The Guhenian System

as an Application of NLP to the Spiritual Field

Guhen Kitaoka

John Grinder, one of the co-founders of NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming), held a one day workshop in London a few years ago. In it he suggested that he had been quite disappointed that there had been only applications of NLP since he and Richard Bandler co-founded NLP some 25 years ago, and that, unless NLP people do a "quantum leap" work similar to what Grinder and Bandler achieved to create NLP, NLP will certainly die out in 20 or 30 years' time, however deeply and widely it will be spread into the whole spectrum of the society.

I totally agree with Grinder, and to me one of the main reasons why there have been only applications of NLP to date is that there have been excellent NLP practitioners and trainers in the past, but that, unfortunately, while they may be very good duplicators of the techniques created by the NLP co-developers, they may have lacked the innovativeness, creativity, and perseverance that the two co-founders were equipped with when they created this fascinating (what I call) communication psychology.

But, here, there may be a loud objection directed against me that my own life work (i.e., the Guhenian system) introduced in my (forthcoming) CD-ROM book "CYBERBOOK: An Integral Epistemology for Enlightenment" may be also nothing but one such instance of application of NLP into the field of spirituality.

In the following part of the present writing, I would like to expound my claim that it may be true that my work is only an application of NLP on the one hand, but that it may have a "revolutionary" significance which may even "topple" the very foundation of NLP on the other hand. In other words, I claim that the way how NLP is applied to the spiritual field in the Guhenian system itself may have a possibility of even transcending its father, NLP.

Incidentally, this mechanism of something which has derived from the source transcending the source itself, reminds me of how NLP was born in California in the middle of the seventies.

Namely, I understand that there must have been tens of thousands of freak people/schools experimenting with all kinds of consciousness altering techniques including psychotherapies, Eastern meditations, drugs, etc., in the middle of California at that period. I can imagine that almost all these schools were probably "bogus pocus" as ordinary people may easily imagine. But at the same time, I think that there was a possibility for one or two among these tens of thousands of schools to happen to turn out to be authentic and real, at least if argued for the statistics' sake. And I claim that this is exactly what happened to NLP. There is no reason why the real cannot be found among tens of thousands of seemingly pseudo things. (I suspect that the single biggest (or probably even the sole) reason why NLP has not sunk into the obscurity like its other contemporary schools is that it had Gregory Bateson as its epistemological background.)

I here tend to want to apply this mechanism of "the real may be found in the forest full of the pseudo" to the case of different applications of NLP; it may be true that the majority of these applications cannot transcend the source (NLP), as the logic may dictate, but there is no wonder if one or two such applications could turn out to transcend the source itself, defying the common sense logic. And I claim that this is the case with my own application of NLP to the field of spirituality.

Whether my above claims are ill founded or not will hopefully be confirmed by the readers of this writing. I now would like to start my exposition on the main subject:

First of all, I would like to remind the readers of Einstein's metaphor that the whole universe is so warped that, if you continue to go straight for ever, you will come back exactly to the back of your head; the two extremities are the after all the same thing; or the alpha is the omega.

By this I wanted to mean a couple of things:

One, in my life work of "applying NLP (the newest in the West) to the spiritual methodologies for enlightenment (the oldest in the East)", I have discovered that the two disciplines (NLP and Vedanta) are expounding practically one and the same thing (there is one single NLP technique which I cannot find anywhere in the Vedantist written tradition, but this subject will be discussed separately elsewhere).

Two, I claim that NLP (or the epistemology presented by Bateson, who is probably the most important thinker of the 20th century, for that matter) is the pinnacle (I specifically would not say "one of the pinnacles") of the human psychological achievement in the at least 2,500 year long history of human thinking. In this connection, Bateson went as far as to say in his posthumous book, "Angels Fear", that the problems proposed by Aristotle 2,500 years ago and compounded by Descartes have been already solved by his and/or Russell's epistemology!

