(Robert Anton Wilson’s introduction to Monsters and Magical Sticks: There’s No Such Thing As Hypnosis by Steven Heller, Ph.D. and Terry Steele.)

Nothing is.
Nothing becomes.
Nothing is not.
— Aleister Crowley, The Book of Lies

Although I have been using a form of “hypnosis” for more than fifteen years now, I found this book by Steven Heller and Terry Lee Steele not only illuminating, but intellectually staggering. It occurs to me that I have never really understood “hypnosis” before.

When I was first taught “hypnosis,” it was called “guided meditation,” and was supposed to be a sort of synthesis of psychoanalysis and Buddhism, bringing one rapidly to the bedrock of consciousness. Then I was taught it all over again, but it was called “astral projection” and was supposed to be literal journeys of some literal “ego” outside the body. By then I was being asked to lead seminars myself, and began including some of these techniques without making any specific claims about them except that they showed some unusual properties of the human mind.

Since I had no degree at the time, if the word “hypnosis” was raised at all, I always said that we were using “guided meditation,” which was only somewhat similar to very mild “hypnosis.” I did not want anybody to think they were going into deep hypnosis, since I was not sure I knew how to handle that.

Well, of course, many people very obviously went into “deep hypnosis” whether I intended it or not, and I learned eventually that I could handle that, and I got a degree and was qualified to mess with people’s minds. But somehow “hypnosis”—whether “mild” or “deep”—always seemed a bit weird to me and I preferred to work with techniques I thought I understood better.

Now I have read Heller and Steele and realize that I am using “hypnosis” all the time, whether I know it or not. But then, it appears that every salesperson, every lawyer, every politician, every cop, and every husband and wife having a quarrel, are using “hypnosis” as well as they know how and the world is, in many respects, a circus with rival gangs of hypnotists trying to hypnotize one another.

Of course, some of this is not entirely new to me. Several years ago, bothered by a set of “allergy” symptoms that puzzled my physician, I was persuaded to try a Christian Science healer. I was healed in one session. The alleged “allergy” has never come back. This was not only gratifying, but also aroused my curiosity, and I began reading a great deal of Christian Science literature. (I even went to their church services a few times, but my allergy to churches seems incurable, and that phase did not last long.) I then began experimenting on myself, using what I understood of Christian Science to heal other ailments when the symptoms did not appear so serious that it was obvious damnfoolery to avoid medical treatment. I found that I could heal quite a few minor conditions in myself, and once or twice in friends. I did not set up shop as a psychic healer or anything of that sort because I seemed to have only minor talent in that field, but I suspect that everybody has as much of that talent as I do, but most people are just afraid to try using it.

What is comical about this little story of my mediocre career in faith healing is that the principles I learned from Mrs. Eddy’s books and her disciples are the same principles you will learn in the following text, but Mrs. Eddy never admitted she was using hypnosis. In fact, one whole chapter of Science and Health is devoted to denouncing hypnosis and hypnotists. Hypnosis, she thought, was the work of the devil (who doesn’t exist) and Christian Science is the work of God (who does exist) and hence hypnosis does not work, but Christian Science does. The Strange Loop in that logic is typical of Christian Science-and of many other systems that use hypnosis without realizing what they are doing. I think you will gain even more insight into why Dr. Heller explains the success of hypnosis by saying, “There is no such thing as hypnosis?” if you pick up a copy of Mrs. Eddy’s Science and Health somewhere and read ten consecutive pages (any ten pages will do, since her style is hologrammic and the meaning is everywhere). After ten pages in Eddyland come back and read a little of Dr. Heller again. You might begin to understand that there literally is no such thing as hypnosis and we are all in deep hypnosis more of the time than we realize.

Since I am a devout believer in synchronicity, I paused while writing these words and picked up another book I happen to be reading at this time to check the Jungian hypothesis that, if I opened it at random, I would find a text that makes the above point even clearer. The book I used for this experiment is The Politics of Irish Freedom, by Gerry Adams who is President of Sinn Fein, a political party widely rumored to be a “front” for the I.R.A. (although Sinn Fein, of course, denies this). This is the passage I found in the ideological exposition of Mr. Adams, who happens to be a member of the British Parliament whether or not he is also a “front” for the Irish Republican Army:

There is no such thing as a neutral language, for language is the means by which culture, the totality of our response to the world we live in, is communicated, and for that reason the Irish language had to be destroyed. When a people have spoken a common language for thousands of years that language reflects their history, sentiments, outlook and philosophy.

Mr. Adams goes on to discuss the bata scoir, which was a stick used in 19th Century schools in Ireland. Each time a child spoke Irish, he or she was hit with the stick, and the stick was then notched to record the number of such offenses. Some would call this cultural imperialism or brainwashing or something like that, but few would call it “hypnosis.”
Nonetheless, the number of Irish speakers in Ireland decreased from nearly 100 percent circa 1800 to around five percent circa 1900 and a whole culture or reality-tunnel died in the process.

