Vanity thought #341. Hypnosys

I don’t know how I was reminded of the existence of this subject, somehow it never pops up in our Krishna conscious discourse, it’s not in our books and I can’t seem to find any useful info about it form our perspective. Vaniquotes are not particularly helpful here either.

When I was growing up we had a professional hypnotists for a neighbor and so I attended several private and public sessions. Only one of my close friends was susceptible to hypnosis but in a larger group of people there were always quite a few persons who displayed some amazing things. Then I forgot all about it until now.

I think there are two ways to approach this area, one is translating hypnosis into our own terms – mind, intelligence, etc, and the other is hypnotherapy itself.

A few years ago a devotee offered a CD containing hypnotherapy recordings to help people progress in their Krishna Consciousness. His main line of reasoning was that hypnosis can help people follow regulative principles which should make lives of many of us a lot easier. He didn’t get a lot of support in public internet discussions.

Mostly people said that since it wasn’t recommended by Prabhupada than it is not necessary, and also that following four regs is the result of attachment to Krishna, it can’t be done artificially. I think there’s a lot of truth in these arguments.

Our desires for enjoyment, especially illicit enjoyment, are rooted in our hearts, not in our subconscious minds where hypnotists operate. A proper session might reprogram us to stop registering these desires in our minds and so we won’t act on our urges but this will only deal with the symptoms, not with the disease itself. Makes sense, right?

To those objections that devotee answered that he helped quite a few people to kick their bad habits, smoking, for example, and take to practicing Krishna consciousness more seriously. Hard to argue with this either.

Conquering the illicit desires, even if temporary, earns one a permission to approach our spiritual authorities and get actively engaged in service to our mission, perhaps even earn the acceptance and initiation by a guru. Normally we treat those steps as being of utmost importance on our journey back to Godhead. It doesn’t matter much if the hypnotherapy effect will eventually wear off, you can’t undo the mercy of the spiritual master, by hook or by crook – you are already “in”, Krishna won’t abandon you, you are saved.

I guess there could be counterarguments that initiation performed on a hypnotized person is not a real thing and that is probably very true, but the mercy of the guru is real independently of that.

Another argument against using hypnosis could be constructed this way – you can suppress your sinful desires and get admission to ISKCON spiritual family but the desires themselves won’t go away. The real danger is not that they will come back but that you are missing your opportunity to purify yourself via legitimate methods – by chanting the Holy Name and associating with the devotees. With these desires still present in your heart you have a very good chance of taking a birth again.

Krishna will satisfy what you want in your heart at the moment of your death, if it’s still filled with material desires and thus devoid of devotion – how can you expect to become His servant in the spiritual world? Normally devotees are expecting death in anticipation of meeting Krishna at the end of their journey, but that implies reaching the end of the journey, it means we have done our work, passed our tests, and can offer prayers just like ones in Isopanishad.

If all the work we have to do on ourselves between taking to Krishna consciousness and our deaths was not important at all we wouldn’t have needed hypnosis to wait it out, we could commit mass suicides or plunge ourselves into induced coma. I mean if the goal is not to break our regulative principles until our death – coma or suicide is a lot more effective than hypnosis that doesn’t even work on most people.

This kind of arguing can go on and on without ever reaching a conclusion, which makes me suspect that searching for an answer here is futile, which makes me suspect that it’s the question that is wrong.

It divides us into “trust our method and Krishna” vs “use hypnosis” camps but that distinction is false. Our hearts are purified from within, by Krishna’s spiritual potency, but the external manifestation, following principles, is carried out by His external energy. Externally there’s always a reason why we give up smoking or drinking or gambling – external energy always follows the chain of cause and effects. There might be some spiritual nudging here and there but there’s also plenty of down to earth, perfectly reasonable arguments against meat eating or intoxication or illicit sex, too. We use the whole arsenal – better food, engagement in active service, lots of scary stories in our daily classes, positive reinforcement and so on.

Hypnotherapy could be one of the tools that helps us to stay in shape. It could also be a tool specifically prepared by Krishna to help us get through, just as he sends us food and water to sustain our lives or sends appropriate news clippings to our lecturers to remind us of the dangers of illicit activities.

We worry about the value of hypnotherapy for the same reason we worry about free will – we are living on a material platform. We should practice our service not to find answers to those questions, we should practice so that the worries themselves would go away.

Acquiring knowledge about pros and cons of each particular issue is useful only as long as it helps us concentrate on the essence of the service itself and ignore the arguments as distracting. It’s a mental exercise to purify the mind, and I think I’m done enough analyzing for today on the subject of hypnosis.

One comment on “Vanity thought #341. Hypnosys

  1. Pingback: Vanity thought #370. Light hypnosis | back2krishna

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