CONFRONTING THE CRISIS
“I’VE TRIED EVERYTHING.”
Alan Hassler stood just outside of my office door. He didn’t say “Hello.” He didn’t say “Thank you for seeing me.” He said, “I’ve tried everything.” The words came tumbling out as if he were delivering a prepared speech and had gotten through the first part of it before I’d opened the door. I had heard the phrase before, of course; I guess any psychologist hears it, but from Alan Hassler it represented a combative attitude I knew would be hard to overcome.
Two weeks earlier he’d been a guest at my dinner table, and had listened carefully, like the good lawyer he is, as I explained the workings of Past Lives Therapy. We didn’t know each other well (our wives were friends), but I could see that he was outraged by the thought of reincarnation and, despite our recent acquaintance, was not going to be polite about it. All conversation was brought to a halt while I was berated for my “misguided” work. Alan Hassler was certain that there was nothing after death and that my work consisted of selling “false hope” to unhappy wretches who didn’t know any better. I declined to argue these points with my quest, because I knew that what I wanted to tell him would only feed his anger. I kept silent. Now, two weeks later, he was standing at my door, telling me he had tried everything. I was not particularly surprised. I told him to come in.
He sat nervously on the couch in my upstairs office. The self-confident bluster was gone. In a subtle way, the two weeks since I’d seen him had worn him out, slackened him. Somewhat overweight, he looked like a beaten man; his costly gray suit was rumpled, flecked with lint. In his words, a “disaster;” now his second wife was threatening him with divorce.
“For the same reason,” he told me. “Every time I see a domestic crisis coming, I just want to run and hide. I can go up against the toughest judge in the world and it’s business as usual. But if my family has a problem I run out the back door. I can’t help it. I just want to hide.”
He had said it twice. I made a note of it and asked him about the marriage. His wife, it seemed, was a big spender. He was making a fair amount of money, but he felt she was working him to death. The fact that his perceptions of his home life didn’t really reflect what that life was like was a clear sign that he was reacting to a different situation, one which I suspected he would find in the past. Then the second phrase hit.
“I don’t know what I’m working for hard for, it’s hopeless.” The past incident was coming into focus. I wrote down his second description – “it’s hopeless” – and asked him to lie back and close his eyes. I received a hard stare.
“You’re here to work this out,” I told him. “Otherwise you’d never have come to me.”
He shrugged, reluctantly laid back on the couch, and closed his eyes.
“Take the phrase, ‘I don’t know what I’m working so hard for, it’s hopeless.’ ”
“I dictated it into my dictaphone at the office,” he admitted. “I threw away the belt.”
“Repeat it again.”
“I don’t know why I’m working so hard. It’s hopeless.”
“Repeat, ‘It’s hopeless.’ ”
“One more time, please.”
“Where do you go, what do you see, hear, think, feel?”
He labored over this phrase for a few minutes, without saying anything further. I tried the phrase, “I want to hide,” in the same manner, with the same results. Alan lay there, drawing a blank, repeating the phrase again and again. I could not accurately measure his reaction. Was he simply uncommitted to the work, or genuinely blocked? There was nothing on my pad except the two phrases he had given me. A blank spot suddenly filled itself in for me. I asked him to repeat the phrase he’d given me the moment he’d walked in the door.
“Take the phrase ‘I’ve tried everything.’ ” I told him.
His body twitched. I saw his head cock slightly to the left, then he relaxed again. “I’ve tried everything – it’s hopeless.”
“What happened?” I asked.
“Nothing,” he said, but I knew he was defending his problem. He had seen his incident for the first time, and lawyers hate to lose arguments.
“What’s the next thing you hear, see, or feel?” I asked sternly.
There was a long pause. “I’m on a farm,” he admitted. “On a farm, but it looks like a desert.”
I began to make notes. “Repeat, ‘I’ve tried everything.’ ”
“I have tried everything.”
I knew he wasn’t making the scene up, even if he wasn’t sure yet. I now had to allow the incident to evolve.
“No rain,” he said. “The climate has changed. I have been very successful, but the last year the crop was small. This year there is no crop.”
“Next thing coming in –”
“My wife is going mad. She doesn’t see that there is no way for us to go on living like we have in the past. She makes no sacrifices. They have taken away the house. We live in the barn. I’ve tried everything, but there’s no rain.
I’ve gone to town to sell the farm, but who would buy it?”
At this point Alan was still narrating, although the events were very real to him. Then, suddenly, his tone shifted. His breathing became heavier, his speech slower. He unleashed a flood of details.
“The Wind is driving us crazy. The ground is just dust. It blows around the corners of the house, swirls up into the trees. I wear cloth around my head.
I’ve worked so hard. It’s hopeless.”
Phrase number two. We repeated it four times. Little by little he came to see that this was the same phrase he used to describe his current life.
“The front yard is dust, swirling dust everywhere. No one would want to buy –”
In midphrase he stopped. His body froze in tension on the couch and the color drained from his face. Sweat beaded on his upper lip.
“Oh my God,” he said quietly. “She’s killed the children.”
“She’s killed the children.”
A pause of four or five seconds. Then the rest came rapidly, retarded only by my insistence that he repeat every salient phrase until his voice had lost its intensity.
“She’s stabbed the children in the front yard. I have a pistol. The children are dead, drenched in blood, and I’m running. Running into the barn.
She’s there with the cloth around her head. I can’t see her face, but she has a knife held to her own chest. I don’t know what to do except with the pistol, and I fire it. She’s thrown off her feet, covered with blood. Looking around.
Nothing will grow.”
I knew we had struck home, uncovered a scene that was crucially affecting Alan’s view of “domestic crisis” in his current life. We went back to his discovery of the children and reworked it, gathering more details of the pain and revulsion – the blood on the bodies, the sudden nausea that swept over Alan as he viewed the scene, the sounds, and the feeling of the dust in his eyes. As we covered and recovered every step of this incident. Alan’s emotional attachment gradually lost its muscle. Finally he was able to describe the scene with total calm and detachment. Only then did we move forward to the end of his life.
“I am taking the gun to my right temple. There’s no hesitation as I pull the trigger. I’m glad to escape.”
“I’m glad to escape.”
“Once more.” I’m glad to escape.”
As he described his own suicide, Alan Hassler kicked his head from right to left. The bullet entered the temple and lodged behind his eyes.
His first connection was made. I didn’t ask Alan to believe that any of what he told me had actually happened. If he chose to think that it was the product of a suddenly unleashed imagination, his therapy could proceed at that level. After all, what a person makes up about himself is bound to reveal a lot about the person, his obsessions, fears, and self-image.
Alan Hassler, returned to a fully conscious state, wasn’t sure where he had been. He admits to a rather limited imagination and is a poor storyteller.
He agreed to place no immediate interpretation on the experience of coming in contact with a past-life incident. (Although he had reached a full, rich example of the kind of scene his unconscious mind associated with the notion of
“domestic crisis,” he was certainly not “cured.”) During the next three months Alan and I explored many past incarnations. He stunned himself by discovering the subtle and curious links between his past experiences and his present life.
But it was this first swift, unexpected encounter that persuaded him to continue. Gradually, as the therapy produced results for him, his attitude toward it and toward reincarnation in general changed. It was not until he had seen the process work that I began to explain the full procedure and the scope of that I hoped we could accomplish together.
Excerpted from Past life regression therapy by Morris Netherton
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