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Avatar Manual for the Mind

by Isa Lüerssen

The Journey of Exploration

We can stay fit and healthy through eating nutritious food, exercising the body regularly and stimulating the mind. But if we don't thoroughly renovate the architecture of our beliefs from time to time we become fixed in old patterns and habitual behaviours, which for the most part were adopted by indoctrination.

We only can experience what we believe possible. And this belief in our possibilities is not destined by fate, it is our own creative achievement.


"Imagine enrolling on a course where the study materials consist of your own consciousness. We provide navigational tools, a blank map and emotional support. It's your exploration; you have to bring your own terrain. The purpose is to assist you in returning to the level of consciousness at which you are the knowing creative source of your own beliefs. Along the way you are going to learn that what you believe is not nearly as important as knowing how you believe. In this case, understanding the container is more important that understanding the contents. Empty the contents! Marvel at the craft that creates the bowl. Creative source is an effortless state of being. Don't confuse it with an attitude or identity that may be on automatic and seem effortless. This state is effortless, accepting and undefined. (Desiring and resisting are efforts. Accepting and appreciating are effortless). From this state of being, you can experience anything and within extremely broad limits (perhaps boundless) change it as you decide. This is the state of being that we call Avatar®, and we have found a very simple and very effective procedure for achieving this state. It can be done in a matter of days when presented under the guidance of an experienced master".

This is how Harry Palmer, author of Avatar® materials, presents his method. In his book "Living Deliberately" he vividly describes how during decades of study and investigation of consciousness the visionary ideas behind the Avatar® materials incubated in his mind and when his relentless research finally lead to his personal discovery of enlightenment, the Avatar® course was born. Since its release in 1987 the nine day course has been translated into 16 languages, is available in over 16 countries and has transformed the lives of tens of thousands of people all over the world. What is it about this course that sets it apart from so many other self evolvement programs available today? And what is it about the mind that needs addressing if we want to experience real change?

One could compare the mind to a house, filled with everything we ever came across that seemed to be useful or valuable at the time. All rooms are full of stuff including attic and basement. As time passes the free space in the house gets smaller and smaller, yes, there are even whole areas which aren't accessible at all any more and others which we avoid altogether because they are frightening or sinister. Finally we can only move around on very narrow tracks, there seem to be obstacles everywhere, we feel utterly restricted, life is getting more and more difficult, and our joy and our freedom are lost. Who in a situation like that wouldn't have the strong desire to clear out all unnecessary stuff, to deeply clean the house and to free themselves of anything useless or obstructing?


But when it comes to our mind the idea of such a clearing out and tidying up operation is more likely to scare us off than to inspire us. To reorgenize the hard disk or tidy up the house - okay. To deep clean the house of our mind? - for heaven's sake, no! We immediately have visions of brainwashing operations in Chinese re-education camps or in the secret chambers of dangerous cults, where people are turned into helpless tools of unscrupulous power-mongers.

Why is it that the necessity to wash our bodies regularly is widely accepted, the idea however of washing our brains on a regular basis is frightening people to death? Isn't our brain as much in need to be kept clean as our body? In the communication age where total information overload is an every day occurrence the question of how we can clear out unnecessary and unhelpful data from our memory banks becomes of utmost importance. Wouldn't it seem that a careful investigation into the contents of our own consciousness regarding their usefulness for our goals and our life purpose would be the best use we can make of our freedom and our responsibility?

Deepak Chopra once said in a lecture: "It is estimated that the average human thinks about 60,000 thoughts a day - this is not surprising. What is disconcerting is that 95% of the thoughts you have today are the ones you had yesterday and the day before and the day before". Which means that if I don't learn how to consciously take control of my own mind and begin to make profound changes in the default patterns of my thinking, the old transparent beliefs will govern my life.


The fruits of our beliefs

If you have ever meditated you know how thoughts can go around in circles. Where do they come from? Are they the children of our beliefs? Harry Palmer compares them to seeds maturing in the seed pods of our beliefs. When the winds of time or the events of life knock these pods if only slightly, thoughts get released and then float through our consciousness.
This is why every time we want to do or achieve something extraordinary our deeply held beliefs about our limitations that we may not even be aware of produce corresponding thoughts like: "I can't do it", "Its too difficult for me", "I don't deserve it", etc.

Many new workshops and methods were developed especially since the sixties in order to alleviate or eliminate our constant feelings of unworthiness, nagging self doubts, the overall dissatisfaction with ourselves and the world, our hopelessness, depression, stress, relationship problems, psychosomatic ailments, inability to love etc. Countless individual and group therapies have as their declared goal to help people find peace and reattain a state of harmony within themselves.

Unfortunately, the success of many of these approaches to wholeness and well being is often short lived, and the euphoria of the newly found happiness and freedom - if experienced at all - quickly evaporates. Sometimes however a certain relief is felt, a change in perspective, a greater acceptance of what is.
What determines whether the desired improvement or transformation takes place or not? People may have found their Inner Child, let out the Primal Scream, visited all their Past Lives, breathed themselves back to birth or conception, released all hatred against their mother by beating a cushion with a baseball bat for hours, given expression to their Inner Voices, cried, laughed, talked, meditated, stayed in silence for weeks, danced and had incredible experiences within themselves and with others. And they do feel better than before and yet ....