Now, (although he is so humble as to qualify his claim by adding that, after these problems have been sorted out, new problems may be generated) this statement of Bateson is truly awesome; it means that the 2,500 year long problem of "body/mind" dualism has been already solved once and for all, and that the whole efforts of all the genius philosophers in the 2,500 year long history have finally paid off (but it is ultimately ironical that the conclusions that Western thinkers have arrived at after these tedious and tormenting efforts for 25 centuries has turned out to be only something which Eastern philosophers and psychologists (in India) already knew and expounded in their writing well before Aristotle, if my claim that NLP and Vedanta are pointing at one and the same thing is confirmed by the readers! - in this connection I wrote elsewhere: "It is nothing but awe-inspiring to know that the one end of the curve line which started to be drawn by the 'inner science' of Vedanta, has finally been reconnected with the other end (i.e., the starting point) of the curve by Communicational Science [or 'Communication Psychology' for that matter], only after the development of the 'outer science' for thousands of years; namely, a human development which might not have been necessary." (Cf. "NLP and Spirituality" by Guhen Kitaoka).).

Here, I may not need to explain myself how it is the case that Vedanta is the pinnacle of the old Eastern tradition (the readers will be only invited to read the well documented whole literature of important Vedanta teachers themselves), and what I want to suggest is that these two pinnacles (one in the old Eastern tradition and the other in the new Western tradition) are like two summits in the Himalayan mountains, and it is very hard and nearly impossible to tell which is the taller of the two (or rather such a comparison itself would be meaningless in the first place for the reasons the readers may be able to sense).

It is in this very sense that I would like to strongly suggest that my application of NLP to the old Eastern tradition is not like other applications, and may be said to be on a (higher) different level than other applications, in the sense that the Guhenian system is a hinge or catalyst trying to reconnect the one end of human epistemological tradition with the other end to create a whole (or rather "holistic") recurring circle.

I now want to discuss one important subject related to the main subject of this writing:

When I was practising spiritual exercises in the past, I had an ever tormenting and lingering epistemological problem, which I believe is the central problem to all the sincere spiritual seekers. This problem was: "How can I go beyond my mind within my mind?" This is a kind of intrinsically unsolvable problem, but I was of the opinion that, unless it was solved, I would never get (perpetually) enlightened, because I could always function only within the framework of my mind. This problem was puzzling to me all the more because there had been a number of people who were seemingly able to successfully go beyond their own mind and get enlightened.

I further thought that unless I could solve this problem I would for ever continue to be dependent on other (enlightened) persons, because I logically would continue to need someone outside my system who would push myself into enlightenment from time to time, so to speak, simply because I would have no way to keep my enlightenment from WITHIN. But still I was not able to accept a (to me) ridiculous idea that there are few chosen born enlightened people and many cursed unprivileged people. I was seeking a methodology which would enable the latter to consciously transform themselves into the former.

I continued to feel as if I had been in an anteater's hole; I somehow had been able to manage to enter it (consciously or unconsciously) but seemed to have no way out (or to have forgotten how I had entered it in the first place)!!! During this period, I think that Alan Watts was of help to me to describe my situation using his term "the encapsulated self", which is, according to my understanding, the real self covered (or rather "trapped") by the mind, the physical body, etc., but this understanding didn't lead to my actually getting out of the anteater's hole myself.

Another metaphor which helped me at this stage was Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh's "The Goose is Out!" This was the title of his last series of lectures he delivered in India before going to the States in 1980. This metaphor is like this:

There was a disciple called Riko. He went to his master, who gave him a Koan (an apparently nonsensical question or instruction that a Zen master would ask or give to his disciples). He said "There is a gosling in a bottle. You feed it, and it is becoming bigger and bigger. Now it is a big goose filling the inside of the bottle. If you want to save the goose, you have to break the bottle, and if you want to save the bottle, you need to kill the goose. What can you do to save both the goose and the bottle?"

