From Natural Man to Walking in the Spirit

By: Guest
May 29, 2013

This is the first post from our frequent commenter Howard.

How do we transform from the Natural Man?

How do we transform from the Natural Man?

Joseph declared, “Mankind [is] naturally selfish, ambitious, and striving to excel one above another.”  We need look no further than the best economic system in the world to see that this is true.  Without question Capitalism is King, socialism is dead!  But why?  Because Capitalism efficiently rewards greed!  As a result much of the world agrees to a system that rewards adults who haven’t emotionally progressed much beyond that of a toddler tightly grasping a toy in their hand raising it in the air while defiantly declaring “mine!”.  Why?  Because given humankind’s immature state this is the best way to efficiently *produce* an abundance of great goods and services.  Of course this system is far less good at *distributing* those goods and services resulting in large imbalances that cannot be morally defended without disguising the greed inherent in the defense attempt.

Clearly we are naturally selfish, possessive and jealous and most of us crave and lust for more at the expense of quality time we could be spending with loved ones or increasing our connection with God.  Because we inhabit animal bodies our sense of fight or flight is greatly exaggerated given the relative safety of living in most developed nations.  So instead of animals relaxing in the wild unless hunting or being hunted we live under the chronic stress of a work a day world spending as fast as we earn and sometimes faster, over time it prematurely ages us and makes us sick.  We worship our craving by shopping for the objects of our lust in glorified temples of spending.  Our craving and lust drives us to mortgage up our lives and we spend most of it on the hamster wheel of stress paying off our lustful choices.  Add to this genetically inherited dysfunctions and compulsions and fetishes created in childhood and you have the current state of the natural man!

So how do we *put off* the natural man?  The church doesn’t know and as a result they make no attempt to teach it.  Instead they teach perfecting the natural man by restricting undesirable behavior and creating admirable behavioral habits which in the end is impossible for most people to actually do.  A level of material lust is accepted by the church even embraced as long as it is disguised as some form of provident living or with a wink and nod as it approaches a prosperity gospel philosophy.  The natural man simply cannot be perfected by will power, discipline or obedience unless one doesn’t have much natural man to perfect.

If you were raised in a relatively healthy family with a lot of love you are one of the lucky few who have a much better chance of appearing to perfect the natural man LDS style than the majority who weren’t and chances are you don’t understand dysfunction or why obedience and becoming a little more disciplined like you just doesn’t work for them.  Why?  Because compulsions easily overpower habits!  So in spite of good intentions we repeat the behaviors we wish to change and stress exacerbates this tendency increasing our failures.  Intervention in some form are required to change this.  Interestingly deep repentance and regressive and insightful psychotherapy are very similar processes.  I’ve been through both, I spent 18 months in daily deep and thorough repentance guided by the Spirit and 4 years in weekly psychotherapy with confrontational therapists.  They are both a process of introspection and remembering what we once blocked from our consciousness as an ego defense because our actions didn’t match the image of who we want to be or believe ourselves to be, so we in-authentically deny and block the truth of who we really are to ourselves and present that fictional character to others.  Being psychologically blocked and being “locked in our sins” are largely the same problem!

Deep repentance and/or psychotherapy prepares us for a more efficient spiritual connection with the divine because God speaks to us through our subconscious (our spirits?) not through our ego created and ego contaminated personas.  An efficient spiritual path is created by raising the subconscious to the conscious level while resolving the conflicts that this process uncovers along the way.  By doing so we become authentic and we are removing our ego defense filter that blocks, muddies and mutes the Spirit’s signal.  By removing these ego created psychological blocks we improve our access to that portion of our minds we once thought to be subconscious.  This improves the signal to noise ratio of the Spirit’s message making it much clearer and easier to hear and receive.  Creating new habits admirable or not are in some ways the opposite of this because it adds new blocks (habits) on top of old blocks thickening our filters.  Interestingly dysfunctional people will be more motivated to take this path than the happy and healthy because they have more to gain from it allowing some dysfunctional people to leap frog functional people when it comes to spirituality.  So in this way the last shall be first, and the first last.

