The Miracle of Mind Dynamics

More about Dr. Joseph Murphy

The Miracle of Mind Dynamics

A New Way to Triumphant Living, New York: Penguin Putnam, 1964.

Review

I found Dr. Murphy’s books in a time of great personal turmoil, in a condition that was a karmic backlash of actions that were the result of confusion and lack of insight in the workings of life, and its creative energy.

It was a time of change, and I was passing through a major period of transformation that was putting my life on a different foundation, one I would call spiritual without giving a fancy meaning to that term.

I am using the term spiritual not in the sense to signify something special, as all in life is one, but simply in the sense of conscious. And in fact, at that time in my life, I was simply putting words on things, rendering conscious my emotional and sexual wishes and my longings for partnership, instead of complaining about my loneliness.

I was learning to see and emphasize the beauty of longing itself, its streaming, its creative flow, its visionary quality. My psychiatrist, helped me greatly on this new path of consciousness. And he fully endorsed and embraced my wish to include Murphy’s prayer technique in our therapy.

And not enough, I also took up work with recovering and healing my inner child, and developed a method I later called Life Authoring. Now, what I wish to convey here is that when you do those things, it’s not enough to do them for a certain time and then forget about them again. I had done exactly that. At that time my body weight was ideal, my health was good, I was a vegetarian, had clear dreams and received daily guidance through them, had many friends, and there was no alcohol problem.

Now listen how the story continues. After five years of such spiritual life, I left the retreat and entered business. The first one was a failure, the second one was successful. I began to grow into a kind of social life, was developing a successful career as a coach and corporate trainer—and was gradually abandoning most of the work techniques.

A decisive turn was the death of my mother six years after I had left the retreat situation. I inherited our family fortune, which meant on one hand a lot of trouble, on the other however a decent amount of money.

I still continued creative writing, spontaneous dance and spontaneous composing. But again six years ahead of that point, I also abandoned creative writing and composing, and was beginning to edit and publish my writings, music and art. That meant coping with a lot of technical and design matters, and it was a completely stationary kind of life.

I became an alcoholic with an enormous daily beer and wine consumption, and gained thirty kilograms on top of my ideal body weight. When some health problems began to manifest, I woke up from my slumber and questioned myself why I had become a meat-eater again, why I had begun to smoke again, why I had become an alcoholic, why I had become restless and short-breathed, why I had abandoned meditation and my daily fitness program, and why I was so much focused on achieving public fame, instead of simply continuing to create?

And I found that indeed I had been craving for social success, fame and recognition—at the price of my health and wellbeing. Then, and only then, I took up Creative Prayer again and read others of Murphy’s books. After a few months it was easy to drop smoking, and put my regime back to a pure vegetarian diet, and I was able to restrict wine and beer consumption to occasional glasses that accompanied a meal.

Why had it been so easy to get back to normal? I think there are two reasons. The first reason is that I had embraced that condition earlier on in my life, so the pattern was already familiar to me, as a matter of morphological resonance.

Second, I knew from my earlier studies on prayer that it’s all about belief and accepting or not accepting certain conditions. First of all, I had learnt to say a decisive No to conditions I found are damaging my health and wellbeing, or conditions that put me in danger and thus invoke constant fear. So I said No to being fat, immobile and short-breathed, and I said No to bringing danger to my life and my brain through alcoholism. What happened next? I remembered the following.

The law of life is the law of belief. Whatever you mentally accept and feel to be true will come to pass./33

Man is what he thinks all day long, and his character is the totality of his thinking. In order to experience good luck or good fortune, realize that you are the maker and shaper of your conditions, experiences, and events./34

So I asked what I had been thinking, predominantly, all through these years? I had been thinking virtually every day that I was not a published author, that all my writings were just manuscripts, that I had got but refusals from publishers and that I wanted to be published. Working on publishing my writings, music, art and photography, I was repeating these thoughts in my mind, on a daily basis.

Dr. Murphy illustrates in the following anecdote from this book that the law of belief is a universal law, not a fancy or a theory, and that it has nothing to do with morality either. Thus, contrary to many religions, good-and-bad categories do nothing here, because profiting from a law does not depend on ‘goodness,’ but on the simple fact to obey the law.

Why the So-Called Good Suffer
I received a letter some time ago from a woman asking me, ‘Why is it that some men who are honest and good suffer so much, and the wicked men prosper like the green bay tree?’ I don’t know exactly what she meant by ‘good’; perhaps she meant from a superficial standpoint that these men went to church, were honest in business transactions, kind to neighbors, gave to charity, were good to their wives and families, and practiced the rituals and rites of their churches. Maybe she meant by ‘wicked men’ those who are irreligious, who have no church affiliations, who cheat and steal, who get drunk, and who deny God or any Superior Power. If so, her thinking is very shallow.
The so-called wicked man may believe in success, prosperity, and good health, and it is done to him as he believes. The Law is no respecter of persons. The sun shines on the just and the unjust, and Law has no morals. If a murderer can swim, the water will sustain him as well as a holy man. A cutthroat can breathe the air just as well as a spiritually illumined person. The so-called honest and good man may secretly harbor obnoxious, vicious, hateful thoughts, and he will bring upon himself the sufferings which his secret, destructive thinking produces. You do not see others’ secret fears, peeves, grudges, hates, and jealousies, but looking outwardly you are prone to judge by external appearances.
It is not what a man does externally for show and reward of men that matters. It is the inner movement of his heart that counts. It is what he thinks, feels, and believes deep down in his heart that matters, not what he professes to believe. Thus a man may observe all the tenets, rules, and regulations of his church; he may attend the ceremonies and rituals, give candy to children and dimes to the blind; and he may visit the sick—all of which may be considered ‘good’ from an external standpoint, but not from the standpoint of God and His law, which is ‘As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.’/35-36

What was it that I had believed? I believed that I had to work hard, so hard that I was actually ten hours behind two huge computer monitors every day, while I was not making a cent from all the work I did. I did it for expressing myself, in the belief if I was only working hard enough success would come by itself. Nope, it didn’t.

After ten years of unwavering efforts I had a range of brilliant web sites that went for the most part unnoticed, and nobody cared about my design, and the content of my many e-books. Then I found this.

