Modeling the Wisdom of Jesus by Robert Dilts.

The words, ideas and actions of Jesus of Nazareth have been a major influence on Western civilization for almost two thousand years now. Through the ages, Jesus has been viewed as many different things by many different people a teacher, a miracle worker, a charismatic healer, a magician, a political and religious leader, the son of God, a metaphor, etc. Having been raised Catholic (and attended Catholic schools through secondary school) I was continually exposed to the gospels and the stories of Jesus' deeds. I have often contemplated the relevance of the stories of Jesus' works for NLP and vice versa. It is well known that the field of NLP was established as a result of modeling effective 'healers'. NLP began when Richard Bandler and John Grinder modeled patterns of language and behavior from the works of Fritz Perls, Virginia Satir and Milton H. Erickson, M.D. The first 'techniques' of NLP were derived from key verbal and non-verbal patterns Grinder and Bandler observed in the behavior of these exceptional therapists. Bandler and Grinder's first book was titled The Structure of Magic. The implication of this title was that what seemed magical and unexplainable often had a deeper structure that, when illuminated, could be understood, communicated and put into practice by people other than the few exceptional 'wizards' who had initially performed the 'magic'.

able to us today as they did during his own time. Jesus' exceptional abilities to heal are mentioned in the gospels more than 35 times - many of the references describing how he healed "multitudes" of people "that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatik, and those that had the palsy," (Matthew 424), including the "lame, blind, dumb and maimed" (Matthew 1530). Thus, it is somewhat surprising to find that very few efforts had been made to examine Jesus' works of healing from the point of view of what they might contribute to practically promote the process of healing. As Ian Wilson points out in his book Jesus The Evidence (1985) "If there is one feature of his activities that repeatedly shines out from the gospels, it is [Jesus'] capacity to work what men have called 'miracles' the sheer magnitude of his reported successes Jesus was without equal...Yet paradoxically, it has been one of the least explored." (pp. 99-100) I believe that the tools and distinctions of NLP can help to cast new light on this fascinating area.

that he viewed healing as supporting and encouraging the natural self healing ability of the system as opposed to exerting power over it himself to 'repair' it. Jesus was able to tap into and encourage the healing process in a way that was both effective and systematic. One of the ways he did this was through the person's belief system. Certainly, a clear pattern that emerges in the accounts of Jesus' healing works is that a great deal of his words and actions were directed toward influencing people's beliefs and belief systems. As the following statements indicate, Jesus placed a great deal of emphasis on the power of belief. Be not afraid, only believe. Mark 536 If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. Mark 924 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. Mark 1123-24 According to your faith be it unto you. Matthew 929 These quotations certainly imply that belief is one of the key factors in helping a miracle to happen. As Goethe maintained, "The miracle is faith's most cherished child." Even modern medical science acknowledges the healing influence of beliefs in the form of the 'placebo effect'. My own work in the applications of NLP in psychotherapy and healing have certainly highlighted for me personally the significance of people's beliefs upon their mental and physical health. [See Changing Belief Systems with NLP (Dilts, 1990) and Beliefs Pathways to Health and Well Being (Dilts, Hallbom & Smith, 1990).] I have seen some fairly 'miraculous' things happen when people have changed limiting beliefs regarding themselves and their health; including recovery from cancer and other tumors, arthritis, allergies, lupus, eyesight problems, mental illnesses of many types and even symptoms of AIDS. The three most common areas of limiting beliefs center around issues of hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness. These three areas of belief can exert a great deal of influence with respect to a person's mental and physical health.

There's an interesting Far Side cartoon depicting a professor, who looks somewhat like Albert Einstein, madly writing a very complex series of mathematical equations on a blackboard. At a certain point in the midst of all of this very scientific looking scribbling, he stops and writes, "And then a miracle happens." And then madly goes on A number of years ago it occurred to again with his equations. One of his me that perhaps a similar kind of colleagues is standing nearby pointmodeling could be done with respect ing at the comment about the mirto the records of Jesus' teachings acle and asking, "Could you be a bit and works of healing. My first study, more specific about that part there?" Cognitive Patterns of Jesus of NazIn a way, that is a metaphor for my areth, explored the structure of the study of Jesus' healing patterns. A cognitive strategies employed by Je- lot has been written and said about sus in his various works and teachthe 'equations' surrounding the mirings and how we might apply Jesus' acles. Is it possible to be a little bit strategic thinking abilities to our more specific about the part where own lives. A forthcoming work, Epithe miracle happens? I think that, in stemology of Jesus of Nazareth, will considering Jesus' works of healing, explore the beliefs, values and asthere will always be a point where sumptions that lie behind the words we must simply say, "And then a and works of Jesus as viewed from miracle happens." The question is, the perspective of NLP and systems "Is it possible, by modeling the detheory. For the past several years I scriptions of Jesus' healing works, to have been examining the reports of discover verbal and behavioral patJesus' acts of healing through the fil- terns which create a context in ters of Neuro-Linguistic Programwhich it is more likely that a 'mirming, culminating in my seminars acle' will happen?" and video tapes on The Healing PatThe Power of Belief terns of Jesus. In the New Testament two words are Since a great deal of my own work in used in reference to healing 1) the field of NLP has related to its nu- iaomai - which means to heal in the merous applications in the area of sense of 'curing' or 'repairing', and health and healing, I have long been 2) therapeuo which means 'to atintrigued by the accounts of Jesus' tend to someone'. When Jesus reworks of healing. In many ways Jeferred to healing, he used the word sus' healing works seem as remark'therapeuo'. The implication being