I believe the church once had a powerful process to refine much of the natural man out of it’s people over several generations; it’s called *sharing*.  Isn’t that what we teach selfish 3 year olds?  But it was introduced in the now failed forms of Plural Marriage and the Law of Consecration.  Sharing your stuff and especially sharing your spouse sexually with another by divine directive would provide great opportunity and motivation for the faithful to eventually get over themselves and work through their selfishness, possessiveness and jealousy!

Meditation completes the journey from natural man to walking in the Spirit.  Meditation is the discipline of idling the mind allowing you to better hear your internal process, your intuition and divine messages.  Be still and know that I am God.  By engaging the Spirit in your normal way you then meditate on his signal amplifying and clarifying it.  By staying with his signal as long as you can you gain experience identifying and hearing him.


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39 Responses to From Natural Man to Walking in the Spirit

  1. Will on May 29, 2013 at 8:24 AM


    Let’s remember capitalism created the greatest force for freedom the world has ever known – the United States of America. Without the US the world would not have survived WWI, WWII or the evils of communism, fascism and radical Islam. What’s more, this capitalist (at least it started out that way) country was inspired and setup by God (D&C 101). As a result of this capitalist country, freedom has been able to flourish and the Gospel was able to be restored and preached to the world.

    In contrast, the collectivist societies you reference have translated into hundreds of millions of dead people, mostly by their own leader. Look at the leaders that resulted from those societies that tried to create an equitable distribution of wealth – Castro, Mussolini, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin, Lenin, Chavez and the like. Look at the collapse of the cradle to grave societies in Europe – Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal and others right around the corner. Look at what has happened to the US as we have copied the European model — we are bankrupt.

    It seems the spirit has been with capitalism, not collectivism.

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  2. Howard on May 29, 2013 at 8:53 AM

    Well said Will! Yes I agree capitalism is the undisputed global winner and the best system given the current maturity level of humankind. Of course Mormons have been given a different divinely inspired system of communal ownership, distribution and sharing excess via. the Law of Consecration but in practice most were too individualistic and not selfless enough to make it work. The point is I think we have a long way to go emotionally to become what God apparently wants us to be.

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  3. FireTag on May 29, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    “Sharing” in either of the forms you mentioned can really be effective in moving people beyond the “natural man” only if it can happen in a single generation or less, and only if it is designed in a way that moves people beyond the “natural woman”, too.

    I’ve found learning to just share with my wife is a pretty full-time job. And I count the progress in learning to sacrifice myself for a larger community when I hear the Spirit telling me to do so as occurring over decades.

    What I hear the Spirit telling me over those decades is to learn to walk away from power over other people and let them have the space to hear how the Spirit bids them grow into the proper (for them) balance of individuality and community.

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  4. Mormon Heretic on May 29, 2013 at 2:42 PM

    via. the Law of Consecration but in practice most were too individualistic and not selfless enough to make it work.

    I know this is the current understanding of how Mormonism evolved, but in reality, it was the capitalist government of the United States that declared war on Consecration and Polygamy in Utah. In reality, the United Order (God’s economy) served the saints quite well. But due to the federal governments attacks on polygamy and the economy of Utah, the government succeeded in beating capitalism into the Mormons. In reality, Brigham Young was quite successful in having the United Order succeed better than the surrounding capitalists in Utah. While the anti-polygamy raids get the most publicity, the U.S. government jailed Mormon business leaders, confiscated church assets, and put a halt to the Perpetual Emigration Fund in order to cripple the Mormons economically–and it worked. Then they forced Mormons to abandon consecration in favor of capitalistic principles, and people like Will seem to be oblivious to this point. God is not a capitalist.