There was no bata scoir employed in the United States when I was in my teens, but some similar and more subtle training device was used on the minds of my generation. When I entered high school, the Germans and Japanese were the bad guys in the world, and the Russians were our gallant allies in the war against fascism. By the time I got out of high school, the Russians were the bad guys and the Germans and the Japanese were our gallant allies in the war against communism. Whether you call this conditioning or hypnosis (but there is no such thing as hypnosis…), it worked with the majority of that generation. One reality tunnel was extinguished and a new one was imprinted in its place.

(For some techniques to explore your own reality-tunnels, get my books Prometheus Rising and Quantum Psychology; and for those of you who want to do some self-reprogramming, check out Antero Alli’s Angel Tech: A Modern Shaman’s Guide to Reality Selection, and Christopher Hyatt’s brilliant Undoing Yourself with Energized Meditation. New Falcon Publications will appreciate it and so will I.)

Between 1970 and 1980 I lived in Northern California. Although there are some “redneck” or “moral majority” enclaves even there, in the cities where I lived virtually everybody was some kind of radical—a political radical, a philosophical radical or a radical therapist. Abortion was a civil right. There was no legal gambling anywhere, although I hear that has been liberalized a bit since I left. Bisexuality was a permissible variation and very commonly seen. Science and Eastern mysticism were about to merge in some New Paradigm which would combine the best of both global and brain hemispheres. Socialism, however, was the opinion only of an eccentric minority, and pacifism, although universally respected in our crowd, never had any influence on the national government.

But there is no such thing as hypnosis.

In the last five years, I have lived in Ireland. Abortion is illegal, and even telling a patient where abortions may be obtained in England can cause a doctor to be prosecuted. Gambling on the other hand has been legal as far back as anybody remembers. Bisexuality, if it exists, has only vaguely been heard of, and homosexuality is known to be very offensive to the Deity who invented AIDS to punish the bloody sodomites. Science and Eastern mysticism are hardly known, and the possibility of their joining in synergy arouses the blank stares that you might expect if you said a bicycle and a cow were about to mate and reproduce. On the other hand, two of the five largest political parties are openly socialist (the Labour Party and the Workers Party) and one of those two (Labour) was part of the most recent coalition government; Ireland is surrounded by socialist states all over Europe, and cannot understand why Americans think socialism is diabolical and impossible. As for pacifism, it is written into the constitution and all five major parties are officially pacifist: no legislation contrary to Irish neutrality is ever even introduced into Dad hEriann (the Parliament).

And yet there is no such thing as hypnosis.

There are, around the world, people living in reality-tunnels which cause them to think that both the Californian and the Irish reality-tunnels are insane or perverse. There are nudists and Buddhists and Russian communists and Albanian communists and Norse socialists and French existentialists and Samoan shamans and New York Jewish intellectuals and all of them know, for sure, that they happen to have the one correct reality-tunnel.

And yet there is no such thing as hypnosis.

Christian Science works by Faith in God. Political and religious differences are caused by indoctrination or some mysterious process called “brainwashing.” All that “astral projection” I mentioned earlier just shows that occultists are very neurotic people easily prone to hallucinations.

In Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer, Dr. John Lilly points out in three sentences something that is totally obvious once stated, and yet will totally revolutionize your world once you begin to really understand it:

In the Province of the mind, what is believed true is true or becomes true, within limits to be found experimentally and experientially. These limits are further beliefs to be transcended. In the province of the mind there are no limits.

Timothy Leary used to say it even more simply, back in the 1960s: You can be anything you want to be, this time around.

It is hard to believe that a whole culture could be destroyed when the Irish language was destroyed, and yet that happened. It is hard to believe that an allergy can go away when a Christian Science practitioner says it is gone, and yet that happened. It is hard to believe that there is no such thing as hypnosis although we are all hypnotizing ourselves and one another all the time, and yet that is what is happening every day and why “we” are afraid that “we” are about to blow ourselves to hell with nuclear bombs.

A neighbor once came to Nasrudin, the great Sufi sage or swindler (is there a difference?). “Can I borrow some flour?” he asked. “I’d like to loan it to you,” Nasrudin said, “but unfortunately I have it drying on the clothesline right now.”

“But,” the man protested, “how can you dry flour on a clothesline?”

“It’s easy when you don’t want to loan any,” Nasrudin replied.

If you don’t understand that story and wonder how even a Sufi can dry flour on a clothesline, read the following pages carefully. It will all be clear when you finish. Then go read those ten pages from Mrs. Eddy. If it is still not clear that there are no limits in the province of the mind, get a copy of Phil Laut’s book, Money Is My Friend, which tells you how to become rich and stop worrying about money. Analyze what the Laut system has in common with this book and Christian Science. If you are still puzzled, think about all this very deeply and slowly one more time and then turn on the television at the time when all the channels have their commercial breaks. You will soon see how easy it is to dry flour on a clothesline. You might even see who creates the clothesline that makes such marvels possible.

Robert Anton Wilson
Dublin, Ireland
23 January 1987