Hard Work Is Not the Answer to Wealth and Success
A man may work very hard 14 or 16 hours a day, but if he fears that he will fail or if he has a guilt complex and feels that he should be punished, it will be done unto him as he believes. The law of life is the law of belief. A man may be completely dishonest in certain directions from a worldly standpoint and actually deny the Presence of God; yet there is no law which says that he can’t acquire wealth, provided he believes that he will be a success and that he will be wealthy. Then, according to his belief, is it done unto him. The dishonest man or the wicked man garners his own sufferings and the results of his thinking are the same as those of the honest and so-called good man. The Great Law is absolutely just and cannot give good for evil, or evil for good. All evil ultimately destroys itself./36

Over the next decade or so, I was in what seemed a negative growth cycle in that I lost money instead of making it, through a lack of business knowledge, on one hand, and through suffering betrayal and robbery, on the other.

As a result, I had built strong resentment which triggered negative self-talk and resentful feelings toward the world and others.

I lost many friends during that time. And I thought why me, and why is that possible at all? And I found this.

Don’t Worry About Evildoers
The mills of the gods grind slowly, but they grind / exceedingly fine. ‘Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, I will repay’ Remember that your subconscious mind, which in the Bible is called the ‘Law,’ is like a recording, which reproduces whatever you have impressed upon it. This is why you are told not to fret about evildoers or the workers of iniquity; their own subconscious mind reacts negatively or positively according to the use they are making of it. The point is this: Use your own mind constructively and harmoniously, and don’t bother about the other fellow—just wish him well. /36-37

The next point in the list that may be entitled ‘The Etiology of Failure’ was my constant procrastination in front of change. I had felt that I needed a change, also physically, thus kept my vision:

Your vision is a definite promise of what you one day shall be; your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil. (…) You will always gravitate to that which you secretly most love. You will meet in life the exact reproduction of your own thoughts. There is no chance, coincidence, or accident in a world ruled by law and Divine Order./37

Finally I found out that I did not need to be a vegetarian in order to be healthy and strong. I eventually found that my nutrition was not the culprit behind my depressions, but the way I was thinking about it all, and about the whole of my life:

He Blamed Heredity and Diet
I had a chat with a man a few months ago who had been taking sedation, rest cures, and observing a special diet for colitis, from which he had suffered for several years. He was deceiving himself by blaming heredity and diet as the cause. He said, ‘Colitis runs in my family; my mother and grandmother had it, also, and I’m sure the food I eat has something to do with my trouble. I pointed out to this man that the late Dr. Flanders Dunbar, an authority on psychosomatic medicine, said that a study of a number of colitis cases in a New York hospital showed that the men were tied to their mothers and had never been away from their mothers for more than 30 days in their whole lives. None of these men were married, and the onset of their colitis was associated with the conflict between the mother-tie and desire for marriage.
This man had a similar conflict plus a deep-seated resentment of his mother, who seemed to criticize and find fault with every girl he brought to their house as a prospective bride. I found that he was deeply in love with a spiritually minded young woman, but hesitated to marry lest he offend and disturb his mother.
His eventual solution was simple: He came to a decision to marry, and he bought a home for his bride. He broke the umbilical cord once and for all. He radiated love and good will to his mother and wished for her all the blessings of Heaven, but he informed her that his wife now came first in his life. His ulcerated colitis cleared up miraculously in a few weeks. He had been deceiving himself for several years, failing to see that the cause of his sickness was purely emotional and was due to the poison pocket of resentment in the crevasses of his soul. This man did not deliberately give himself colitis; his trouble came from the accumulation of his negative and destructive thinking.
Because the subconscious is a law, it arranges all the deposited thoughts into a complex pattern, and these constantly fed subconscious patterns are not only the cause of all ills, but also the cause of our successes and triumphant achievements./45-46

Fortunately I never believed in ‘heavenly’ punishment, as the woman in the following quote from this book.

I knew that the cause of my ailments was too much ‘immobility’ in my thoughts and action, too much of a stationary spirit and attitude, and not enough moving and flowing with life—thus to put it in a word: resistance. I had resisted the welcome change by putting pressure upon myself, and by stressing achievement over creation, instead of just creating more, with a carefree and joyful attitude.

Why Doesn’t God Heal Her?
While talking to a woman recently, I learned her mother had a serious illness, and that as she was a splendid Christian, kindhearted, religious, and most generous, why didn’t God do something for her? Such a question illustrates perfectly the great deception that affects many people. The Law of Life is the law of belief, and we demonstrate what we believe. Whatsoever we sow in our subconscious mind, we shall reap. If we sow thoughts of sickness, fear, resentment, and enmity, we shall reap these things. To ‘sow a thought’, Biblically speaking, means to accept it wholeheartedly; it is our deep-seated beliefs that we demonstrate.
This girl and her mother were completely deceived, in that both of them believed that sickness is independent of the mind and has nothing to do with the thinking process. Her mother had a bad heart condition and believed that she could not be cured. That was her real belief, and so, naturally, she could not get a healing.
There are no incurable diseases – there are only incurable people; i.e., there are those who believe that they cannot be healed, and according to their belief it is done unto them.
Her mother is now making excellent progress. She is no longer under the spell of the great deception that her heart is a material object with laws of its own, independent of her thinking. She now believes that her body is subject to her thoughts and feelings, and as she changes her mind, so she will change her body. She is praying regularly, knowing that the Infinite Healing Process is flowing through her as the beauty of wholeness, vitality, and strength, and that God’s love dwells in her mind and body.
She is beginning to realize that sickness has no power beyond what she gives it in thought, and she will find herself healed. When trouble of any kind comes, look upon it as nature’s signal that you are thinking wrongly in that direction; then change your thought and keep it changed./47

Finally, I self-published my books, and three years later made a summary, practicing an exercise I had found in a book. In this exercise, you vividly imagine to be on your death bed and look back at your life. Then, you find out what it is that you would want to have done differently.

Doing this exercise, I realized that I had sold very little, and the income generated as royalties from the books was so low that it would barely pay a single meal per month. But instead of throwing myself again into depression and despair, I had developed a new attitude, and I had developed it because of the prayers and that amazing exercise.

As a result, I unpublished all of the books and changed my basic attitude behind publishing. Once of a sudden, I became aware that the basic intention behind my efforts was one of being recognized as a ‘published author,’ as some sort of personal glory.

