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. 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 my difficulty was that I’m an intellectual and had a large, stubborn ego. Using the intellect and philosophizing are strongly discouraged, 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. Students of the Three Principles are told it’s a feeling you are looking for. However, what kind of feeling was never clearly defined. The intellect is just a tool, and 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).
Especially now that Sydney Banks has been gone for many years, the fate of the 3P has become like that of many religions and philosophies, where the meaning is up for grabs by various interested parties, and schisms, sects, or branches form (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 and broader and deeper histories and understandings.
The recent experiences with a 3P online group (and some of the connections with related people and posting 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 about what I’d known in the dream. I then sought a copy of the book Sanity, Insanity and Common Sense (by Darlene Stuart and Rick Suarez, Ph.D. Roger C. Mills, Ph.D. ), and found 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, meeting Roger Mills (rest in peace) and Ami Chen Mills-Naim in Santa Cruz, and George Pransky at the conference (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.
In addition, since I’m not a professional in the 3P field, there’s no point in 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 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.
I sometimes used the discussions as inspiration for articles, but I’ve seen enough now such that that activity can go on on its own. The patterns and beliefs and assumptions are there, and coalesced around certain topics consistently (such as free will, oneness, personhood, acceptance, etc.), and an on-going deep-seated conflating of psychological and the spiritual (assuming or thinking consciousness is thought-like). The latter pattern has its origins in the early days of the formation and manner of dissemination of the teachings via psychologists, and practical choices Sydney Banks and others made, their belief in the purpose of being world-savers, and the formulations of a set of fairly rigidly or narrowly interpreted “principles” (which ironically point, or should point to the absolute freedom and formlessness!).
And 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).
In short, it was fun, but I’d rather devote energy to “Self-realization” (even though there’s nowhere to go and nothing to do, on this here Direct Path that descended upon my life from Nowhere) and my friends and community of Truth lovers, and “strangers” in this universal love, and others where I meet them, such as in non-duality circles, including from the 3P who’ve matured or graduated too, or are able to put Syd’s message and the 3P in perspective, without rigidity.
Mostly at this stage it’s about seeing Truth directly and in silence from the One true teacher, Reality. It might involve communication or it might simply be Being and letting the universe vibrate to that tune… that is also helpful, since all is connected and inseparable.
That being said, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line about meetings or interesting or fun things going on. I can always ignore you if I want. 🙂
FURTHER NOTES ON THE THREE PRINCIPLES AND NON-DUALITY
“The Three Principles Psychology is Non-Duality in a psychology suit.”
Sydney Banks’ teaching was 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 under the tutelage or work of psychologists, with Syd doing a dance with them of cooperation and conflict – a dance he innocently, naively instigated, as a “professional” way to get it out to the world (see Jack Pransky’s book on the history of the movement, Paradigm Shift).
The simplest expression I’ve heard is that as long as you believe yourself to be a separate entity, you’re on the Progressive Path.
When you are an agnostic, you are on the Direct Path. By agnostic in this context is meant: by the use of your reason alone, aided by intuition, you see absolutely clearly that you don’t know, cannot know, if consciousness is limited or unlimited.
Applied to the 3P that would be something along the lines of, if you see the situation as there being people, human beings – separate entities – that have more or less innate health, more or less innate wisdom, and it’s a matter of bringing that out in the human being, then that is the progressive path. It’s an approach that applies to what’s in human beings, rather than going directly to investigating and pointing to the fact that human bodyminds don’t exist except as within in Consciousness (an activity therein). This is similar also to many religions and to almost all yogic paths: you are working on a person. They are given you a spiritual bone to chew on. A way of progressive improvement and purification, peeling away of the layers of the onion until the real true you at the core is unveiled. The problem is, no onion exists.
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 they 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”.
If on the other hand, you see it as a matter of eliminating the remaining belief and feeling that one might be a person, the belief and feeling to be a separate entity, and dissolving the illusion of separation (the ego) – once you see that it’s a possibility the human being, the body and mind, does not actually in reality exist, and by self-enquiry and the dissolution of the remaining feeling so and lack of clarity, and the testing out of universal consciousness in daily living, one sees more and more cleary that absolute happiness (bliss), Peace, immortality, timeless, causeless joy, that is, True Nature or Consciousness are the very substratum of existence. Reality, the Self, and Consciousness are unlimited. The person never existed in the first place.
You could see it as three levels:
1. Substratum of Reality / Transcendent Fact
This is the common ground, and is there for everyone and for all teachers and students.
2. Teaching or message / pointing to Fact with non-Fact (often paradoxical to the mind)
This is variable but with much underlying overlap or pattern in generality, unity, to those who can see it; the form varies depending on the expression, the tradition (or lack of), the conditioning of the teacher that expressed it, creativity. “Shooting arrows at the moon”.
3. Teacher, Guru, Sage Mystic, Coach… / material non-Fact (part of Maya, illusion, this dream, pointing beyond the Dream)
Is unique to each teacher – the expression of Life, the individual person – and is the least relevant.
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. The stated goal is not to take the student to wisdom.
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,