    And let’s not forget what capitalists in the United States government did to the Indians. From their point of view, they might view the U.S. government in a similar way as Pol Pot and others. I’ve heard some Indians refer to what our government did as ethnic cleansing and genocide. It sounds shocking to us, but can we honestly say that the government never attacked our polygamist Mormon ancestors and their economic order?

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  5. Jeff Spector on May 29, 2013 at 3:45 PM


    I can easily agree with the first few paragraphs condemning the capitalist system and it’s inherent flaws in creating a peaceful, equatable world. And I am at a real loss as to why Laterr-day Saints have embraced it with such fervor since Jospeh taught so strongly against it. And as, MH points out, BY also tuaght against it.

    However, that is where you kind of lose me. Repentance, yes, psychotheraphy as a means of achieiving perfection, probably not. The Lord has given us the formula, a broken heart and contrite spirit as the way. Not laying on a couch, pouring out our souls to a paid consultant.

    I realize that therapy is useful in some situations, but I do not agree that it has a role to play outside of what the Savior taught us as the waym to perfection and to return to Him.

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  6. FireTag on May 29, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    Therapy is medicine for the mind just as other things are medicine for the body. I don’t see a conflict here between the Spirit and therapy, but rather a therapy as another tool for the Spirit to use.

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  7. Howard on May 29, 2013 at 5:21 PM

    FireTag #3,
    Yes I agree both gender’s selfishness, possessiveness and jealousy needs to be challenged and it must work within one’s lifetime for them to benefit from it. But our parents can pass traits on to us via “don’t do as I did, do as I say” parenting that is reenforced by the church and it’s teachings so that in a few generations selfless but safe poly relationships might emerge thereby refining the Mormon people to be more Christlike. I’ve heard it proposed that polygyny challenged women and united Order challenged men but Joseph personally practiced polygyny before introducing plural marriage and later he apparently practiced polyandry so perhaps he was planning to introduce both. Bi-gender polygamy would of course challenge both genders. I love your third paragraph, beautiful concept!

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  8. Howard on May 29, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    MH #4,
    Thanks for providing that history, it’s new to me. And thanks for reminding us of Indian genocide. Capitalism can be a very aggressive war making motivation.

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  9. Howard on May 29, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    Jeff Spector #5,
    I appreciate your point. I’m drawing a parallel between deep and thorough repentance and regressive and insightful psychotherapy taken from my own life. I found these to be very similar processes they just have different lingo and both lead well beyond a broken heart and contrite spirit to the mighty change of heart which transcends the natural man by *ending* the underlying craving or compulsion driving the undesirable behaviour rather than bridling or attempting to perfect it. So both repentance deep and thorough enough to result in the mighty change of heart and deep and thorough regressive insightful psychotherapy are capable of *putting off* the natural man but a broken heart and contrite spirit rarely goes far enough to achieve it.

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  10. Howard on May 29, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    FireTag #6
    Well said!

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  11. Hedgehog on May 30, 2013 at 12:56 AM

    Hopefully I can get my comment to post this morning. Some of my points have no been addressed anyway.
    I was going to say polygamy seems a onesided kind of sharing. Why would it be supposed that the United Order wouldn’t challenge women as well as men (#7)? Sounds rather odd to me. My other question was if you had been implying polyandry with the OP comments on plural marriage, what that would mean in terms of family stability for chilren, and also knowledge of biological blood lines for genetic health?
    I like MH’s comments on capitalism, and also FireTag’s #3, particularly the comments on power over others.
    I think professional therapy is out of reach for most people, even if there were enough therapists to deal with everybody. How would you go about incorporating it into religious practice?

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  12. Hedgehog on May 30, 2013 at 12:57 AM

    Well it posted, but that should read ‘now been addressed’, not ‘no’.

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  13. Howard on May 30, 2013 at 6:58 AM

    Admin: There is a problem posting longer than short comments. As a longer comment moves down the page the “Post Comment” button becomes obscured behind the Subscribe section.