I then realized that this was not what my soul wanted. Imagining myself to be on my death bed and looking back at my life in retrospection, the result was dumbfounding me. I realized that what I really wanted was to share my knowledge, even for free, and without any credit for myself. This new insight virtually poured streams of happiness into me that I had never known in my life before. I expressed to the universe my gratitude to have had this fundamental insight not on my death bed but when I had still time enough to change course and start all over again. I became acutely aware that my selfish beliefs and attitude were behind my failure in publishing my creations.

All our beliefs and tendencies with which we were born are still with us, and they have power to manifest in and influence our lives. For example, if you believe that sitting near a fan will give you a stiff neck, your subconscious mind will see to it that you get a stiff neck—not because of the fan which represents innocuous molecules of energy oscillating at a high frequency, but because of your erroneous belief. If you are afraid that you will catch a cold because someone sneezes, your fear is a movement of your own mind which creates what you expect, fear, and believe. If you happen to be in a warm room and then go out into the cool atmosphere, nature may cause you to sneeze. This is nature’s way of bringing about a balance and equilibrium in the body— the sneeze is a blessing. Many, however, fear that they are now catching a cold, not knowing it is the creative power of their own thought that causes the cold./48

My retrospection showed me that death is not an end to anything that is based upon our genuine creativeness, and that life is given to us as a free gift we should use not only for our own glory, but for sharing our gifts and talents with others in a natural, carefree and joyful manner.

As uncanny as it sounds, death had taught me how to live, and how to live happily and with a feeling of being blessed:

It is impossible that anything so universal as death should ever be looked upon as evil. It must be good or it would not be./64

Quotes/Excerpts

—Dr. Joseph Murphy, The Miracle of Mind Dynamics: A New Way to Triumphant Living, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1964, pp. 57-61.

How to Overcome Waves of Doubt and Anxiety

Our Bible states that there arose a great tempest in the sea. Each man is a ship traveling on the ocean of life. All of us are immersed in the great universal sea of consciousness. All of us are traveling psychologically and spiritually to certain goals, objectives, and achievements. Sometimes the ship becomes covered with waves; this represents the race belief in failure, lack, and limitation. The storms of doubt, anxiety, and depression haunt us at times The disciples said: ‘… Lord, save us: we perish.’ The disciples represent your faculties of mind, your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, plus mental attitudes and expectancy in general. You must train your faculties of mind to look inwardly and to have faith in all things good, a joyous expectancy of the best, and to have a firm belief inscribed in your heart that Infinite Intelligence will lead you out of your difficulty and show you the way. Have a firm conviction in the Power of God to solve problems and show you the way. This faith in God will enable you to walk over the waters of fear, doubt, worry, and imaginary dangers of all kinds.

There is Always a Way Out

When you say, ‘There is no way out. I have no chance,’ you are looking at the winds of confusion, fear, and human opinion, but when you remember the Lord, which is the Spiritual Power within you, absolutely All-Wise and All-Knowing, you will be looking at the solution, the way out, the happy ending, thereby ignoring the winds of human intellect and the waves of despair, melancholia, and depression.

The Meaning of Faith

Man is asleep to the God Power and the God Wisdom locked in his own unconscious depths; this is why in Matthew 8:24 it says, ‘he was asleep.’ The man of faith awakens and stirs up the gift of God within him. He knows this is the Kingdom of the Real. He knows that his ideal or desire is real in the Inner Kingdom, and that his faith or feeling will cause the formless, or the invisible Presence, to take on substance as a condition, event, or experience. This is why the man of faith walks upon the waters of doubt and fear and moves in confidence and understanding of the promised land—his cherished goal. Faith is accepting as true that which your reason and intellect deny.

Why Your Thoughts Are Things

Man must awaken to the fact that science and religion are two arcs of a circle which unite to form a complete whole. He must leave the old-fashioned concepts which do not stand the test of truth. The sciences of chemistry and physics of a quarter-century ago are no longer tenable. Science is constantly discovering new truths. For example, the dogma of immutable elements is outmoded. This dogma disappeared with the discovery of radioactivity. At one time, people believed that the world was a fixed, static thing; today we know it is a fluid universe. Einstein and others have shown that the conservation of energy and mass are gone as distinct and separate verities. Energy and mass are interchangeable—this is why thoughts are things.

The Doom of Dogma

We must leave forever the old dogmas which assert something to be true which every scientific thinker knows is false. We are people who still insist on the six-day creation of the earth and that Adam and Eve were our first parents. The allegory of the Garden of Eden together with such concepts as the immaculate conception, the fall of man, judgment day, blood of the lamb, salvation, hell, and damnation—all these terms are based on theological dogma and are of ancient vintage; they must be seen as age-old myths exemplifying inner psychological and spiritual truths.

Religion must keep its mind continually open to new truth. Religion is undergoing a revolution today, and there is no end to the truths of God which will be constantly revealed to the perceptive and meditative mind. Creed, dogma, and tradition will not solve the problems of today. Man needs to discover his hidden powers and learn to rely on them and use the wisdom and power within him to lead him to paths of pleasantness and ways of peace.

He Was Afraid of God

A man wrote me some time ago, stating that he was a good Christian, gave to the poor, attended church regularly, and practiced the precepts and tenets of the church, yet he added, ‘Everything in my life is upside down. I am sick, mentally tortured, financially broke, and I find myself on the rocks. What is wrong?’

In an interview with this man, I found he had a degree in science, was a teacher in Sunday school, was an ardent student of Plato, Aristotle, Eckhart, and Plotinus, and could quote liberally from these famous mystics and philosophers.

While thoroughly conversant with these abstract philosophical ideas, he had never assimilated them so that these concepts could be utilized to bring him a measure of peace. To him, these writings were a sort of intellectual exercise and had never been appropriated so as to reach his heart. ‘Out of the heart are the issues of life.’

He believed in a God in space, away up in the skies, some sort of an inscrutable, tyrannical being who would punish him if he sinned and who was sure to judge him on the last day. He was actually afraid of God; moreover, he believed God’s will was that he suffer. I explained to him how his subconscious mind works, adding that as a scientifically trained man, he should know that laws of mind, like the laws of chemistry, physics, or mathematics, are purely impersonal, and that whatever he impressed on his subconscious mind would be expressed in the same manner that seeds deposited in the soil would come forth after their kind. His religion was not scientific, and he actually violated comment sense. His whole religious viewpoint was irrational, unreasonable, and most unscientific. He learned that he was punishing himself, and that his chaotic life was due to his negative and fearful habitual thoughts which generated destructive, negative emotions.

