Kissing a Sweet Goodbye to The Three Principles
From a recording: "If you're listening to this in your car and you find yourself in a beautiful feeling, roll down your window, pop the tape out of the tape player, and throw it out the window. Stay with the feeling, and it will teach you everything you need to know."
~ Sydney Banks
Dear Friend –
This was going to be a private message but got too long to send as a text, and will be the same for all my friends, so is going out as a blog post.
This is just a convenience notice for you regarding future communications, and an update, if anyone is interested, concerning these matters and philosophies.
I left the “What The F*#$ Are The Principles?” group on FaceBook, and similar 3P FaceBook groups (Three Principles Psychology – “3P” – spiritual psychology, life coaching, etc.). That is, I am no longer receiving notifications or seeing postings, or responding to posts.
The experience with the beautiful teachings of Sydney Banks, and its interpretation by various teachers and “practitioners", life coaches, authors, students and so forth, has served its purpose for me. The journey was was a great growth experience, for writing, reflecting and sharing... But I’ve “moved on” as they say, and this for the 3P community in general, unless people want to contact me. I’m not seeking or reaching out to help generally, unless asked (I also don’t look at the FaceBook news stream in general, so don’t know what’s going on with others).
We grow or achieve in whatever area we put our energies and focus towards. This in turn is a reflection of our worldview, values and goals, and what one perceives the purpose of life to be. I see the purpose of life as Happiness. This is the same as Self-realization, since true happiness is knowing who you are, in reality (and I can see happiness is certainly not in the objects, be it relationships, things, places…).
While the 3P purport to help in the direction of freedom and happiness, and are dramatically transformational for a few, my experience was that it can be extremely slow going, and that the form of the teaching can get in the way of the understanding. The student then feels they are not "getting it" or doubts themselves, or the teacher, or the teaching.
Part of the difficulty was that I'm an intellectual and had a large, stubborn ego around that perhaps... and using the intellect and philosophizing are strongly discouraged in the 3P movement, which I feel is a misdirection: the "Jnani" path (the path of knowledge) can be one of the most powerful and direct ways to realize Truth, if properly handled. However, students of the Three Principles are told it's a feeling you are looking for. What kind of feeling was never clearly defined.
As I see it, the intellect is just a tool, but a powerful one: reason can be used to dismantle the beliefs that hold unhappiness and a sense of separation in place. This is one of the several shortcomings of the 3P teachings (and of what has become of it as it has diffused out into the world) and similar "spiritual" or New Age belief systems: a fascism towards thinking and intellect.
Especially now that Sydney Banks has been gone for many years, the fate of the 3P has become like that of many revelatory religions and philosophies, where the meaning is up for grabs by various interested parties, schisms, and sects of it (such as the "Single Paradigm" offshoot). In any case, I've found there are other teachings and teachers that are vastly more powerful for me (and perhaps for folks like me), with more solid lineages of philosophical investigation and broader and deeper histories and understandings (e.g., Advaita vedanta – Non-duality).
A Little Bit of History
The recent experiences with a 3P online group (and some of the connections with related people, postings and groups), were the “capping off” of 21 years of involvement in the Three Principles community, starting with a dream in 1997 that revealed true innate Peace to me. Shortly after the dream, I happened to encounter Richard Carlson's book You Can Be Happy No Matter What, which spoke exactly to what I’d experienced in the dream. A footnote in the back mentioned a book, Sanity, Insanity and Common Sense by Darlene Stuart and Rick Suarez, Ph.D. Roger C. Mills, Ph.D., which I managed to track down at a university library... which led to finding the Psychology of Mind Centre (POM) in Australia and Oregon. (I have a blog posting about the book and the authors here) This led to going to a POM Conference in 1997, meeting Roger Mills (rest in peace) and Ami Chen Mills-Naim in Santa Cruz, as well as the eminent George Pransky (bless them all). I’ve written elsewhere about that involvement so won’t go deeply into it here. Also deserving mention from later years (in the mid 2000s or so) for their one-on-one coaching are George Pransky's daughters Kara Stamback and Erika Bugbee (briefly, via phone or email), and more in-depth on-going dialogues with Mark Howard and Annika Hurwitt.
Back to the Present
In any case, at this point I am not pouring energy into it, especially when it starts to feel serious (the ego getting involved) or is not making a overall difference: I was hearing lots of "noise" and/or lots of the same kinds of comments and questions on the forums, repeating the same confusions misunderstanding and lack of clarity, and spending lots of time and energy helping to clarify as best I could, or help folks see more directly. It’s like bailing out the ocean (of ignorance) with a measuring cup. (And my views on the 3P are available anyway, in various articles on this blog or posted on Group With No Name on Facebook).
This is not to disparage the 3P movement – it serves its place in the grand scheme of things – or the many wonderful, loving, heart-centered teachers and students, practitioners and coaches I've seen. They all have the best of intentions and are doing the best they can. This innate innocence of all human beings (and other beings) is one of the things I gained from knowing wonderful 3P teachers, such as Robert Kausen (no longer with us) and Elsie Spittle.