Hopelessness occurs when someone does not believe a particular desired goal is even possible. It is characterized by a sense that, "No matter what I do it won't make a difference. What I want is not possible to get. It's out of my control. I'm a victim." Helplessness occurs when, even though he or she believes that the outcome exists and is possible to achieve, a person does not believe that he or she is capable of attaining it. It produces a sense that, "It's possible for others to achieve this goal but not for me. I'm not good enough or capable enough to accomplish it."

away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it yielded no fruit. And others fell on good ground and it did yield fruit that sprang up and increased and brought forth, some thirty, some sixty, and some one hundred. And he said unto them, Ye that have ears, let them hear. Mark 42-9

to be poisoned or destroyed, but they do need to be resolved or sorted out. You need to create an ecological context; otherwise the new belief gets choked. The power of this metaphor is that 'healing' is likened to 'gardening'. You can't make a tree grow. Rather, you can prepare the soil. The gardener doesn't go, "I'm going to make this tree grow, no matter what!" But what the gardener can do is to remove the rocks, make sure the soil is fertile and see that thorns aren't surrounding the seedling. That is the essence of Jesus' view of change. In order for a new belief to strengthen and for new capabilities and behaviors to develop it is necessary to: Deepen the experiences which will serve as the references for the new belief or behavior. Address the internal resistances and interferences to the new belief or behavior. Deal with any incongruence or conflicts within the person or his/her environment. The next step in the modeling process is to explore more specifically how Jesus accomplished these goals in his healing works. Healing Through Word and Touch Is it possible to actually model specific processes through which Jesus was able to transform the obstacles to empowering beliefs and precipitate healing miracles? According to the Gospels, Jesus' primary approach to healing involved the systematic use of language and the 'laying on of hands'. "...they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils and he cast out the spirits with his word..." Matthew 814 "...all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them." Luke 440 These descriptions would seem to imply that Jesus tended to use words to address problems related to the mind, and his hands to treat physical illness. NLP too has many therapeutic techniques that are centered on the use of words and touch. It is intriguing to consider what similarities and differences there are between Jesus' healing work and the NLP approach. Like many, I grew up with only a vague picture of what Jesus did specifically as a healer. I had an image of him walking up to the blind, the crippled or the mentally ill and 'zapping' them with supernatural power, barking commands and haranguing