How She Triumphed Over Intention to Kill the Other Woman

Here is another illustration which points out vividly the workings of the mind. A woman was very angry, hateful, and resentful toward her husband because she discovered he had a mistress; she taught the children to hate him also. She was terribly jealous of the other woman and told me that she had bought a gun with which she intended to kill the other woman. I explained to her the workings of her deeper mind. I showed her that the corrosive and poisonous emotions which she was generating, if sustained, would build up a subconscious reflex mechanism which would compel her to commit the murder which consciously she did not desire. Her orthodox religious concepts proved to be of no avail in the solution of her problem. She needed to awaken the Presence and Power asleep in the boat. She began to awaken to the fact that all the religions of the world, when shorn of their superficialities, wrappings, and trappings, consist exclusively of this basic and fundamental truth taught in the Scriptures: ‘As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.’ The heart means the subconscious mind, and what you impress upon it will come to pass. Thoughts and feelings suppressed in your subconscious mind have a life of their own and are made manifest in your subconscious mind in your experience. Remember that the impressions made in your subconscious are compulsive.

This woman gave up her antiquated ideas and false opinions about religion and realized that she was the captain of her ship and was actively driving it on the rocks. Creed, dogma, and the traditional concept failed her completely. She prayed as follows: ‘I surrender my husband and his mistress to God completely. I know God is the Great Deliverer. God knows me. God cares for me. I expect this mysterious and marvelous Divine Power to bring peace into my soul and lead me to harmony and joy. I will keep on knowing that God’s love fills my mind and body. I know this Universal Power heals me, protects me and opens up new vistas of peace and prosperity for me. I know that the Holy Spirit flows through my mind, calming the winds. This Divine Spirit fills my heart, stilling the waves, and His power strengthens my body. God is stilling the winds and the waves in me now, and I feel a great calm in my soul.’

She repeated this prayer out loud slowly and lovingly many times a day. The result was that her husband came home to her and his family, asking forgiveness. The other woman, in the meantime, had passed on suddenly to the next dimension of life. There is a great calm in this home today.

Regardless of your professed religious beliefs, philosophical attainments, or scientific achievements, the only thing that really matters is to become intimately acquainted with the Spiritual Factor within you. It is indomitable, invincible, and invulnerable.

Why the Flame of Fire Could Not Burn Him

H.T. Hamblin, the late editor of Science of Thought Review, Chichester, England, related to me an incident of two planes, one British and the other German, which had fought in the air near his home. one of the planes fell and crashed into the meadow in flames. The young English pilot was not touched. He told Mr. Hamblin, who had been praying for his security, ‘I knew I was falling, and I wasn’t a bit afraid; on the way down—I don’t know how to tell you, but something changed inside of me, and I knew I could not be burned or hurt in any way.’ A man can be in an exalted state of consciousness, living in higher dimensions of thought, and water will not drown him or fire burn him.

In the Book of Daniel, the incident mentioned above is corroborated. Three men—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—were thrown into the midst of a fiery furnace. ‘Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and thy have no hurt; and the form of the forth is like the Son of God.’ The ‘Son of God’ refers to the Presence of God in each man which can save him from any predicament.

Learn to Triumph Over All Your Problems

Cease trusting in a vague, mysterious being outside of yourself. Learn the laws of your mind which are dependable, and you can trust these laws and principles implicitly. Feel the Presence of God’s Love in your soul and become acquainted intimately with God’s qualities and attributes by building these qualities into your though and feeling. Resurrect your God-given powers, and learn that you can overcome all problems and difficulties. Rise in consciousness by thinking of God and His supreme wisdom and power, and you will still the winds of confusion and the waves of fear and rage: ‘Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.’

—Dr. Joseph Murphy, The Miracle of Mind Dynamics: A New Way to Triumphant Living, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1964, pp. 63-64.

Thousands of years ago Job asked, ‘If a man die, shall he live again?’ This question has been asked millions of times since then. The truth is that there is no death in the sense of oblivion. God is Life, and that Life is our Life now. Life, or God, had no beginning, and It has no ending. Man, being Life as God in manifestation, cannot die.

The body has a beginning, and the body has an ending. We will always have a body because man’s body, whether three dimensional or fourth dimensional, is the vehicle for the expression of Life. When the vehicle or body is no longer a fit instrument here, it is laid aside. Spirit then clothes Itself in a new body.

We must not think of death as an ending. Let us rather think of it as a new beginning, and that more abundant. We must not think it as losing, but rather as gaining. Instead of dismally thinking of parting, let us think of reuniting with all our loved ones. Instead of thinking that we are doing away, let us realize that we are arriving at our new destination. When we have tasted the reality of what man calls ‘death,’ we will have become aware that it is a new birth. It will be what health is to the sick man, what home is to the exile.

Milton said, ‘Death is the golden key that opens the palace of eternity.’ It is impossible that anything so universal as death should ever be looked upon as evil. It must be good or it would not be. The journey is from glory to glory; man goes onward, upward, and Godward. We admit renewal, resurrection and fruition processes in the seasons, birds, flowers, and insect life; but when it comes to man, we are struck numb and dumb with fear. We are timid about taking the position that death and birth are but two sides of the shield of life and should not be feared. Basically, it is life in the process of changing. Something old given up for something new is the transaction consummated in the so-called death process.

When you pass on to the next dimension of life, you will have the full use of your mental faculties. You will recognize your new environment. You will know others and you also will be known. You will see, understand, learn, and advance in all phases of your life. Death is more than an end; actually it is a new beginning, for when something ends something else always begins. This is why every end is a beginning. The entry into the next dimension of life is characterized by newness, freedom, and expression.

Life is an Endless Unfoldment

Life is a progression, an endless unfoldment forever expanding. In the next dimension of life, you will possess a memory of your life on this earth plane, and the remembrance of who you are and what you are is the link which reminds you of the continuity of your individual life as you expand ceaselessly. God is Infinite. You are also infinite, and never in eternity could you exhaust the glories and beauties that are within you—this is how wonderful you are!