On the forums I was seeing lots of entrenched positions, interests, agendas and egos. I saw politics arising, as if it were religious factions or schisms at war with each other (the ego at work: it has to maintain its separateness and it takes constant energy and repetition, recycling, to maintain the false and illusory).
FURTHER NOTES ON THE THREE PRINCIPLES AND NON-DUALITY
"The Three Principles Psychology is Non-Duality in a psychology suit."
Sydney Banks' teaching I would call a direct path one, with no practices except a direct pointing beyond thought to the universal nature of who we are, based in his profound non-dual mystical revelation experiences and insights. But it was a teaching without a tradition, definition, vocabulary or structure to ground it in – a charming 70's freeform creation. In my view it then turned into more of a "progressive path" one, in the sense that it became about something in the person rather than truly universal – an object, and purification or change for a separate entity – under the tutelage or work of psychologists. Sydney Banks was doing a dance with them of cooperation and conflict – a dance he innocently, naively instigated, as he saw psychologists as a "professional" way to get the message out to the world (see Jack Pransky's book on the history of the movement, Paradigm Shift).
A side effect of its origins was that there was no method of doing this nouveau-progressive path, since it was felt that understanding and the "feeling" alone would do it. There was a grain of truth to this, but students were left either on their own getting insights, or to invest in more books, tapes, seminars, classes, coaching, and so on; it played out into those who "got it" somehow, and those who kept trying.
For those with an intellectual bent, who were more suited to a "path of knowledge" (Jnani) and needed a way to answer questions, doubts, philosophical issues, as well as a method to address the feeling, unconscious level, they were left out. Dismissing intellectual questions, and being told to just "follow the feeling" didn't often help me: I'd only get the feeling after an insight. And, the ad nauseum repeating of the principles (a rigid formulation) only frustrates the lost. "Mind, Thought & Consciousness" start to sound like things, like objects, like an ontology. It forms a picture in the mind, but that picture is not It. And besides, aren't the principles truly all One? These kinds of questions would lead to very long discussions online, or with different answers from different practitioners. It got exhausting.
True, the teaching does sometimes facilitate one getting insights, and for some great transformations for a few lucky individuals, but it is very much up to grace, without a "ladder".
As time went on as a student of the 3P, and continued to have problems in my life and feeling I was not "getting it" – no matter how much time and money I put into it, and how much I paid practitioner (I consulted with two different psychologist who had known Sydney Banks at an hourly rate) – a thought occurred to me there must be something wrong somewhere: if not with the student, or the teacher (who seemed genuinely trying to help, innocent, intelligent, and with a stable and relatively happy life), or the teaching (or perhap all three haha!).
So given the 3-level view I gave, what was "wrong" with the Three Principles Psychology? Of course there is ultimately nothing wrong anywhere in the universe: all is well and unfolding as it should (always start with the infinite and universal and see where we arrive, as that is more and more how I'm living my life).
In retrospect I see now that, for one thing, the teachers were not as happy or balanced as I'd thought. They may have been relatively untroubled, or able to re-stabilize themselves, compared to most of the people one meets and certainly happier than the clients they consulted with, they were not actually models of true freedom, liberation, self-realization, unconditional happiness. In fact they would use examples from their lives of getting knocked off balance by small things as teachings models, to show how they got back on track. They would show how it was just "all thought" and they'd gotten caught taking their thinking seriously. They got back to their basic "grounding" in "the understanding".
Well this is all fine and good – and as I said, it's all part of the beautiful and perfect unfolding of life – and I would not have been able to hear anything deeper at the time. But the fact is, there is a deeper way: a way that can take you all the way (to the ultimate understanding). A way that leads back to the timeless fact that there is no "way". The gateless gate of knowing what you are: timeless, perfect, infinite, and ungraspable: beyond the mind (what this site is about). It's what Syd Banks the mystic was pointing to, or trying to, but it got lost along the way, when to put it in his words "fell on the ears of the listening mind".
So, ironically, it's the thinking that's destroyed the message. Ironic, because the newest newfangled derivatives of the Three Principles are now the "Single Paradigm" where they try and focus on Thought as the key!
In truth, the bar is lower for being a life coach or psychologist compared to being a spiritual teacher. The stated goal of a coach or psychologist is not to take the student to wisdom, but to cope better, be happier and more "successful" as a human. Most people see this as "practical" whereas in fact, pure uncaused happiness is the most practical in reality. But that's usually only discovered after most avenues of worldly or mental happiness have already been exhausted ...
In any case, ultimately, in reality, there are no students and no teachers. There's only One teacher, and She Is the same as the student. There's only One teaching, and that's the One, universal and omnipotent and omnipresent, expressed as love and bliss, sitting eternal: common ground for the no-things that seem to exist. This is the joke, if you see it ...
Peace, Love, Beauty and all that good stuff,