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  14. Howard on May 30, 2013 at 7:00 AM

    Hedgehog #11
    …polygamy seems a onesided kind of sharing. If by polygamy you mean polygyny yes, I agree. Why would it be supposed that the United Order wouldn’t challenge women as well as men? Well when this trade off was proposed by others it was assumed at the time United Order was taking place material wealth and even wives belonged to men. But going forward I see Bi-gender polygamy and the Law of Consecration each teaching selflessness to both genders.

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  15. Howard on May 30, 2013 at 7:01 AM

    Hedgehog #11
    if you had been implying polyandry with the OP comments on plural marriage, what that would mean in terms of family stability for chilren, and also knowledge of biological blood lines for genetic health? Good questions! I haven’t given them much thought but today’s birth control would allow for a high degree of father selection and genetic testing could confirm paternity providing the knowledge of biological blood lines. How do you see it affecting family stability for children? Weren’t fathers fairly irrelevant to family stability for children except as a source of money during LDS polygyny polygamy?

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  16. Howard on May 30, 2013 at 7:05 AM

    Hedgehog #11
    I think professional therapy is out of reach for most people, even if there were enough therapists to deal with everybody. How would you go about incorporating it into religious practice? Yes, I would love to it incorporated into religious practice. As we discussed in an earlier thread decontaminating black and white thinking and expanding it to include gray scale nuance can easily be done from the pulpit. Minor to moderate block removal could be accomplished in many people by incorporating it into repentance by adding a few well worded introspective questions to be considered. In fact this is what deep repentance does for sin blocks but fails to touch the root cause because the narrow definition of sin as “bad” behavior rather than innocent craving or compulsion created in childhood.

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  17. Howard on May 30, 2013 at 7:18 AM

    But this gets into a political argument with the more closed minded obedience driven types lacking charity and compassion for the concept that many sinners might be actually be innocent at the root of the issue instead insisting on more discipline and obediance to overcome their “weakness”. This subtle but often prominent view conflicts with the need of the innocent sinner to be seen, accepted and embraced as innocent to encourage and allow the block to be removed. So the insistence upon good bad behavioral obedience produces a tribe with specific desirable behaviors and a few fakers without curing or attempting to cure the underlying cause of undesirable behaviors and it’s created in part through membership self selection which is what is going on as people approach adulthood and choose to leave or stay in the church. More tolerance even acceptance for young adult sexuality might go a long way in membership retention.

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  18. Jeff Spector on May 30, 2013 at 10:53 AM


    I am glad therapy has been useful in your life, however, I think the gospel teachings of Jesus gives us all the tools we need to achieve the same thing. I also think that, for the most port, our Church leaders try to point members in that direction.

    The fact that members blindly follow, disregard the admonition to search it out in their minds and do not put the level of real effort require to put off the natural man is not the fault of the Church or the Savior. It is our problem as individuals to resolve..

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  19. Dara on May 30, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    God never said you could not enjoy the fruits of your labor. Also, the rich think differently. If you tell a poor person that you want to start a business, they typically say why and where will you find the money? It’s too hard! The rich will typically you that you can do it and to go for it.

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  20. Howard on May 30, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    I generally agree with much of your comment however I find the church still has a heavier hand with regard to rote obedience and enforcement than Christ did. I believe less focus on this and more focus on the beatitudes and Joseph’s approach of teaching correct principles so we manage ourselves will create a more Christlike milieu that is also more conducive to personal growth.

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  21. Jeff Spector on May 30, 2013 at 12:39 PM


    I do completely agree with you except I place the responsibility for the heavy hand on members and local leaders rather than the Church. We tend to judge each other harshly and thus members would rather appear to be compliant than not, even if they are “more righteous” in the way they conduct themselves toward others.

