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Question about Eyes and Hypnosis
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 13, 2003 12:28AM

I have noticed that many cult leaders have remarkably vivid, expressive eyes. The other night, while on a Google search I found material for a mail order course on hypnosis/influence enhancement which mentioned, among other things a technique called 'soft eyes' and 'using the power of your gaze'--which immediately made me think of first-person reports I have read concerning the behavior of some controversial gurus.

It is remarkable that the eyes seem to be indicators of radical personality change. The luster of the eyes seem to change, not merely micro-expressions of the persons face.

This comes up not only when one looks at photographs (which, these days can be retouched), but many accounts of influential gurus and cult leaders mention that these people have remarkable eyes and that very often they establish a powerful bond with followers (and prospective recruits) by gazing deeply into the person's eyes. Certain are famous for inducing bliss by gazing into a devotee's eyes. Many otherwise skeptical persons find themselves deeply moved, and one of them, Andrew Harvey, left a promising university career to become a devotee and publicist for Meera.

Andrew Harvey was a publicist for Mother Meera for over 10 years (raved about her in Hidden Journey) and was shattered when Meera (supposedly the manifestation of Uncoditional Love) suddenly ordered Harvey to dump his partner Eryk and then proclaim that Meera had cured him of homosexuality.

Harvey realized Meera was homophobic and caught a lot of hell when he went public and recanted his affiliations with her.

But in his book The Sun at Midnight, Harvey said he was told by a number of people that there were certain very powerful techniques of hypnosis in which a guru gains power by gazing deeply into a person's eyes. And in the book, Harvey alledges that in California, a Tibetan lama casually offered to teach him 'some yogic techniques from the Shaivite tradition that are very effective in helping to acquire disciples' (paraphrase)

Harvey was in the midst of his devotion to Meera and refused the offer, but admits that covertly he felt shaken. Other friends familiar with Asia told him there were techniques of this kind practiced in India and Burma.

Harvey did not want to imagine that Meera might have snared him by using a mere technique; he wanted to believe she was all about love. After realizing Meera was more interested in PR than in love, Harvey began to wonder whether he had, perhaps been subjected to some form of hypnosis when he had visited Meera and that it activated some deep psychological material he carried within himself.

I would like to know whether there is anything in the literature on hypnosis that describes (or explains) why gazing into a person's eyes would have such a powerful effect.

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Question about Eyes and Hypnosis
Posted by: Hope ()
Date: September 13, 2003 05:25AM

"Dr. Robert Hare wrote in his book Without Conscience, that psychopaths often make very intense eye contact, or have unusually piercing eyes. Other researchers have also mentioned the "reptilian gaze" of the psychopath, resembling that of a predator about to consume his or her prey. Victims of the psychopath also often refer to the "laser beam" stare.

Strangely enough, women often confuse this gaze with sexuality, and find it attractive. Many films depicting seductive yet immoral creatures such as vampires, often depict the vampire as having a very strong, psychopathic stare. Some psychologists have compared the psychopath to the vampire, or state that the psychopath has a "vampiric personality" or lifestyle, as well as being parasitic."

from []

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Question about Eyes and Hypnosis
Posted by: VTHokie ()
Date: September 29, 2003 08:46PM

There used to be a local hypnotist who ran commercials when I lived in Winston-Salem NC. During his commercials, he would blink constantly in patterns. Someone explained me that this was a subconscious technique but I don't remember what it means.

However, Joel Osteen (whose Lakewood Church services can be seen on cable TV, maybe BET) does the same thing.

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Question about Eyes and Hypnosis
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 01, 2003 03:43AM

There are concentration exercises taught in yoga in which the student learns to maintain a fixed, blinkless gaze for increasingly lengthy periods of time. I think the exercise may be called 'tratakam'. And I have read that this same exercise is part of the training for magickal practices--magickal ritual involves the use of trancework carried out in a highly disciplined manner by a group. A source where I learned this states that one mark of a magician is his or her ability to 'stare down' others. This is developed through practices such as tratakam.

In his book Living With Kundalini (a classic, and well worth reading) the author, Gopi Krishna, describes various pathological states suffered by persons who strenuously practiced tratakam. A friend of his attempted the exercise and began having dreadful anxiety attacks; the friend had the good sense to give it up. Krishna's father suffered some form of mental breakdown as a result of strenuous, unbalanced yoga practice, and Krishna remembered watching his father gazing fixedly, without blinking, at the flame of an oil lamp. This exercise might, with other practices, have played a role in destabilizing his father.

An ambitious charlatan who had already mastered 'tratakam'--the technique of lengthy, blinkless gazing--would have had no trouble learning these forms of trance induction. And anyone calling himself a guru is like a physician--he or she has privliged access to vulnerable people, and can stage rituals in which he or she can gaze into peoples' eyes.