Riko retreated from his master and pondered over the Koan, and went back to his master with his answer one week later. The master rejected his answer, saying "Meditate upon it further." Riko went away and came back to his master one week later with another answer. This new answer was again rejected by the master, who ordered him to go away to further ponder over the Koan. This process was repeated several times, and Riko, after exhausting all his possible answers, finally went back to his master, and said to him "Master, I cannot think of any other answers. Please teach me the real answer."

Upon hearing this, the master suddenly clapped his hands and shouted loud "Riko, the goose is out!"

This is the end of the story. According to Rajneesh, when Riko exhausted his metaphysical alternatives, his master simply took advantage of the moment, and gave him an existential shock by clapping his hands, and got him back to the moment of here and now where there can never exist any problem, instead of being entangled with mentation where all kinds of problem may mushroom.

This metaphor was a tremendous help to me in the sense that I understood that if I can be purely here and now I immediately and unconditionally can be out of the anteater's hole with no ambiguous question. I felt much more relieved, but I was still not given the clue as to how I can be continuously here and now (not philosophically but existentially). I was able to see the situation that traditional spiritual teachers can lead their disciples into the right direction, but that they may not have an explicit set of tools (like mathematical formulas or linguistic grammars) to accelerate their disciples' learning process. I further thought that that is why traditional disciples had to spend probably thousands of years (including their reincarnations) in meditations to work out their own way to get enlightened by chance.

This limbo state (where I knew the mechanism of how to get out of the anteater's hole, but lacked the existential methodologies to actually achieve that outcome) lasted a few years, until I discovered that such a methodology actually existed; it was NLP.

Because of the nature of the subject of this writing, I deliberately don't go into the details of NLP methodology and/or techniques here, but simply want to suggest that NLP has turned out to be a miraculous methodology which makes the impossible (getting out of an anteater's hole by oneself without help from outside, or "transcending Mind by mind (achieving Universal Consciousness by means of a tiny mind)") possible.

I further only want to mention here a discovery made by two German mathematicians. The following is a quotation from the "Infinity and the Finite" page of my book "CYBERBOOK":

"It is extremely interesting to know that, according to Bertrand Russell, 'Twenty years ago [in 1897], roughly speaking, Dedekind and Cantor asked [the question of what infinity is], and what is more remarkable, they answered it. They found, that is to say, a perfectly precise definition of an infinite number or an infinite collection of things'. (Cf. 'Mysticism and Logic'.) You can read the mathematical exposition of this discovery in Russell's 'Our Knowledge of the External World'.

"In the author's opinion, the answer provided by Dedekind and Cantor means that 'finite numbers can embrace infinity' or that 'the finite can transcend infinity', and their discovery should be recognised as important as - if not more important than - Einstein's theory of relativity.

"This mathematical discovery is a kind of endorsement on the part of the modern West of the claim made by Raja Yogis in the old India that Mind (i.e., infinity) can be transcended by mind (the finite)."

Now this little known mathematical discovery is truly mind-blowing. To me, this is nothing but a mathematical proof that one who has fallen into an anteater's hole (= the finite) CAN transcend the situation by oneself and get out of the hole (= infinity) without any help from others, that "mental games" like NLP techniques (= the finite) CAN produce real changes in one's own existential life (= infinite), that one encapsulated in our tiny mind (= the finite) CAN transcend itself to become Universal Mind (= infinity), or even that the real (= infinity) CAN be grasped and experienced by the Maya (= the finite).

(Incidentally, the most elegant description of "the real can be grasped and experienced by the Maya" is probably the one made by one of the co-developers of NLP, Robert Dilts, in his "Roots of Neuro-Linguistic Programming":

"Epistemological models such as NLP are unique models in that, while they are models about our experience, by the very act of thinking about such models they also become a part of our experience.")