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  22. Howard on May 30, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    Well you may be right I do see a transition currently taking place for instance Packer’s last difficult breaths are still dedicated to warning us about too much tolerance old school style while Uchtdorf brilliantly admonishes us not to judge him (others) because he sins differently than we do! But the hard line still expressed today originally came from the Tabernacle pulpit, a different time perhaps but that is why those methods are allowed even embraced and not moderated out the way false doctrine is policed. I believe the the responsibility and the capability to change it rests with firmly the brethren not to just set a new example but through clear direct communication to the unit leaders via letter, Handbook and from the pulpit.

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  23. Jeff Spector on May 30, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    The more we become ministers and less about policing for strict obedience the better we are able emulate the Savior. Based on his behavior as it applied to the common view of the sabbath, it should be more like that.

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  24. Howard on May 30, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    Here is an example of a get tough on transgressions talk given at General Conference by President Kimball: I should like to address a few words to our executive officers, particularly the bishops and stake presidents, who are the “common judges” in Israel. I will read for you the words of the prophets and the President of the Church in an earlier century. President John Taylor is quoted as saying: “Furthermore, I have heard of some Bishops who have been seeking to cover up the iniquities of men; I tell them, in the name of God, they will have to bear them themselves, and meet that judgment; and I tell you that any man who tampers with iniquity, he will have to bear that iniquity, and if any of you want to partake of the sins of men, or uphold them, you will have to bear them. Do you hear it, you Bishops and you Presidents? God will require it at your hands. You are not placed in position to tamper with principles of righteousness, nor to cover up the infamies and corruptions of men.”,/em>

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  25. Howard on May 30, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    I read further from George Q. Cannon, who was also in the First Presidency: “The Spirit of God would undoubtedly be so grieved that it would forsake not only those who are guilty of these acts, but it would withdraw itself from those who would suffer them to be done in our midst unchecked and unrebuked; and from the President of the Church down, throughout the entire ranks of the Priesthood, there would be a loss of the Spirit of God, a withdrawal of His gifts and blessing and His power, because of their not taking the proper measures to check and to expose their iniquity.”

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  26. Howard on May 30, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    Now, brethren, we could quote many others of the Brethren in this same vein. We are concerned that too many times the interviewing leader in his personal sympathies for the transgressor, and in his love perhaps for the family of the transgressor, is inclined to waive the discipline which that transgressor demands. Too often a transgressor is forgiven and all penalties waived when that person should have been disfellowshipped or excommunicated. Too often a sinner is disfellowshipped when he or she should have been excommunicated. Remember that President Taylor said you will have to carry that sin yourself. Are you willing to do it, brethren?

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  27. Howard on May 30, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    Do you remember what was said by the prophet Alma? “Now,” he said, “repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment.” (Alma 42:16.)

    Howard’s editorial comment: never mind that just 9 verses later we read in Alma 42:25 What, do ye suppose that amercy can rob justice? I say unto you, Nay; not one whit. If so, God would cease to be God.

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  28. Howard on May 30, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    Ponder on that for a moment. Have you realized that? There can be no forgiveness without real and total repentance, and there can be no repentance without punishment. This is as eternal as is the soul. One more thought: The president or the bishop makes the determination, and the counselors or the high council accept his determination or reject it. But they do not vote it in, as you would many ordinary things. Please remember these things when somebody comes before you who has broken the laws of God.

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  29. Howard on May 30, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    Jeff I completely agree and support your 23 comment!

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  30. Will on May 30, 2013 at 10:13 PM


    How do you explain D&C 101 and 1 Nephi 13, which clearly state the founding fathers were inspired to create a constitution that promotes capitalism and limited government.

    Both JS and BY failed at setting up the united order, because it is NOT want God intended. He intended the free market economy and the powerful economic engine it created in the US. He needed this powerful engine to establish his gospel and spread it to the world.

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  31. Piperbitner on May 30, 2013 at 11:59 PM

    In his book, Great Basin Kingdom, Leonard Arrington says re the United Order, “…most merchandising was in the hands of non-Mormons because of the stigma attached to ‘profiteering Saints,’ and because of the inability of Mormon traders to refuse credit to their ‘brethren’ and force payment of debts.” Indeed, human frailty, in part, brought the United Order down–whether God intended it or not.