Advertisements

Hara, the Vital Center of Man

Hara, the Vital Center of ManRochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2004. Originally published in 1956. Translated from German by Sylvia-Monica von Kospoth in collaboration with Estelle R. Healey.

Hara is essential reading for all who inquire into the spiritual principles and practices that are fundamental to all wisdom traditions and natural healing professions.

—Don Stapleton, Self-Awakening Yoga

About the Author

Karlfried Graf Dürkheim (1896-1988) spent eight years in Japan before World War II and was a professor at the University of Kiel until Hitler’s rise to power in 1933. In Japan he discovered Zen Buddhism in its various expressions and subsequently became a Western authority on the subject.
—From: Backcover

About this Book

When we speak of an individual’s state, we are actually referring to something that transcends the duality of body and soul, something that reflects the entirety of a person’s being. Because each of us is a unity of body and soul, there is no psychic structure or inner tension that is not reflected outwardly in the form and order of the body. When we find the physical center of the body we also find the psychological center of the soul. According to Zen masters, by correcting posture and breathing to balance this center, one can cultivate inner tranquillity and balance: the state called Hara.

Karlfried Graf Dürckheim
Karlfried Graf Dürckheim

Karlfried Graf Dürkheim shows the Western world how to overcome the physical and spiritual decay of modern life by adopting the age-old techniques of Japanese Zen masters. By leaving behind the ‘chest-out-belly-in’ posture and attitude of the West and adopting the belly-centered posture and attitude of Hara, individuals can live a calm, grounded, and more balanced life. Included in this classic text are vital life force practices and translations of the wisdom teaching of three Japanese Zen masters. This book also explores how the practice of Hara emphasizes empirical learning and the cultivation of self-knowledge through the perfection of arts such as painting and archery.
—From: Backcover

Review

In this mind-boggling book, Karlfried Graf Dürckheim provides a brilliant analysis of the concept of Hara, known from Japanese culture and wisdom, but not limited to Japan. In fact, the author writes that if the concept was only of value for the Japanese, he would not have written the book. As the lecture after about half the book shows, the author has in fact trained in Hara in Japan, during the eight years of his stay, prior to WW2, and thus the book is also a practical manual how to ‘Sit with Hara’ and ‘How to Breath with Hara’ and even how to walk with Hara. In fact, no area of life, including sexuality, is excluded from the effort of the Hara practitioner to bring the conscious and unconscious forces in man into harmony and collaboration.

As a psychotherapist, the author also has the authority to assess where people with a dominance of the ego end up in life: he describes at length their struggles with an ego-based worldview and how such an attitude negatively affects the human body, leading to a suffocation of the vital instincts, a ridification of the muscles, breathing problems later in life, arteriosclerosis, loss of memory, and premature aging.

In this sense, then, without the author claiming it, Hara meditation is also a rejuvenating and tonifying practice that, as shown exemplarily in the author’s long life and radiant health even in later years, has a life-sustaining value.

There is no other study than Dürckheim’s about Hara in Japanese philosophy. It is really very different from Indian philosophy for Japanese philosophy is totally life-affirming while Indian philosophy is more or less life-denying.

I have myself practiced Zen meditation for more than ten years which simply consists of concentrating your energy on the hara point. It’s all but that. When your consciousness descents from the ‘upper parts’ of the body (brain and heart) to the belly, a whole new dimension opens which has these effects long-term:
1) Integration of emotions and sexual desire into one streaming energy flow and absence of any highly bothering ‘urges’ and their fantasies;
2) A totally different way to sit, stand and walk, as the axis point of the body is shifted from the middle of the spine (very weak) to the lower spine (very strong). It is told as a tale in Japan that Western people standing at a party could easily be toppled by just prodding a finger into their spine, for they have no Hara stand. A Japanese can even be pushed with both hands and he will not fall, for he’s grounded in the Hara point, the lower belly, and this is even so for ordinary men and women
3) Hara consciousness is different from Ego consciousness in that it is integrated into a greater ‘group’ or ‘cosmic’ consciousness which is why the Japanese are so excellent on the social level and Western people generally so poor.

Quotes

[Introduction]

—Western ways of life have come to an end of their fruitfulness, rationalism has made its final contribution and modern man will succumb increasingly to physical and spiritual decay unless he finds some new way of coming back to his essential self and the true sense of life. /1

—Religion today can withstand neither rationalism nor can it satisfy man’s longings for inner safety. The predominance of the ego with its self-centered structure of consciousness, as well as all its claims, which obstruct and distort man’s connection with the ground of Being, is also the cause of his incapacity for any real faith. /1

—By Hara—and we hold to this name—the Japanese understand an all-inclusive general attitude which enables a man to open himself to the power and wholeness of the original life-force and to testify to it by the fulfillment, the meaningfulness, and the mastery displayed in his own life. Knowledge of Hara is valid not only for the Japanese. It has universal human validity. /2

—Immaturity, unripeness, is the cancer of our time, the incapacity to ripen the specific mark of our time. The neurosis which drives the spiritually sick to the therapist is simply the clearest expression of the universal suffering, the suffering due to man’s estrangement from Being! /3

[Hara in the Life of the Japanese]

—Where the center of gravity shifts upward to the chest and the middle of the body is gainsaid and constricted; the natural alternation of tension and relaxation is replaced by a wrong one which forces a man to swing between hypertension and slackness. /6

—Man, as a living being, is not rooted in himself. Rather is he nourished, sustained and held in order by Nature whose laws operate without his knowledge and assistance. Man sets himself in opposition to the order of life which fundamentally sustains him if, by an unnatural shifting of his center of gravity, he denies that vital center in his bearing which testifies to this order. /7

—Intellect, will and emotion, the powers of head, chest and heart with which man as a conscious being has been endowed will prove his undoing if, caught in the net of his concepts, in the brilliance of his achievements and in the web of his entanglements he forgets his anchorage in the weaving and working of the Greater Life. Just as the growth and unfolding of the crown of a tree depends directly on its root-system, so also the vital development of man’s spirit depends on his being true to his roots, that is, to an uninterrupted contact with the primal unity of Life, from which human life also springs. If, forgetting this, man diminishes the realm of his primal life by artificially pulling himself upwards physically he disturbs the balance of his natural forces, and the inflated I then bars access to that higher development which real function is to humbly prepare, protect, and serve. /7

