"All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become." Gautham Buddha
Many turns ago in The Old Game of Life (TOGOL for short), I was a student at one of England's rather well known universities and found myself on yet another night out with a small group of friends. On this particular evening we had decided to delay the usual drinking until unable to speak and go to see a Stage Hypnotist who was performing in one of the University's on-campus venues.
The hypnotist started by going through a few exercises with the entire audience. He explained that these were to find out which members of the audience were 'easily suggestible', as those would be the best subjects to invite up on stage for the show. For example, he asked us all to put our hands together in a prayer position in front of our chests, and then he made the suggestion that they were glued together and could not be prized apart. He then asked the entire audience to try to prize apart their hands. After saying something to undo the glued together suggestion, he then asked the audience members to raise their hands if they had had any difficulty prizing apart their hands. For me and most of my friends, the suggestion had no effect whatsoever. We all pulled apart our hands with the usual ease. But one particular friend, who for the purposes of this story will be called Bertie, raised his hand to indicate that he had indeed been unable to part his hands. A short time later he found himself invited up onto the stage.
The evening went on and the hypnotist entertained those left in the audience by getting those on the stage to unwittingly embarrass themselves in various ways. I won't bother going into detail, but one particular part of the proceedings was remarkably intriguing and the reason for recounting this tale.
Some time during the show, the hypnotist put our friend 'under' and suggested to him that when he went to the pub after the show, he would be unable to tell the difference between soft drinks and alcoholic drinks, and even if he drank a soft drink, he would feel as though each drink had the equivalent alcohol content of four pints of beer or 8 shots of whisky. He then called out to the audience and asked whether any of Bertie's friends were present. Six of us raised our hands.
"Good!" said the hypnotist. He then went on to explain to us and the rest of the audience that it was very important that we remember the special phrase that would snap our friend out of this hypnotic suggestion. The phrase, if I remember correctly (which is by no means guaranteed given the amount of alcohol consumed that night) was 'purple frog'. Then he 'woke up' Bertie and asked him if he remembered anything about what had just happened. Bertie said yes, but then went on to describe what had happened just before the hypnotist put him 'under', which was that a rather attractive blond girl had been crawling about the stage on all fours yapping like a poodle and then trying to hump one of the other subjects' leg. The girl in question looked incredulous as she heard him describe this.
The show wound up and we all made our way to the Student Union Bar, where us poor unfortunate undergraduates could purchase beer and other intoxicating substances for a little under half the price that it was sold for in most regular pubs. It really was tough being a student. I don't think any of us really believed that the trick the hypnotist had sent us away with would work. But we thought we would try it out anyway. I got the first round of drinks in, which was six pints of bitter and a large Coke. Bertie had asked for a pint of bitter just like everyone else, but we decided to see if the hypnosis had taken effect. Sure enough, when I handed Bertie his Coke, he did not seem to mind at all, and he took a long sip, even wiping a little bit of beer foam that was not there from his top lip. He then let out the customary long gasp like a man crossing the desert taking his first sip at the watering hole.
I raised my eyebrows at a couple of my friends and they did the same in return. Smirks began to appear on several faces around the circle. At the end of his first glass of Coke, Bertie had begun to slur his speech and had become noticably more animated. By the time he had finished his third, his behaviour was very erratic indeed and we all bagan to wonder whether it was time for the purple frog. It was tempting to let it go on a little longer, but to do so would probably have led to Bertie either getting hurt or arrested. So eventually three of us said the phrase 'purple frog' in unison and Bertie immediately returned to his normal sober self, completely unaware that anything untoward had happened, and wondering why the girl with the enormous breasts at the far end of the bar was scowling at him like that.
Don't ask me how or why a girl had left her enormous breasts at the far end of the bar. I'm not doing that kind of joke today.
So why is this tale of days of yore being recounted after all these years?
There seem to be lots of 'self-help' systems about these days which are essentially forms of hypnosis or self-hypnosis. From those whose practitioners freely admit they are using hypnotherapy, to others like positive thinking techniques, affirmations, mantra and the Law of Attraction. Just like the audience at the show, it seems that there are a certain percentage of the population that are 'suggestible' to such techniques and others are not.
So does it matter? Suppose, for instance, someone is absolutely convinced that they are a rich and successful person, even though to an onlooker this may seem to not be the case at all, does it matter either way? Does the idea of going through life in a hypnotic trance sound appealing? Is there anything other than various different hypnotic trances? Is it ever possible to know which account of 'what is happening' is the 'real account' and which ones are the result of suggestion or auto-suggestion. If so, how is it possible to tell?
As usual, I am not going to bother answering the questions for you. Otherwise I may be accused of trying to bring you all under my hypnotic spell.
So long for now willing subjects, oops, I mean wonderful free-thinking TOGOL players!
"Great minds kept telling me 'who you are is the sum of your thoughts'. I had no wish to be a bunch of thoughts, so I just stopped adding them up." Swifty Flame-Anderson
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