So it very much looks as though certain forms of powerful trance induction can be done through sustained lengthy gazing, and other methods may involve artful methods of paced blinking.

It is terrifying to think that trustingly looking into someone's eyes may be a plunge into exploitation and danger, rather than true, human companionship.

So it is very possible that some gurus who are famous for producing bliss through prolonged gaze into a disciple's eyes may well being achieving their effects through hypnosis. And some of them may also know how to manipulate subtle energy.

In the West, the assumption is that no one can be charismatic unless he or she is saintly; unfortunately thse tricks can and have been mastered by scoundrels.

A genuine teacher would never pull these stunts.

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Question about Eyes and Hypnosis
Posted by: VTHokie ()
Date: October 01, 2003 08:20PM

In animals, I believe rapid blinking is a sign of aggression. People blink rapidly to stay awake.

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Question about Eyes and Hypnosis
Posted by: kittypaw ()
Date: March 15, 2004 11:23PM

About a year ago, my pre-Landmarkian friend M. and I took a self-empowerment class led by a guy in Brooklyn. She held him in deep admiration. I was somewhat skeptical. I found him smug, and with a weird, constant unblinking stare which implied "I can see right into your soul and all the defenses you construct. I am more evolved than you are."

The class included a few useful concepts, of which some were apparently from Landmark. (He never mentioned Landmark specifically when discussing his background to the class. M. found out because she was talking to him about Landmark and wanted to see what he thought.)

M: They even wanted him to be a Forum leader, but he turned that down to do his own work. He went through ALL their leadership courses. (At this point I was slightly impressed- didn't realize that they dangle the hope for leadership in front of almost everyone.)

M: You know and trust A., right? He wouldn't lead me into anything that would be harmful. And you know me--I would NEVER EVER invite you to do something that would be bad for you...

(I think to myself- I know my friends are human, and they make bad choices from time to time. As Mom said "Just because all your friends jump off a cliff, does that mean you should?")

I was talking about M.'s proselytizing with a mutual friend. It comes down to the difficulty in seeing the same situation from vastly differing points of view.

1-Their point of view: They're trying to share the fundamental transformative experience of their life. (As one said "If I had a piece of the most delicious chocolate cake in the world, and I want to share it with you, what's the problem?")

2-I feel like the impulse to share is fine, but I don't appreciate the coercion. "You'll go to hell" or "-Sigh- I *really* think you could learn a lot from the Forum." -OK-that last is guilt-tripping, not coercion. People can share but if I ask them nicely to shut it, they should.

Blah blah blah. M. and I used to talk every third day or so...I called her since I haven't heard from her in about a week, after she did the Tues. night Advanced Course completion. Hm -coincidence?


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Question about Eyes and Hypnosis
Posted by: Wordgirl ()
Date: March 16, 2004 03:46AM

I hadn't seen this thread before today, but reading it sent a shiver down my spine. The cult I was in (Sahaja Yoga) has a guru (Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, a name which I am now loathe to call her, because she represents none of those 4 words: holy, mother, pure divine) who fits many of the descriptions here to the letter! Reptillian eyes, often heavy lidded, etc. And sometimes her eyes just seemed dull, lacking any kind of sparkle. I now believe she is psychotic and yes, I may have been hypnotized. In any case I was intrigued enough to waste 10 years of my life exploring her destructive cult!

In SY, new recruits are instructed to stare at the flame of a candle placed in front of Mataji's photo. The initiate is supposed to sit on the floor (or a chair), crosslegged with palms held upward on the knees. It's not all the comfortable, but who would dare complain? Then you have to look at that photo. And there is usually slow, trance inducing, Indian music playing in the background. Eventually, the music is turned off and there is quiet for some minutes. Then an audio tape of Mataji talking is played. New recruits are instructed to continue "meditating" and looking at the photo and the flame.

Sometimes the audio tapes go on and on. They're pretty boring and it's often hard to understand what's being said, due to Mataji's thick accent. Often, the tape is stopped midway through (I later learned because what follows is usually Mataji making some of her more intense claims--as in declaring that she is the Holy Spirit incarnate) so as not to shock newcomers. Once a person comits to going to these "meditation" sessions at least weekly, but often several times a week, one can expect more of the same. And after the meditations, senior "yogis," will go around and "work on" the chakras of the newbies, supposedly using their own yogic powers to clear "catches" in each chakra.

Regarding the eyes, hypnotism, etc:

If such a technique really works, it is outrageous that these con artists are able to get away with it. How can this be legal? And yet, reading about it here, it somehow explains how this monster called Sahaja Yoga was able to wrap its tentacles around me.

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Question about Eyes and Hypnosis
Posted by: kittypaw ()
Date: March 16, 2004 05:59AM

I'm glad you're out now, Wordgirl!