—The integration of these two poles—the unconscious, and the conscious life of the mind, as well as between life in space time reality and the Reality beyond space time—constitutes the way to human maturity. Maturity is that condition in which man reaps the fruit of the union he has regained. /9

[Hara in the Everyday Life of Japan]

—I remember a large reception, the guests European and Japanese, stood around after dinner drinking coffee and smoking. A Japanese friend of mine who knew of my interest in the ways of his country joined me and said, ‘Do you see that the Europeans standing here could be easily toppled over if one were suddenly to give them a little push from behind? But none of the Japanese would lose their balance even if they were given a much harder push.’ /13

—Upright, firm and collected—these are the three marks of that posture which is typical of the Japanese who knows how to stand, and taken altogether, show the presence of Hara. /13

—A Buddha is not a transcendental god, but a human being into whom the Great Being has penetrated bringing transformation and liberation into the bright light of consciousness. /17

[Hara in the Japanese Language]

—The man with center has calm, unprejudiced judgment. He knows what is important, what unimportant. He meets reality serenely and with detachment keeping his sense of proportion. (…) The mark of it is an inner elasticity which enables him to conduct himself with the utmost matter-of-factness and composure in any situation. /38

—Hara is only in slight measure innate. It is above all the result of persistent self-training and discipline, in fact the fruit of responsible, individual development. That is what the Japanese means when he speaks of the Hara no dekita hito, the man who has accomplished or finished his belly, that is, himself: for he is mature. If this development does not take place we have the Hara no dekita inai hito, someone who has not developed, who has remained immature, who is too young in the psychological sense. /39

—The Japanese are not fond of making moral judgments, except in rare instances. But their characteristic attitude is to affirm life as it is, to accept it and give it its due in its uniqueness, instead of trying to compose it into rational and ethical systems. Such at least is the popular ideal, in the face of which pointless grumbling is considered weak, and narrow-minded judgment despicable. /40

—Thus ‘Hara’ is something which puts the whole man in a specific condition (state), indeed one could say, that he is a ‘whole man’ only because of Hara. Where, however, Hara is lacking, man is not yet ‘whole.’ This idea is also very obvious in other popular sayings. If one says of an action that it is done ‘with the belly’ one means that it is not done by any separate function, not by any specialized organ but by the ‘whole’ of the person, even though he may make use of his or that particular organ. /40-41

—Hara in the true sense has nothing to do with being corpulent, that is, with having a big physical belly. Thus people with no outward belly may have belly in the psycho-spiritual sense and vice versa. /41

—So it can be seen that, through the increase of Hara and its culmination in haragei, an all-round transformation of all man’s faculties takes place. He perceives reality more sensitively, is able to take in perceptions in a different way, assimilates them and therefore reacts differently, and through a different power. The three fundamental reactions to life and the world—perception, assimilation and response—change in the direction of expansion, deepening and intensifying of the whole personality. It becomes altogether wider, deeper and more powerful. /44

[Hara in its General Human Significance]

—In all that has been said until now Hara has appeared as a phenomenon of Japanese life only. But if Hara were nothing but an aspect of Eastern life it would be of merely ethnological interest and the purpose of studying it would be only to obtain a deeper understanding of Eastern people and their way of life. But the longer one studies Hara as understood by the Japanese the more obvious it becomes that the term expresses not just a specifically Japanese phenomenon but one that is universal and valid for all mankind. It is a prime factor of all human life, the realization and practice of which is of equal concern to ourselves. /52

—In every case where a Western man reached the highest development it was possible only because he had first traversed the ‘deep dark.’ The descent into the center of the earth must always precede the ultimate ascent of the spirit. /54

—Despite individual differences, Western man today is generally afraid of being too stout; he seeks a harmony which has its center of gravity in the upper part of the body, and he clearly prefers the confined to the too expansive. All this manifests itself in a universal rejection of the belly. Nothing is more opposed to the modern Western ideal of beauty than the big belly. /54

—The unpopularity of the belly is due to two converging factors. One is simply the unthinking acceptance of fashion, while the other is rooted in an intellectual notion. A big belly, or even a tendency to one, is regarded as a sort of mental fatty degeneration, a coarsening tantamount to a decline of all the mind’s faculties. Secondly, it is equated with a loss of elasticity, particularly of mental energy; in fact, with increased materiality and cumbersomeness—things which modern man dislikes beause he is always aiming at agility, at speed and the upward thrust. High heeled shoes and padded shoulders stress these up-going tendencies. The urge to transcend gravity is quite natural to man as a spiritual being, but the desire to break loose from the vitalizing bond with the solid earth is in conflict with the law of this terrestrial existence. /55

—The present day rejection of the belly is unnatural and betokens a misguided way of thinking. It shows that the natural instinct for the true bodily center of gravity has been lost. /56

—This sustaining, ordering and healing strength rooted in the fundamental unity of life is veiled, however, as soon as a man, relying on his rational powers, falls into the delusion that he can do everything by and through himself. Therefore we usually find natural Hara where rational life-consciousness is not yet formed, as for instance in the healthy-minded child whose uninhibited self and life-consciousness do not rest upon his ability or his knowledge but are simply ‘given.’ /58

—The right weight shows rather in a firm fullness, an inner solidity, and mature breadth. The ‘man of good standing’ and the ‘sedate person’ have their center of gravity in the lower body. The supporting width of the trunk from the waist downward is what often gives to old gentlemen and to matrons their essential dignity of bearing, the marks of the tranquil mind and of inner maturity. /60

—In the Romanesque and Gothic sculpture the belly is clearly stated and expresses strength, achieved self-renunciation and calm acceptance of the bond with earth. It shows the humility in which man, from the weakness of his I and from his bondage to the earth, opens himself to the Eternal. The Gothic belly seems to say: ‘You cannot win heaven if you betray Earth.’ /60

durkeim

[Man with Hara]

—Man’s right relationship to himself is lost where in the interplay of inner life and outer form a disparity appears, either as an excess of the driving force of life or as an exaggerated reserve and self-protection. /69

[Hara has Secular Power]