My acquainting myself with this awesome discovery made by the above two mathematicians was the single biggest impact on me as the epistemological proof that I could instantaneously at any moment get out of the anteater's hole I was in at that time, and I even thought that I could deliberately go into any other anteaters' holes to explore their inside, knowing that I was able to get out of them at any moment at will!

I know that my above mention is not just cerebral but can be backed up by existential techniques of NLP (= the finite), which can produce real changes in your life (= infinity) by practising these techniques, but this area is something which the readers should experience and explore themselves. And I can only strongly recommend the readers to be trained by competent NLP trainers (though it may be difficult to find ones) to explore NLP techniques.

I want to mention in this connection one more very powerful metaphor, which can explain how part (the finite) can change the whole (infinity). The following is a quotation from the "Fractals" page of "CYBERBOOK":

"Fractal designs are generated by performing a calculation on the basis of simple formulas. This process is repeated over and over again by inputting the result of the calculation back into the formulas.

"Fractal patterns are said to represent how such natural things as galaxies, hurricanes, coast lines, mountains, rivers, bushes, cauliflowers, veins, etc., are formed. They are holistic, non-linear and recursive.

"It seems that fractals may present a solution to the problem of universal life forms, and that they may prove to be more convincing than, for instance, a paisley-like shape, in which Wilhelm Reich, an important but greatly misunderstood psychoanalyst, once tried to identify the universal life form.

"From the point of view of the Guhenian System, fractals have a great significance in that they may be related to how some people are able to learn things quickly and easily and others are not, and that they may be helpful in accelerating the learning process.

"Specifically, the concept of 'fractals' is closely related to the concept of 'chunks', in the sense that the process of sorting out a number of pieces of information into, say, seven chunks, so that only seven repetitions of such a process enable one to deal with 823,543 pieces of information, resembles extremely closely the process of creating fractal designs [please refer to the exposition I will make at the end of this writing where this subject is discussed in detail]. (The following diagram represents this process.)"

Here, I can incidentally add two things about this very interesting Fractals diagram:

One, I tend to look at the above diagram upside down. In this new flipped diagram, you have the level of Universal Consciousness or God on the top level. And you can imagine that "one breath of Brahman" propagates itself to the lower levels, and this same single pattern can manifest itself in the multitudinous form on the phenomenal level as the minute details of this phenomenal world. I personally think that this mechanism with fractals is a very plausible epistemological answer to the important Shankarite question: "Why does One manifest itself as Many?"

Two, still with the above flipped diagram, traditional spiritual people may talk about "one-directional transformation", meaning that changes in the patterns on the top level can cause changes in the patterns in the phenomenal details on the lower levels, but not vice versa.

However, in the Guhenian system, I find no reason why a tiny detail on the lowest level, for instance, cannot cause changes on the top level. This mechanism of the patterns of a lower level affecting the patterns on a higher level is consistent with my description of examples of "the finite transcending infinity" given above. Also, I presented my argument on this subject in detail elsewhere (Cf. The "Can a Wave Change the Ocean?" page of "CYBERBOOK", etc.)

The probably most epitomising and existential example (and also "proof") of how the change in the patterns on a lower level can cause a change in the patterns on higher levels, which I have experienced in my real life, is related to my practice of one of the most powerful NLP techniques invented by Robert Dilts (I practice it with my own slight adaptation).

Each time I succeed in mentally changing my "behavioral patterns" using this technique, I have a very deep sigh (connected with the change in my postures/behavior) as if the whole psychological tension accumulated so far related to the experience in question is completely released, and after that I will never experience the very unwanted experience again any more. (It is through my continuous practice of this and other NLP techniques that I have succeeded in eradicating all of my "unfinished businesses".)

