver or brain.

For instance, he said that,

One person may find his appetite increases when he is in love, another may find that his heart rather than his stomach responds. Similarly, the same stressful situation may result in rheumatism in one person and dia­betes in another. What causes these differences? Sonic individuals are so tough they are calm even with a million pound debt, while others become ill over obli­gations of only ten pounds. The physical tendencies of each person are different, and unless one takes ones stand on this fact the health problems of different people cannot be grasped.

Seitai’s starting point is from a completely different con­cept of health to that of a keep-fit class. In keep-fit, and in just about every form of exercise from yoga to weight training, there are certain movements or postures which are said to exercise particular muscles, or to be ‘good’ for the thighs, abdomen, etc. These are then applied or prac­tised from outside, as it were. Seitai has the concept that our life process knows what sort, and how much exercise we need, and the exercise arises from within. In other

words it is stimulated by our unconscious sense of our own needs, just as a sneeze is.

Let me quote Noguchi again to explain this. He says,

In my teens I started to guide people to health by means of what we now call Seitai Soho and Katsugen Undo, though at that time I had no knowledge of medicine or of the body’s anatomical structure. I did not know anything about the kind of food we should eat, yet I was able to lead people to health.

What was the basis for the guidance? It was that I asked myself why human beings stayed alive and what should be done to activate their strength to live. . . We find various excuses for suppressing ourselves and, wit­hout realising we are putting our innate powers for health asleep, we convince ourselves that we are weak and blame it on our surroundings, the food we eat or the hours we sleep, unaware that the real responsibility lies with us.

So Seitai creates a situation in which we listen and allow response. Noguchi taught that the spontaneous move­ments which arise as the response are the same as those occurring during sleep. Seitai considers whether our vitality and enthusiasm for life is active or withdrawn. If withdrawn, then it is encouraged to express itself again. Because a great deal of the suppressive factors in us are mental and emotional, Seitai encourages a strong and healthy confidence in ones ability to survive. If we fear we will become ill if a night’s sleep is missed, the anxiety creates tension which suppresses the defence systems of the body. If illness then occurred, would it mean one was naturally sickly?

Put in another way, we are learning to allow the body’s own natural mechanisms, such as the eyes watering if dust enters them, and other such more subtle reactions, to function more vitally. Noguchi stresses that it is not the movements of Seitai which heal us. The symptoms of illness are the body’s own attempts to heal itself, and Seitai helps us work with that process. To do the movements mechanically as if they were the thing which healed, is to miss the point and would be a return to keep-fit. But once

you have learnt to allow your body to heal itself more vigorously, you do not need to practise it any more.

Coming right up to the present, Rolfing, Primal Therapy, EST, Re-Birthing, Bioenergetics, all offer their particular genius to a culture convulsing with activity to become whole. Unfortunately most of these approaches offer their help through highly paid experts to those who feel in need of paying for it. The Expert/Patient relation­ship is something which is badly in need of renovation. As Laing suggests, what we need is not more experts and organisations, but something seen as a central function in a sane society. We need courage and faith in our own ability to move toward wholeness – and companions who will be with us while we experience the Journey.

The Work of Herman Weiner

One of the problems with the development of self determinism in therapy is the changed social and financial situation of the therapists themselves. In an article called ‘Working With Groups’ Herman Weiner says:

As a psychoanalytically trained therapist, I conducted analytically oriented groups for several years during the sixties and I duly had my share of ‘success’. Try as I might to be open and free-feeling, I would end up at sonic point in the group process somewhat more guarded. I also observed that this pulling back was periodically reached by my patients. . . It became dif­ficult to feel less neurotic than my patients seemed to be. A very humbling experience! I ultimately decided to give up groups and to work on a one-to-one basis.

Returning to group work later he organised a different group dynamics, which he describes as the

patients enter a semi-darkened well padded, sound dampened set of adjoining rooms. . . They already know what to do for themselves from an initial series of individual preparatory sessions. They are beginning to know that courage to let themselves sense, move, fantasise and feel without restraint, is both liberating and healing. In the initial sessions they have been encouraged to surrender themselves to themselves in this manner. Now, in the semi-darkness, I move from one mat to another giving support, courage, and contact where necessary, so as to facilitate their descent into themselves.