—Hara reestablishes man’s unity with himself. In regard to his body thi means that he is not in constant opposition to his elementary impulses which require freedom and action, nor is he obliged to be constantly deciding whether to affirm or to deny them. It is as if Hara opened within us a completely new region where our tangled energies can swing easily without necessarily discharging themselves in action. Many life-impulses which for one reason or another have to be suppressed, can, with Hara, be dismissed into a secret inner region whence they return as increasaed overall strength. When this is understood Hara gives man a legitimate power over his sexuality. When the I with its imagination takes possession of a man and demands particular forms of fulfillment his sexuality creates an unbearable tension which has to be either repressed or lived out—alternatives often equally damaging. With Hara an inner door seems to open. Going through this door he lets fall his ego-based imagination-ridden idea of fulfillment, destructive tensions are resolved, and the dammed-up forces acquire positive creative significance. To summarize: anchorage in the vital center which is Hara guarantees man enjoyment of a power which enables him to master life in a new and different way. It is a mysteriously sustaining, ever renewing, ordering, and forming power, as well as a liberating and integrating one. /86-87

[The Strength, Breadth, and Closeness Engendered by Hara]

—The Self he now knows is clearly no longer the old I but a wider, more comprehensive one. He becomes conscious of a new inner breadth, he feels an increase of inner volume as if he had burst the bonds confining him in his physical body. A strange feeling of boundlessness arises, a lierating breadth. He does not lose himself in it, on the contrary, truly finds himself. A new breathing space, scope, and sphere of action opens up and he realizes only then how confined he had been before, how imprisoned and isolated. The man without Hara has only a very small space within, and around him. /96

—The man who gains Hara enters into a new relation with the world which makes him both independent of it and yet connected with it because he has found within himself a broader base of action. He can embrace the world and let himself be embraced by it because in his being he feels at one with it, and yet he can detach himself from it because his new Self, as distinct from his old I, is no longer bound down by it. The man without Hara is dependent on the world precisely because he lacks real connection with it; the man with Hara is constantly connected with it because he is independent of it. /96

[The Order of Life in the Symbolism of the Body]

—For the I-centered mind, with its moral values, the blind natural drives constitute a repellent and unworthy contradiction. The resulting conflict erects barriers against the natural life striving upward from the unconscious and obstructs the way to an all-round human development, more particularly the unfolding of that mind which transcends the overlordship of the purely rational. Instead of a hierarchic order based on the Way leading to the full unfolded Self, a conflict arises in which the mainly rational man excludes and represses that part of his nature which he feels to be irrational, less valuable or even value-destructive. ‘Above’ and ‘below’ are then evaluated as high and low, noble and base, spiritual and material, light and dark. /100

Thought Vibration

Thought VibrationThe Law of Attraction in the Thought World, by William Walker Atkinson, New York: Seed of Life Publishing, 2008. Originally published in 1908.

Quotes

My Working Greed

I BELIEVE that the mind of man contains the greatest of all forces—that thought is one of the greatest manifestations of energy.

I BELIEVE that the man who understands the use of thought-force can make of himself practically what he will.

I BELIEVE that, not only is one’s body subject to the control of the mind, but that, also, one may change environment, ‘luck’ and circumstances by positive thought taking the place of negative. I know that the ‘I Can and I Will’ attitude will carry oe forward to success that will seem miraculous to the man on the ‘I Can’t plane.

I BELIEVE that ‘thoughts are things’ and that the Law of Attraction in the thought world will draw to one just what he desires—or fears.

I BELIEVE in the tspel of work—in ‘hustling.’

I BELIEVE in the I DO, as well as the I AM. I know that the man who will take advantage of the power of the mind, and who will manifest that power in action, will go forward to success as surely and as steadily as the arrow from the bow of the skilled archer.

I BELIEVE in the Brotherhood of Man.

I BELIEVE in being kind.

I BELIEVE in everyone minding his own business—and allowing everyone else the same privilege.

I BELIEVE that he who hates is an assassin; that he who covets is a thief; that he who lusts is an adulterer; that the gist of a crime is in its desire. Seeing this—looking into our own hearts—how can we condemn?

I BELIEVE that evil is but ignorance.

I BELIEVE that ‘to know all is to forgive all.’

I BELIEVE that there is good in every man—let us help him to manifest it.

I BELIEVE in the absolute equality of the man and the woman—sometimes I think that the odds are slightly in favor of the woman.

I BELIEVE in the sacredness of sex—but I also believe that sex manifests on the spiritual and mental planes, as well as on the physical. And I believe that, to teh pure, all things are pure.

I BELIEVE that man is immortal—that the Real Self is spirit, which uses mind and body as its tools and manifests itself according to teh fitness of the tools.

I BELIEVE that man is rapidly growing into a new plane of consciousness, in which he will know himself as he is—will recognize the I AM—the Something Within.

I BELIEVE that there is an Infinite Power in, and of, all things.

I BELIEVE that, although today we have but the faintest idea of that power, still we will steadily grow to comprehend it more fully—will get in closer touch with it. Even now we have momentary glimpses of its existence—a momentary consciousness of oneness with the Absolute

I BELIEVE that the greatest happiness consists in maintaining toward the Absolute the attitude of the trusting child, who, feeling no doubt of the parent’s love—no doubt of his wisdom—places his little hand in that of the parent and says, ‘Lead Thou me on.’

I BELIEVE that he who feels towards the Absolute the trustfulness of the babe, which places its little tired head close tot he breast of the mother, will also be conscious of the tender, answering pressure, as the babe is drawn just a little closer to teh mother-heart.

—William Walker Atkinson

William Walker Atkinson
William Walker Atkinson

—The Universe is governed by Law—one great Law. Its manifestations are multiform, but viewed from the Ultimate, there is but one Law. We are familiar with some of its manifestations, but are almost totally ignorant of certain others. Still, we are learning a little more every day—the veil is being gradually lifted. /1

—When we come to see that thought is a force—a manifestation of energy—having a magnet-like power of attraction, we will begin to understand the why and wherefore of many things that have heretofore seemed dark to us. There is no study that will so well repay the student for his time and trouble as the study of the working of this mighty law of the world of thought—the Law of Attraction. /1

—When we think, we send out vibrations of a fine ethereal substance, which are as real as the vibrations manifesting light, heat, electricity, magnetism. That these vibrations are not evident to our five senses is no proof that they do not exist. A powerful magnet will send out vibrations and exert a force sufficient to attract to itself a piece of steel weighing a hundred pounds, but we can neither see, taste, smell or hear nor feel the mighty forces. /2