(Incidentally, it may be very interesting to specifically note here that the above mention of "the whole psychological tension accumulated so far related to the experience in question" is very closely related to Stanislav Grof's "COEX Systems" (systems of condensed experience), which may be equivalent to Freud's "complexes". Such condensed experiences can also be compared to entangled nodes of the flying string of a "kite". By the "nodes of a kite string", I mean that we have a few limited number of "primal archetypal" core experiences (from our childhood), that all other (probably emotionally) related experiences are grouped around each of these core experiences (i.e., nodes), and that each time we experience a stimulus reminding us of one of these core experiences (à la "Anchoring" of NLP), it will trigger all "synaptic" firing of the experiences related to, and surrounding, that specific core experience (node) and we will become "panicky", etc.

Therefore, what I meant when I suggested above that my deeply sighing during my practice of the NLP technique in question makes the whole psychological tension accumulated around my unwanted experience completely released, is that this sighing existentially (not cerebrally, etc.) enables the node of that experience (found in my psychic gestalt) to untie itself so that the kite string may become more straightened.)

Now, to further expound how my sighing during my practice of the NLP technique, leading to the automatic dissolution of my "psychological nodes", can be an example of "a change in the patterns on a lower level causing a change in the patterns on higher levels", is a little too complicated a subject for me to go into in this writing, and also some experiential understanding of NLP techniques (as well as some knowledge of the powerful Vedantic concept of "Five Sheaths") may be required for the understanding of my would-be exposition. (Cf. Footnote.) Its exposition therefore may need to be reserved for another occasion, but I can mention below one extremely significant thing about this mechanism of what I experience by practicing the NLP technique(s):

That is, it may take probably many (hundreds or thousands of) years for traditional meditators to work on the physical level (i.e., the postures or "Asanas" in Sansrit) and on the vital force level (i.e., the breathing patterns or "Pranayama, etc."), in order to change the patterns on the higher levels of their consciousness, or simply to calm their mind (ironically indicating the direction of from the bottom up, as opposed to the "from the top down" unilateral transformation which the very spiritual meditators may prefer!), while, in the Guhenian system, a change in the patterns on the mental and possibly intellectual levels (i.e., practicing the NLP techniques) is ALMOST INSTANTANEOUS (because it is done in a few second long mental exercise), and therefore the changes on the vital-force and behavioral levels caused by that change on the higher levels (indicating the direction of from the top down) are also achieved instantaneously.

This means that the learning process of spiritual meditators now can be accelerated at an astronomical rate (the exactly same effects can be obtained in a matter of seconds rather than thousands of years), by enabling themselves to achieve the same desired outcomes in the "reversed order", thanks to the very powerful techniques of NLP.

The readers may be here confused by the paradox involved as to why traditional spiritual people favoring in principle "the top down unilateral transformation" have had recourse only to the "the bottom up" techniques like postural or breathing control on the one hand, and why NLP which is in principle a "the bottom up" methodology can achieve the same effects in a fraction of the time traditionally required, BY USING the "the top down" techniques (a change on the mental and intellectual levels causing a change in the breathing or postural patterns) on the other hand - especially because I intended above to introduce the mechanism of the "automatic dissolution of the psychological nodes" as an example of how part (the lower level) can change the whole (the highest level).

In this regard, I can only say that, traditional spiritual teachers simply have had no explicit set of tools (like mathematical formulas or linguistic grammars) to date, and therefore have had to rely on a rather time consuming and tedious "knack depending" techniques like breathing or postural control. With regard to the mention in the second half of the previous paragraph, I have discovered that there is no intrinsic contradiction in my own statements, but again have to repeat that the way this paradox can be explained is a little too complicated for the purpose of the present writing, and I would like to seek the very kind patience on the part of the interested readers on the matter. I would probably touch the subject in another writing of mine in the future, or might be able to explain it to the interested readers directly in an actual setting, if they happen to have opportunities of taking part in my future sessions/workshops.

At this last part of the present writing, I had better make another following quotation from the "Chunk Up and Chunk Down" of my book "CYBERBOOK", to more clearly explain the above statement: "the process of sorting out a number of pieces of information into, say, seven chunks, so that only seven repetitions of such a process enable one to deal with 823,543 pieces of information" made in my earlier exposition of the Fractals diagram:

"A Chunk is an important concept of NLP. It is a unit or piece of information that our bio-computer can process as an integral group. It is like a bag, so it can also contain several sub-pieces of information within itself. (See the diagram below.)