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  32. Hedgehog on May 31, 2013 at 1:12 AM

    #14, Well of course I realise that women were regarded as property, however I don’t think that means they wouldn’t have had some kind of stake in what other property their husbands/fathers owned. There would have been a direct impact on their lives. So I do think women would have been affected by the United Order.
    #15, But today’s more efective birth control and genetic testing were not available to JS… Plus from what I gather, the women themeselves did a lot to earn an income during LDS polygny, and the men often didn’t step up to their apparent responsibilities. I can’t actually see much difference between that and single parents today (who often seem to be demonised in church rhetoric). I’m not sure that these men would have been a good role model for the children.

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  33. Hedgehog on May 31, 2013 at 1:19 AM

    Howard #16, 17
    What introspective questions did you have in mind? Also would this mean more visiting the Bishop to discuss sins – lesser sins included, in RC confessional kind of way, but with therapy instead of being assigned some penance? If so I think we’d need professional clergy with the appropriate training. I can’t see it happening.
    Still I did like Jeffs comment #23 on ministering. and Lynette’s latest post on ZD also has some relevance I think:

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  34. Howard on May 31, 2013 at 6:08 AM

    Will #30,
    9 February 1831, the Lord revealed the law of consecration as the means by which the inequality between the rich and the poor could be removed. These are his words: And behold, thou wilt remember the poor, and consecrate of thy properties for their support that which thou hast to impart unto them, with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken.

    Do you find it mutually exclusive for the US to practice capitalism while the saints practice the law of consecration?

    Piperbitner #31, Interesting tidbit of history! Thanks.

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  35. Howard on May 31, 2013 at 6:28 AM

    I nod to your observations in #32, I’m not sure there is much more to say about it since it’s all speculation. I don’t think it’s practical to turn ecclesiastical interviews into therapy sessions especially given our lay clergy nor would i like to see an increase in those interviews. Today the church turns it’s members outward and busies their lives, activity is revered and created yet the kingdom of God is within us and we are to bee still and know God! Meditation time should be created like family home evening was and the focus should be an internal exploration. Then general introspective questions could be published to used these personal meditation sessions. This wording would be simple but the actual wording is important to get right because statistically it would improve the effectiveness.

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  36. Howard on May 31, 2013 at 6:35 AM

    Maybe along the lines of; Why do i struggle with this? When did my struggle begin? What was going on in my life then? That line of inquiry is repeated and repeated in a meditative trance as a means of accessing our subconscious childhood memories. Once the childhood experience is re-experienced allowing the subconscious memory to become conscious you are freed from the compulsion or craving that drives the undesirable behavior. Just as once the sin acknowledged and is re-experienced raising it from the subconscious to the conscious you are freed from being locked in it.

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  37. Howard on May 31, 2013 at 6:45 AM

    In this way psychotherapy is the same as the repentance process but a bit harder to do because repentance covers age 8 and above and regressive insightful psychotherapy is focused on age 7 and below and the younger the block the more difficult it is to reach and release. Common garden variety neurosis is fairly easily reached with talk therapy because it resides at about age 6 or 7 but blocks at age 3 and below are more difficult because of childhood amnesia and earlier blocks are often per-verbal so those are even trickier to resolve.

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  38. Howard on May 31, 2013 at 8:27 AM

    Btw, if you’re interested in trying introspective self regression, your childhood family photo album can be a great help in refreshing some of your forgotten memories.

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  39. Hedgehog on June 2, 2013 at 2:26 AM

    So you favour personal meditation, and less ecclesiastical interference? I can see that might work. I like the questions.
    I spent a fair bit of of my childhood pouring over pictures of earlier family events, so my memories of the events are quite entangled with memories of looking at the photos and what people said about the events on those occasions.

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