—Telepathy and its kindred phenomena are not idle dreams. Light and heat are manifested by vibrations of a far lower intensity than those of thought, but the difference is solely in the rate of vibration. /2

—We are largely what we have thought ourselves into being, the balance being represented by the character of the suggestions and thoughts of others, which have reached us either directly by verbal suggestions or telepathically by means of such thought-waves. Our general mental attitude, however, determs the character of the thought-waves received from others, as well as the thoughts emanating from ourselves. We receive only such thoughts as are in harmony with the general mental attitude held by ourselves; the thoughts not in harmony affect us very little, as they awaken no response in us. /7

—The man who believes thoroughly in himself and maintains a positive strong mental attitude of confidence and determination is not likely to be affected by the adverse and negative thoughts of discouragement and failure emanating from the minds of other persons, in whom these last qualities predominate. /7

—The man who allows his mind to dwell constantly upon thoughts of failure brings himself into close touch with the minds of other ‘failure’ people, and each will tend to pull the other down, still more. The man who thinks that all is evil is apt to see much evil and will be brought into contact with others, who will seem to prove this theory. And the man who looks for good in everything and everybody will be likely to attract to himself the things and people corresponding to his thought. (…) We receive only that which corresponds to our mental attunement. 8

—There are more people on the negative plane of thought than on the positive plane, and consequently, there are more negative thought vibrations in operation in our mental atmosphere. But, happily for us, this is counterbalanced by the fact that a positive thought is infinitely more powerful than a negative one—and if, by force of will, we raise ourselves to a higher mental key, we can shut out the depressing thoughts and may take up the vibrations corresponding with our changed mental attitude. /10

I am asserting the mastery of my real self. Repeat these words earnestly and positively during the day, at least once an hour, and particularly when you are confronted with conditions which tempt you to act on the lines of the lesser self, instead of following the course dictated by the real self. In the moment of doubt and hesitation, say these words earnestly, and your way will be made clear to you. Repeat them several times after you retire and settle yourself to sleep. But be sure to back up the words with the thought inspiring them, and do not merely repeat them parrot-like. From the mental image of the real self, asserting its mastery over the lower planes of your mind—see the king on his throne. /21

Strong expectancy is a powerful magnet. He of the strong, confident desire attracts to him the things best calculated to aid him—persons, things, circumstances, surroundings—if he desires them hopefully, trustfully, confidently, calmly. And, equally true, he who fears a thing generally manages to start into operation forces which will cause the thing feared to come upon him. /28

The key to the mystery is concentration. A little practice will develop within every man the power to use the mental machine properly. When you have some mental work to do, concentrate upon it to the exclusion of everything else, and you will find that the mind will get right down to business—to the work at hand—and matters will be cleared up, in no time. There is an absence of friction, and all waste-motion or lost power is obviated. Every pound of energy is put to use, and every revolution of the mental driving-wheel counts for something. /39

The Four Insights

 

The Four InsightsWisdom, Power, and Grace of the Earthkeepers, Los Angeles: Hay House, 2007.

The Four Insights chronologically is the last of the three books by Dr. Alberto Villoldo that I review here, as it was the most recent at the time I drafted these reviews.

The book is structured very differently from the preceding ones, in that it condenses the teaching into Four Insights.

Part One: Understanding the Energy of Perception

The Four Levels of Perception
Your Energetic Anatomy

Part Two: The Four Insights

Insight One—The Way of the Hero

The Practice of Nonjudgment
The Practice of Nonsuffering
The Practice of Nonattachment
The Practice of Beauty

Insight Two—The Way of the Luminous Warrior

The Practice of Fearlessness
The Practice of Nondoing
The Practice of Certainty
The Practice of Nonengagement

Insight Three—The Way of the Seer

The Practice of Beginner’s Mind
The Practice of Living Consequently
The Practice of Transparency
The Practice of Integrity

Insight Four—The Way of the Sage

The Practice of Mastering Time
The Practice of Owning Your Projections
The Practice of No-mind
The Practice of Indigenous Alchemy Continue reading

Healing the Luminous Body

 

Healing the Luminous BodyThe Way of the Shaman, Sacred Mysteries: 2004, featuring paintings by Alex Grey.

Healing the Luminous Body was my first access to Dr. Villoldo’s unique healing methods that he presents and explains in more detail in his books. This DVD is very well done, a calm and peaceful introduction into the philosophy, the development and the effectiveness of healing the luminous body..

Dr. Villoldo expresses himself fluently, and he is able to inform about the unusual subject in a competent and poised manner. It becomes clear that he speaks of experience, not of theory. Continue reading

Shaman, Healer, Sage

 

Shaman, Healer, SageHow to Heal Yourself and Others with the Energy Medicine of the Americas, New York: Harmony Books, 2000.

Shaman, Healer, Sage is perhaps Alberto Villoldo’s best book. It was anyway the book that made him famous, a real bestseller. It has given me an ultimate peak of reading enjoyment and illumination, and it has also emotionally touched me.

The author comes over in this book as a really honest, competent, emotionally mature, wistful and empathetic person who went through a personal transformation that only few people in these times can say to have accomplished.

This book is not only highly recommended lecture; it can perhaps be considered as one of the best books so far in the century on the issues of shamanic healing and the challenging task to render an outlandish practice of Inka shamans comprehensive to the modern mind! Continue reading

Healing States

 

Healing StatesA Journey into the World of Spiritual Healing and Shamanism, with Stanley Krippner, New York: Simon & Schuster (Fireside), 1984.

Healing States is a research volume that Alberto Villoldo co-authored with Stanley Krippner, and it’s a glorious onset of his own career in spiritual healing. The research presented in this book is highly thought-provoking if not mind-boggling, and it’s well presented.

The point of departure of the author’s scientific journey was his research on psychosomatic medicine. He was interested what exactly makes the soma follow the psyche, or why the spirit imprints itself on the soma, thus causing either health or disease. The authors write:

A growing number of allopathic physicians believe that as much as 80 percent of all illness may contain a psychosomatic component. Allopathic medical science, which does not publicly acknowledge the psychic realm, is still at a loss to explain the origin and treatment of many of these psychosomatic disorders, often merely referring to ‘unconscious conflicts’ that can trigger disease./19

Continue reading