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Question about Eyes and Hypnosis
Posted by: Wordgirl ()
Date: March 16, 2004 10:42PM

Thanks, Kittypaw.
I'd forgotten how wonderful it feels to be free.
And, believe it or not, even though I've been out of that idiotic cult for 10 years, I still think I'm going through a healing process.
Recently I learned via an Internet forum that a woman I knew when I was in SY will now be sending her three teenage daughters to the SY school in India. I also know that there have been coverups of sexual abuse at that school, cases of malnourishment and children returning home with lice-infested hair.
But the brainwashing is so strong in Sahaja Yoga that parents will willingly leave their children half a world away for 9 or more months. Very little contact is allowed. It's really terrible. And yet, at one time, I briefly (very briefly) considered sending my own children (when they came of age).
What was I thinking?
The answer to that is: I wasn't.

But I keep remembering Mataji's eyes (the contents of this thread had quite an impact on me).
She has these pujas (worship ceremonies) every month or so. I attended dozens of them. I made every effort to go to the ones where she was present (others are done using her photo). It was considered a very big deal when she came to the U.S. and a terrible thing if you didn't go to see her in person.

Each puja where Mataji was present would be devoted to a certain "aspect" of the "goddess." I had seen Mataji "become" Krishna, Vishnu, Ganesha, etc. But the one that that really bothered me most was when I saw her "become" Kali, the bloodthirsty destroyer.

At each puja, a barricade of saris, held by married yoginis, would be raised around the guru as she applied kum kum, jewels and various other accessories to recreate the look of whatever deity we were worshipping and she was "becoming." She'd be hidden from view until she had completed her make-up etc. I was once one of the sari holders, so I got to see what was going on behind the barricade. Pretty mundane stuff, really.

But as Kali, once the sari barricade was withdrawn, she posed on her "throne" with these hideous, bulging eyes staring out at her audience. She remained that way for what seemed like an eternity as people took flash photos. View one here, if you dare:


Creepy, no?
And yet I once thought she was God.

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Question about Eyes and Hypnosis
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 18, 2004 12:02AM

The writer is telling a correspondant that 'freezing one's thoughts' is not the same as enlightenment.

It makes me wonder whether the prolonged trancy stare of the gurus you've all met cause our thoughts to freeze, merely because our eyes become fixed on them, whether by fascination, adoration, or terror (which is probably what happens to his victims when certain abusive teachers launches verbal assaults on their victims).

It appears that when our gaze is fixed on a person or object, a common neurological glitch kicks in that causes our visual field to 'white out' and our thoughts to freeze up. This can trigger unusual mental experiences that are highly uncanny and that an unscrupulous teacher can employ to empower him or herself at your expense.

So, it isnt clear whether meeting a pair of eyes in a prolonged stare is hypnotic, or whether anything that causes us to fix our gaze -whether its a pair of tratakam-trained eyes, a photograph, wall or a candle flame is enough to trigger the effect. Must ask more questions.

I invite correspondants and visitors to this thread (especially Word Girl) to read this, mull it over and tell us if this is not quite what you encountered, or if it seems to account for part, or all of what you have encountered.

I've encountered visual 'white out' many times while gazing at the wall during Zen practice. Zennies learn to recognize all this as 'makyo'--illusions, tricks of the mind.

(quote from discussion on one of the Google listserves)

"nirodha", cessation, isn't Awakening. (Nor does "nibbana" mean cessation in the sense of "snuffing out", it means "unbinding", in the way that fire,in the Buddha's day, was believed to be released from imprisonment in its fuel when it burnt out.)

A cessation of mentation as a result of intense concentration _may_ be a precursor to Awakening in some "accidental" enlightenment experiences (e.g. Eckhart Tolle's, or John Wren-Lewis'), or in some very thorough systematic approaches (like the Theravada), but it is not Awakening itself: or, put it this way, it isn't a _necessary_ precursor to Awakening. In fact, Awakening is a BREAK in any form of samadhi-like concentration (taking "samadhi" in its lesser meaning - for it can also mean the Result itself, in some systems). It's (that is, genuine awakening) is at complete right angles to anything you've ever experienced or imagined.

It's like this: if you fix your gaze, the *saccades (the little
jerkings about) that your eyes constantly unconsciously make* the saccades cease, and *because the visual system normally sees things by noticing borders, edges and differences*, the visual system "whites out".

(This fact is taken advantage of in some Daoist practices, and some Dzogchen Longde practices, if I'm not mistaken - right Namdrol?)

'Since the whole mental system works in an analogous way, by noticing differences, I believe something analogous may happen if the _whole mental system_ is "frozen" in a concentrative state - it ceases to experience anything at all*. BUT THAT IS NOT AWAKENING.

The URL for the citation is here. For full context go to the thread and read the articles before and after to get the full context.


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