The Bible’s Contributions to Human Trinity Hypnotherapy
By Chaplain Paul G. Durbin, Ph.D.
The Bible has been the most influential book in my life and it still speaks something new to me each time I read it.
What is the first written record of the use of hypnosis? The first written recorded use of hypnosis is found in the book of Genesis 2:21-22, “So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon man, and while he slept, took one of his ribs and closed up in its place with flesh, and the rib which God took from man. He made woman and brought her to the man.” In this incident, God used hypnosis as an anesthesia so that Adam felt no pain during the removal of his rib.
In addition to the reference in Genesis, mention of hypnotic techniques is found in other ancient sources concerning the Egyptian “Sleep Temples.” In the temples, Egyptian priest used hypnotic-like procedures to improve health. These temples were so popular that they spread to Grease and Asia Minor.
Chaplain W. Leo Peacock gives a number of New Testament illustrations of hypnosis in his paper “Religious Hypnosis and Personal Control.” Chaplain Peacock makes a point with his interpretation of Matthew’s account of Joseph’s dream concerning taking Mary as his wife (Matthew 1:20-25). When Joseph discovered that Mary was expecting a child, he decided to break his engagement for he knew that the child was not his. The story told of an “angel” or “messenger” coming to Joseph in a dream. In this dream, the angel told Joseph to marry Mary. Upon waking, Joseph did as the angel suggested. Peacock writes that this is a clear description of an individual being hypnotized and while under hypnosis being given a post-hypnotic suggestion which he immediately acts upon as soon as he came out of the hypnotic trance.
Paul speaks of going into a trance while praying in the temple (Acts 22:17). Peter “fell into a trance” and from that experience came to see that God loved all people and accepts all people who come to him. Peter had been invited to the home of a centurion who was devout in his faith, but was not Jewish. At that time, it was religiously unlawful for Peter to visit the centurion’s house. After the dream, Peter went to visit the centurion (Acts 10:1-48).
The practice of “laying on of hand,” mentioned in the Bible, uses some of the techniques of hypnosis. In the book of Acts (28:8) we read, “And it came about that the father of Publius was lying in bed afflicted with recurrent fever and dysentery; and Paul went in to see him and after he prayed, he laid his hands on him and healed him.” Elsewhere in the book of Acts, there is a reference to an apostle looking into the eyes or gazing into the eyes of a person which resulted in the person being healed. “This man was listening to Paul as he spoke, who when he had fixed his gaze upon him, and had seen that he had faith to be made well, said with a loud voice, ‘Stand upright on your feet.’ And he leaped up and began to walk.” (Acts 14:9-10).
Jesus often spoke in parables or stories which still bring to mind vivid pictures which tell us something important about life. The parables can have a different meaning to us at different times in our lives. One of the principles of hypnosis is repetition and there are two of Jesus’ parables (The Friend At Midnight and The Unjust Judge) which speak to this issue. In the parable of the “Friend At Midnight” (Luke 11:5-10), Jesus tells of a man who knocks at his neighbor’s door at midnight and request some food for a friend who has arrived at his house unexpectedly. At first the friend said, “Do not brother me. ” but because the man is persistent, the friend will get up and give him as much food as he needs. What does this have to do with hypnosis? At first the subconscious (the friend next door) is resistant to change but through persistence, in the use of hypnotherapy, the subconscious will grant what is requested. Jesus concludes the parable, “Ask and it shall be give to you , seek and you shall find; knock it will be opened to you. For everyone who ask receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened. ”
In the parable of “The Unjust Judge” (Luke 18:1-8), Jesus told the story of a judge who does not fear God and respects no one. A widow keeps coming before him for protection from her opponents. As the woman persists, even after being turned down several time, the judges says, “Because she bothers me, I will give her legal protection. Just by continually coming, she wears me out.” I leave the parable for your interpretation.
The idea of the human trinity came to me from the Bible for there I learned that we are made up of body, mind, and spirit and each affects the others and are affected by the others.
Paul writes of the human trinity in the twelfth chapter of the book of Romans. Paul wrote, “I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercy of God, that ye present your body as a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service and be not confined to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2).
In God’s sight, the body and mind as well as the spirit are important. The body is the temple of God, and the place where the spirit dwells for Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is within you.” From Romans, I hear God saying through Paul that real worship is more than the offering of great prayers. It is more than the offering to God of a ritual, however magnificent. Real worship is the offering of everyday life to God.
The renewing of the mind calls for a change in attitude. It calls for us to let go of any negative thought because they can be a block to living life to its fullest. God wants us to realize our talents, our abilities, our potential, and with divine guidance to use them for our own good and for the good of others. He leads to look into the heart (subconscious) and mind (conscious) to see our potential and our possibilities rather than our failures and limitations. In the Bible, one can find several references to hypnotic like activities. For instance, the first written record of the use of hypnosis is recorded in the book of Genesis 2:21-22, “So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh, and the rib which God took from man, he made woman and brought her to him.” In this incident, God used hypnosis so that Adam felt no pain during the removal of his rib.
Paul speaks of going into a trance while praying in the temple (Acts 22:17). Peter “feel into a trance” and from that experience came to understand that God loves all people and accepts all people who come to him (Acts 10:1-18). Through the book of Acts, there are a number of references to the apostles looking into the eyes or gazing into the eyes which resulted in the person being healed (Acts 14:9-10). The practice of “laying on of hands” mentioned in the Bible uses some of the techniques of hypnosis (Acts 28:8).
The writer of Proverbs 23:7 said that as a person thinketh in his heart, so is he. St. Paul wrote, “Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.”(Gal. 6:7) This says to me that what is sown by the conscious mind through thoughts and images into the subconscious mind tends to become a reality. Mental images give the subconscious mind a model to work toward for good or bad. The use of positive imagery improves life and health. Until there is an image in the mind, there can be no reality. The author of Proverbs 29:18 also wrote that were there is no vision, the people parish.
Jesus said, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because… he sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, and set at liberty them that are bruised.” (Luke 4:18) Following that guidance and the proper use of hypnosis, we can heal the brokenhearted, bring deliverance to those in captivity to pain, fear, and phobias; give sight to the emotionally and spiritually blind, and set at liberty those who are bound by unwanted habits.
Chaplain Paul G. Durbin, Ph.D._Chaplain (Brigadier General) United States Army: Retired 1989
Director of Pastoral Care & Clinical Hypnotherapy: Methodist Hospital, New Orleans, LA: Retired 2001
Director of Clinical Hypnotherapy: MHSF, Affiliated with Methodist Hospital: Retired June 30, 2005
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