What is the most important ingredient needed to make sure that a method or therapy succeeds in really transforming a person's life?

It is a shift in the viewpoint held by a person about what they experienced and who they are. What does that mean? It means that while I look at my past and my present life from a victim's point of view and try to make changes by addressing my problems from that perspective, I actually magnify the problems and give them more and more importance. I have met people whose attention is so fixated on one admittedly horrible event in their life that they have built their whole identity around that incident: "I am that person that got violated by the age of seven". And having made this event the focus of their attention during years of therapy and group process hasn't helped at all, on the contrary, it has locked them even more into that very limiting self image.

So the first step that needs to be taken is to connect with a larger perspective, with a me that is not at the effect of the world or ones own mind but experiences itself as source of all experiences. A me that is able to expand out into pure awareness, into that field which is the continuum of all possible energy and information states from where we structure those forces that ultimately express themselves as matter. And from this space we can look at our own consciousness, willingly take total responsibility for its contents, and make the changes we want to make by having a close look at the belief structures we adopted and which in turn shape our lives. Then we can investigate and ask ourselves whether those beliefs (concepts, opinions, fixed ideas, conclusions, perspectives) are suitable for creating fulfilment and freedom in our lives, or if they keep us bound and limited.

Someone once said: "It is not the unknown which we need to fear, it's the known we should be worried about. The known is the rigid patterns of our past conditioning. It keeps us confined into the same rigid behavioural patterns. The unknown is that field of infinite possibility, that field of pure potentiality that we really are."

Some times ago an experiment was carried out in the United States, where small tape recorders were tied around three year old's necks which recorded everything that was being said to them. The shocking result was that more than 70% of what was said to them were either limitations like: "You can't do that", "You mustn't do that" or they were criticised for what they were doing. What kind of beliefs is a child going to adopt when it receives these kind of messages all the time? And does it come as a surprise if these children later in life are constantly troubled by feelings of worthlessness or inadequacy? What were the messages we received and eventually appropriated that still keep the tape recorder going in our mind about who we are, what our place in the world is, what we can and cannot do, and what we should think of other people and the world?


Ageing through belief?

Our beliefs not only determine the state of our psyche and our emotions, they affect the body as well. We only have to look at the different expressions of ageing in various cultures to see that very clearly. When an American university investigated the life conditions of cultures, where people stay very fit even in old age, where centenarians still swim in cold rivers and ride horse bare back, they found that these cultures had a completely different basic attitude towards ageing than the one we are used to. They believe in these cultures that with ageing people are getting better and wiser and more understanding. Status and prestige grow with advancing age. Younger people are looking up to them, often even envying them. Old age is a period of life one looks forward to, where one still fully participates in social life. Beliefs about a connection between old age and disease don't exist.

If we compare these beliefs with what is believed about ageing in our society the prospect of getting older without having the ability to change one's beliefs is not such a good look if not downright terrifying.
Let me give you another example of how far reaching the effect of our beliefs on the ageing process is: In the mid eighties Stanford University conducted an experiment. They randomly selected a group of septuagenarians and brought them into an environment that was totally designed like the fifties. The only instruction given to them was to be as they were thirty years ago. Newspapers and magazines at hand were from that time period, one discussed Khrushchev, watched movies like "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", listened to music from this time etc. Before the start and at the end of the experiment body size, muscle power, length of fingers, strength of grip, blood pressure and many other readings were taken. The amazing result was that the ageing process actually started to reverse even after such a short time period. Finger length, body size, grip strength and muscle density increased, blood pressure stabilised. People who had hardly been able to dress or eat by themselves, suddenly declined all help and moved effortlessly. Many felt so full of energy that they wanted to go dancing. They had lively discussions until late into the night and felt very alive. And all only that because they temporarily had adopted the belief to be thirty years younger. Of course when another set of readings was taken a couple of weeks after the experiment, most people had, back in their old environment, gone back to how they had been before.

So what seems important here is to develop or recover the ability to manage and take charge of that brilliant and incredibly powerful tool we call our mind, rather than allowing it and its old programs to control us. Unlike even the most simple kitchen utensil, this complex mechanism didn't come with a manual. As a result we never learned to use it appropriately, it took over our lives and turned us into the victims of programs which didn't even consciously choose.


Transparent Beliefs

A first step in the direction of reappropriating our own mind would be to recognise and uncover the beliefs that are at the bottom of any experience we don't prefer. The difficulty here is the fact that we often are totally unaware of many of our deepest and most limiting beliefs. We have forgotten them. They have become transparent to us. They act like spectacles which shape the way we see reality without our being aware of wearing them. Or like a set of filters which colour our perception of the world and of ourselves and determine how we interpret, evaluate, judge and experience what we encounter in life, not knowing that they are there.

Here are a few examples of such beliefs that limit their bearer by first restricting his or her perception and then as a consequence his or her actions and beingness.