"Also, it is said that a human brain can process 7 plus or minus 2 chunks at any single moment of time. It means that, if there are too many pieces of information that need to be processed, we will probably be able to deal with them by regrouping these pieces into 5 to 9 groups, each of which contains 5 to 9 pieces of information or chunks. This enables us to deal with 25 to 81 pieces of information rather easily. Moreover, if we can create further sub-chunks on a lower logical level (this process may be called "chunking down"), then we may be able to deal with 125 (5 x 5 x 5) to 729 (9 x 9 x 9) pieces of information rather comfortably, and so forth.

"An interesting fact here is that if we chunk down only seven times by including seven pieces of sub-chunks in each chunk, then we will already be able to deal with 823,543 (seven multiplied by seven seven times) pieces of information comparatively easily."

This is the Guhenian exposition as to how accelerated learning is possible using communication psychology like NLP.

In order that the main subject may be further expounded, probably "the Theory of Probability" and "the Theory of Logical Types" may need to be explained as the epistemological background to bring birth to NLP. Moreover, how the awesome discovery made by the two German mathematicians mentioned in this writing, enables the Guhenian system to consider enlightenment to be a special case of "state of mind" (I am keenly aware that this consideration is a kind of anathema to traditional spiritual people), with the assistance of the above two theories, is a very important and interesting subject to discuss. These subjects are covered in my forthcoming CD-ROM book "CYBERBOOK", and I would like to recommend the interested readers to further refer to it.

Note: An extract of Guhen Kitaoka's forthcoming CD-ROM book "CYBERBOOK: An Integral Epistemology for Enlightenment" (which contains a total of 108 HTML pages) is available over the Internet (


In the text, I didn't expound the Vedanta concept of 'Five Sheaths', but it may be after all quite appropriate for this to be explained as part of the footnote of this article, because this ancient concept is very closely related to both the modern concepts of 'Fractals' and 'Chunks' introduced in the text, thus may become a help for the readers to understand what is presented in this article. It is to be further noted that Robert Dilts' model of 'Logical types of inner perception' is also extremely closely related to the same concept. The following is a quotation from the 'Five Sheaths' page of Guhen Kitaoka's 'CYBERBOOK':

"There are said to exist five sheaths ('Koshas' in Sanskrit) which cover ourselves. They are from the bottom 1) the physical sheath, 2) the sheath of vital energy, 3) the sheath of mind, 4) the sheath of the intellect, and 5) the sheath of blissfulness.

"The first sheath is simply our body, and the second is life energy which keeps our body alive. The third sheath is a part of our mental function which enables us to register incoming data as our memory. The fourth sheath is a higher part of our mind which can make judgments about right/wrong, beautiful/ugly, etc. The last sheath is the state of consciousness which we may access when we are having a dreamless sleep.

"In the Guhenian system, these five sheaths are equated to 'five levels of consciousness', and if this equation turns out relevant, then it will become much easier for us to see that different views of the levels of consciousness proposed by a number of spiritual people of different schools (for instance, Theosophy talks about 'seven bodies', etc.) are in fact nothing but variations of this fundamental concept proposed by Vedanta.

"Further, Vedanta claims that our real self is not even on the level of the fifth sheath (the sheath of blissfulness), but is something which transcends all of these five sheaths(!).

"Still further, this something, which is called Atman in Sanskrit, is, according to ancient great masters like Shankaracharya, nothing but Brahman, i.e., the transcendental 'God' who governs the whole universe. This non-dualistic (monistic) model of the world is the core teaching of Advaita Vedanta of Shankaracharya."

Copyright (c)2000, by Guhen Kitaoka. All rights reserved internationally.