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Do You NLP?    

Do You NLP?

It can take decades before “the latest craze” from the USA reaches us here in Israel but something called NLP is here now and everybody’s talking about it...


It can take decades before “the latest craze” from the US reaches us here in Israel but something called NLP is here now and everybody’s talking about it.  Everybody and his brother are running off to take NLP workshops like birds flying into a cage.  But what’s the trap?


The trap is that these people are looking for “inner peace” “personal growth” or to find an answer to their financial woes by becoming a “certified NLP practitioner” but that’s not what they are finding.


NLP humbly stands for “Neuro-linguistic Programing” and it’s been around for decades in the US. I studied NLP in the 70’s when it was the latest avant-garde way to “program” people into changing their behavior. Everybody was getting into NLP back then, not just therapists. Theater people, business people, construction workers - you name it. Tony Robbins, the multi-billionaire motivational speaker saw the huge potential of NLP to “fill” the void in people’s lives and made a fortune using it.  I remember hearing about Tony Robbins at the NLP institute in Manhattan before anybody knew who he was.


NLP had great appeal on three levels. The “neuro” alludes to the neurology of the brain (as if NLP practitioners were experts in brain neurology).  The term “neuro” plays into the unwary consumers idol worship of the “science of the mind” and of a “technology” of mind that can manipulate the mind (hopefully for the best).


The second part of NLP is the “L” which stands for “linguistic”(a sophisticated way of saying “language”).  The term “linguistic” brings to mind the “scientifically” based special use of language that the “benevolent” guru-practitioner uses to influence and persuade his client to change.


The third part of NLP is the “P” - that’s the programming part which is another brilliant allusion – this time to computer technology. The “P” appeals to the deep subconscious wish of the person in pain to have someone simply reach in to his brain and program the deepest inner point of his soul’s agony as quickly and easily as you would program a computer, a machine!


NLP is open to the public and it is completely un-regulated. That means its practitioners don’t  need a professional license to operate, just a piece of paper from a “qualified” NLP institute. NLP was never accepted by mainstream psychology because it is not based on any reliable or verifiable research.  My own first NLP trainer drove a truck and practiced NLP on the side. I don’t know how much he knew about neurology, linguistics or computer science but he sure was a nice guy.


I am speaking about this from the depth of my heart because it pains me. Without the Torah as the foundation and the source of our wisdom, all the workshops and courses that teach people how to relax and find “happiness” and “success” will simply not work. It is an illusion which has been brought to us by non-Jews and non-Jewish sources. But we are the holy Jewish nation whose feet stood at Mount Sinai - when we want to find something we must only look for it in our holy Torah that we received from G-d.


The Torah’s term for tranquility and peace of mind is called yishuv ha’da’as but that’s not an exact translation.  Since the words of our sages are extremely deep we need to study them in order to understand what our Sages really meant to teach us. The literal translation of yishuv ha’da’as is “settling of the knowledge.” Yishuv means “settling,” and ha’da’as means “the knowledge.” What our sages are telling us is that there are two things that a person who wants mental composure must do. The first thing that he must do before he can “settle” his mind is have “knowledge” from the Torah about how to do that. He’s not going to be able to settle his mind by staring into space somewhere in India or by listening to music, looking at beautiful scenes and smelling incense. No, the Torah says that the settling of the mind must be connected to something called ha’as’as which is the knowledge of the Torah.


When people go to an ordained Rabbi, a Rav, for example Rabbi Brody, and they ask the Rabbi a question about some point of Torah Law, what they receive back from the Rabbi is called da’as Torah. The Rabbi answers questions based on his knowledge of the Torah and that’s all. The reason people ask a Rabbinical scholar a question about how to keep Shabbos or Passover is because they want to do it the right way – they want an answer that they can depend upon that is derived only from the knowledge-base of the Torah itself - and that’s what they get.


Similarly, people who are trying to “settle” themselves down from the stresses of life cannot do it right unless they first have the right da’as – the right knowledge.  Without the “knowledge” they may have beautiful homes in the countryside but they are never going to get rid of that gnawing anxiety that just doesn’t quit.  First they must have the “knowledge” and only then can they learn to relax. If there is no knowledge then there is nothing to relax.


Everyone is searching for a joyful, meaningful life. Everyone would like to develop their potential for growth and lead calm, secure and successful lives. The many courses and workshops that are available are trying to fill in this void. Their intentions may be good, but their actions are not good.


NLP techniques can be useful and beneficial when they are combined with Torah knowledge, but by themselves they are dangerous because they are taking Jewish people further away from the Torah and from Hashem.


Consumer beware: As I said, I was trained in NLP and had my own “NLP therapy” years ago. I was very serious about it at the time.  I got partial results that wouldn’t last and so I kept going back for more. I was led to think that there was something wrong with me because I wasn’t “doing it right” or not “practicing” it enough – but that wasn’t the truth. The truth is that NLP cannot heal the soul of a Jewish person because it is not connected to the root and the source of the only medicine that can heal our souls - our holy Torah.


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