"It is difficult for me to change" "I am a victim of circumstances which I cannot control" "My strength, my health and my power will diminish with advancing age"
"It wouldn't work for me"
"Some things can't be changed"
"This is the way it is"
"I can't change because my personality and my character were shaped in childhood" "I can never do what I really want to do"
"Life is hard"
"It is difficult to make money"
"Life means suffering"

Harry Palmer says: A belief is transparent when you are operating through the belief without noticing it. Transparent beliefs are seldom helpful and, in fact, can be fatally debilitating. Most are self-sabotaging, adopted in a moment when you were something less than rational.
The first impression you have of a transparent belief is that it is unquestionably true. That's just the way life is. That's the way I am. Here's the proof! But then something funny happens: you discover that the proof for holding the belief is actually produced by the belief itself. A pattern begins to unfold."


Affirmations and their adversaries

Once we have understood that our beliefs lead with reliable regularity to experiences that match them, and the accumulated evidence in turn strengthens the beliefs - once we have understood that, why don't we just change them?
After all, this has been known for some time, at least since "positive thinking" has become a household word, and millions of people have tried more or less successfully to replace their outdated, no longer used beliefs with new, better, i.e. positive ones. Haven't we all tried it at least once and taped a piece of paper onto the mirror or the fridge stating something like: Every day in every way I am feeling better and better" and repeated it diligently for at least a couple of weeks? Did anything really change? Probably not. What actually happened is that with every repetition of that affirmation we simultaneously brought up and reaffirmed our doubts and beliefs opposing the affirmation. Of course we would never put a sticker on the wall stating something we already believe, like: I know how to ride a bike", or would we? And life is always going to be a reflection of what we really believe, not what we pretend or would like to believe.


Hungry Gods

What comes first, belief or experience? Harry Palmer asks this question in his book, "ReSurfacing" and writes: "Consider this question: "Are my beliefs shaped by my experiences, or do I experience what I believe?"
"If we consider those beliefs that arise as a result of our experience with the universe, e.g. because of so-and-so I believe, then we are talking about survival. We are talking about our ability to adapt to the way things are. This is defensive living.
"But this leads to another question: Who created things the way they are? Now we are opening the stage to hungry gods - gods who have created nothing better to do than to test man, seducer gods who bait their traps with temptation and create creatures who struggle to resist. Is this reasonable or is there another possibility? Perhaps we create the things the way they are, descend into our own creations and then forget the way home.
"The penalty for accepting the viewpoint that our experience with the world is the source of our beliefs is that we become creatures burdened with limitation and surrounded by challenges to survive. So here we are, scurrying around trying to decide which consequences are going to kill us and what we might do to survive a while longer. Then without warning, some bodhisattva, an Avatar®, walks through our lives and reshapes reality by such pure acts of faith that somewhere deep inside it all, in a place behind who we thought we were, a new "I" awakens.

"Things look different from that place, clearer, less threatening. The attitude changes from sufferer to explorer. We start to make connections, to see patterns.
Are my experiences affected by what I believe? At first people are suspicious of such questions. Somehow they reshuffle the deck. It seems too easy. Then curiosity causes them to look a little closer. Yes, believing certain things creates standards against which they evaluate experience. That's true; they believe in certain moral values. This is good and that is bad. And yes, sometimes moral values change, and it is possible that people could then enjoy some things that they don't enjoy now. Of course, this is just idle speculation. "But it does seem that how one experiences the universe may have as much to do with what one believes as it has to do with what is happening".


Uncovering the obstacles

"Transparent beliefs are discovered by tricking yourself into expressing them and then stepping back and looking at what you said. Transparent beliefs are often hidden under the desire to be right, so finding a transparent belief requires a degree of vulnerability".

Harry Palmer designed a very practical method to enable a person to uncover his or her transparent beliefs, which can be found in his book, "ReSurfacing".


Step 1:

Ask yourself: "What would I like to change?" (Pinpoint a specific situation you would like to change, like for example your fear of talking to people you don't know).


Step 2:
Once the situation has been pinpointed you look for the beliefs that created that situation and for the experiences that back these beliefs and provide you with the evidence that these beliefs are true by asking:
(a) What belief might someone have to experience this (situation)? (To answer this question it is helpful to imagine another person, fictitious or real who is experiencing such a situation).
(b) How do you prove that belief is true? (Here you find experiences in your own life proving the existence of that belief).
(c) What other belief might someone have in order to experience that (situation)
(d) How do you prove that belief is true?



The situation I would really like to change is: "I never really know what I want".
Question (a): What belief might someone have to experience that they never really know what they want?
Answer: "What they want doesn't exist."
Question (b): "How do you prove that belief is true?"
Answer: "My mother always told me that my desires are impossible to fulfil."
Question (c): What other belief might someone have to experience that they never really know what they want?
Answer: "They could believe that it is dangerous to exercise their will."
Question (d): "How do you prove that belief is true?"
Answer: "I have experienced that. I often got punished for being 'wilful". Or: "Every time I just do what I want to to get into trouble!" and so on.
(a) and (d) are alternately addressed until you have a realisation.