Without the historical background to Herman Weiner’s work, we would not realise that he is doing nothing new. 1mm fact he is still attempting to play the central role for his ‘patients’. Even Subud gives more autonomy, and Co-Counseling exhibits the deep trust of help in healing to whoever can give ‘aware attention’.

Love is the Key to Changing Lives

While Janov’s work has reminded the world of the need to discharge pain and anger, from our consideration of coex it does riot have a great deal to say. With Bioenergetics also, though Lowen’s writings are full of self-regulatory principles, based as they are on Reich’s work, it is still a therapist/patient oriented technique.

Something which enters more deeply into general social applicability is the work being done by Jacques Schiff in U.S.A. A person of obviously great love and wisdom, she and her husband adopted several teenage ‘children’ and allowed them full opportunity to self-regulate right in their home. These children were often the apparently hopeless cases from mental hospitals, and were allowed to regress to being in nappies again, bottle feeding, and to work through their stages of growth in a healthier way than had originally occurred. As she shows clearly in her book – All My Children – the self-regulatory release these young adults had was only half what was needed in their healing. The other half, as Jackins points out, comes through consciously re-evaluating the experience released in coex.

Once she had brought several of her ‘children’ through to health, although she and her husband are psychiatrists, she encouraged other families to use the same methods. Some of the ‘children’ now adult, have set up their own fostering family setting. These new family groups are likewise raising healthy children out of sick adults.

LSD and the ‘Heavy’ Drug Scene

Because of the struggle our culture is having with drug abuse, it is necessary here to point out that a few of the ‘drugs’, notably psilocybin, LSD and Cannabis, all release self-regulatory experience. However, if the person does not integrate what is released by the drug, marked disorientation occurs. What have been called ‘flash backs’ are exactly the same as what is described by William Groom after meeting his guru – “still continue with me wherever I go.” In his case he wanted these inner eruptions of experience. If a person were frightened of the uncon­scious, as Philip Zimbardo describes, the ‘flash backs’ can be very disturbing.

Some of the most effective work with the principle of coex was done with LSD prior to its banishment. A number of psychiatrists were registered to work with it. To understand this positive side to these drugs, it is useful to read such books as Myself and I by Constance Newland; and LSD Psychotherapy by W.V. Caldwell. When com­pared with the literature on ‘tripping’, the tremendous difference can be seen between playing with and working with, the inner process of coex.


In the widest sense self-regulation is an integral part of all human experience. It is particularly noticeable historically in the religions of humanity. The ball of fire Pak Subuh mentions has been described by many other religious leaders. It appeared to the disciples at Pentecost. When we realise that the dream process in the coex experience pro­duces just such waking subjective impressions, it becomes obvious that a similar and universal psychobiological process underlies such human activities.

In different ages humans have met with, used and directed the self-regulatory process in different ways. We have given the experience of consciously working with such processes the name coex, and in the past it has been given many names and many explanations. The physical and subjective experiences which occur in coex, because of their connection with the dream process, frequently produce a sense of touching the divine. This is the way our internal interpretative process, expresses contact between our conscious personality and the universal life forces which give rise to it. Unfortunately, groups gathered around leaders who give their experience of coex different names such as Christianity, Buddhism, Subud and Mes­merism, frequently argue for their own uniqueness. In most cases however, as with Christianity, the original direct experience is quickly suppressed.

The historical perspective shows us not only how people lay claim to ownership of a natural principle, but also how they have a tendency to limit it to their own hori­zons and belief systems. Even Reich was guilty of claiming himself as the first man in history to use the process. But few have, indeed, dared to spell out its political and social implications as clearly as he. The released inner response of our being is revolutionary in nature. This is probably why established traditions of religion, medicine and politics often suppress any signs of its appearance. There is a lesson to be learned from Mesmer’s clash with his fellow phy­sicians. As hundreds received relief from pain, thousands more came. This led Mesmer to ‘magnetise’ anything that was handy, such as a tree, so people would be free of his counseling rooms. His popularity and excess led the French Academy of Science to set up a commission to examine Mesmer’s claims. They concluded that “Nothing proves the existence of magnetic animal fluid: imagination without magnetism may produce conversions: magnetism without imagination produces nothing.” While that may be true, Mesmer was discredited, and none of his critics managed to mobilise peoples ‘imagination’ sufficiently to cure the ills of the public in his place. . . Reich died in a prison cell.

Copyright © 1999-2010 Tony Crisp | All rights reserved