I believe that the parable of the sower and the seed embodies Jesus' fundamental paradigm for change Ð regardless of whether that change related to healing, teaching or leadership. As Jesus later explained to his disciples, the 'seed' is like a new idea or belief. For the belief to grow Worthlessness occurs when, even and produce fruit, it must first be though a person may believe that placed in the appropriate context. If the desired goal is possible and that there aren't some kind of internal he or she even has the capability to reference experiences for the new accomplish it, that individual bebelief to 'take root' in, it will disaplieves that he or she doesn't deserve pear in the face of any criticism. The to get what he/she wants. It is often 'bird' plucks it right out of the heart. characterized by a sense that, "I am If there's no experiential 'soil' for it a fake. I don't belong. I don't deto grow in, all somebody has to do is serve to be happy or healthy. There to look at you cross-eyed, and you is something basically and fundathink, "Oh, well, I guess I'm being mentally wrong with me as a person stupid and foolish, etc." So if the and I deserve the pain and suffering new belief "falls by the wayside," if that I am experiencing." it's just shallow and you're running At the core of Jesus' works of healing around speaking it but not feeling it, hearing it, seeing it or tasting it, was his ability to elegantly and efthen it's easy for it to be "trodden fectively help people to shift these types of limiting beliefs to beliefs in- down" or "devoured". When a new belief "falls on stony ground" it is volving hope for the future, a sense blocked, as Jesus explained, by the of capability and responsibility, and a sense of self-worth and belonging. "hard places in the heart." These 'stones' may relate to past experiJesus' uncanny ability to be able to ences, things that you're not ready gain access to and transform core to let go of. In my work with beliefs beliefs and identity issues in his patients and followers can no doubt at and health, for instance, people often need to work through 'imprints' least partially account for the dramatic changes he was able to effect. Ð experiences in their past that might create a "hard place." The By all accounts, Jesus had the roots of the new belief can't grow unique ability to easily and consistbecause the person can't get past ently help people to change limiting this particular feeling or this particubeliefs and establish new empower- lar event in their life. When this ocing beliefs. The core question in curs, even though the belief begins modeling is, "How did he do it?" One to strengthen, it "withers" in the clue is provided by the type of face of resistance. When 'the sun is strategies he promoted in his teach- up' it becomes "scorched" and, since ings and parables. it has no root, it "withers away, because it lacks moisture." Thus, it is The Sower and the Seed A Fundaimportant to find ways of either remental Paradigm for Change moving the rocks or crumbling them Jesus' parable of the sower and the up into more fertile soil. For exseed provides one of the clearest ample, finding the 'positive intenand deepest insights into his aption' behind a symptom and finding proach to working with people's benew choices to meet that intention liefs and belief systems. is a way of releasing some of those hard places. And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his A belief that 'falls among the thorns' doctrine, Hearken; Behold. There is one that is confronted by conflictwent out a sower to sow, and it ing beliefs, incongruency or 'thought came to pass, as he sowed, some viruses'. These resistances may fell by the wayside, and the fowls of come from either external or internthe air came and devoured them up. al sources Ð from within the person And some fell on stony ground, or from the person's environment. where it had not much earth, and Conflicting or limiting beliefs are immediately it sprang up because it kind of like the thorns that overshadhad no depth of earth, but when the ow or 'choke' the new belief, even if sun was up, it was scorched, and be- there is rich soil in which it could cause it had no root, it withered grow. It is not that the 'thorns' have

them about sin or Satan like some prototypic 'televangelist'. As I read the various accounts of his healing work, however, I found something quite different. He treated different individuals in different ways. He is described as interacting personally with each individual he was healing, often in a gentle, supportive and even loving manner; addressing his patients as "son" or "daughter" Ð never as "sinner". He also treated different kinds of illnesses with different approaches. In all of the descriptions of his work with lepers, for instance, Jesus tells them directly that they are healed and sends them to complete a task at the temple (see Matthew 82-4 and Luke 713-19). The blind, however, are sent on no such task. Instead, Jesus emphasizes the importance of their own beliefs in their healing, asking "Do you believe I can do this?" and proclaiming, "According to your faith be it unto you" (Matthew 927-31). It is only with the lame that Jesus even mentions "sin," telling one man that his "sins are forgiven" (Matthew 92) and encouraging another to "sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee" (John 514).

knew about (at least intuitively) and used accessing cues. The fact that he led the man out of the town and told him not to go into the town nor tell anyone in the town about the experience, would indicate that Jesus was not doing this work as any particular 'sign' to the people there. Rather Jesus' focus is on the health of that individual. Clearly, Jesus makes no mention of sins or unclean spirits as he does in some of his works. The fact is, Jesus was described as doing some very specific things with his subject that were different from the way he treated others, and took two iterations to complete it.

flects a deep aspect of healing. This type of verbal and non-verbal combination has been the inspiration for a number of the techniques in the 'Healing Patterns' seminar. These are only two of the many fascinating examples of Jesus' healing works. Unfortunately, to go into depth with any others is beyond the scope of this article. The Mission to Heal More than anything else, what shines through the reports of Jesus' works of healing was that there was a 'mission to heal' behind his actions. I think that in many ways having the mission to heal is even more important than having the tools to heal. I think 'healing', as opposed to 'curing' or 'fixing' or 'mending' something that's broken, comes out of that sense of mission. One of the things that shows up quite clearly in the gospels is that Jesus didn't try keep the mission or ability to "heal" to himself. Matthew (101) reports, "And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease." In fact, one of the first tasks he assigned to his disciples was to go out and "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils freely ye have received, freely give." (Matthew 108) 'Freely have you received, freely give'. This is not a message that healing is something to be held on to and practiced only by an elite few. Rather it implies that healing is a mission to be shared. According to Mark (314-15) "And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils." Luke (101) adds that, later on in his ministry, Jesus "appointed another seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face to every city and place", telling them to, "heal the sick that are therein..." We are also told that Jesus did not discourage the practice of healing in his name being done by people that were not even his followers (Mark 938-40, Luke 949-50). When Jesus is told that somebody who was not one of his disciples was out healing in his name, and asked if he was going to chastise this person Jesus replies, "he that is not against us is with us." (Luke 950). It is as if he was saying that anybody who shares the mission to heal shares something that is really important and deep. My interpretation of Jesus' comments and actions is that the ability to heal was not just something that Jesus intended to keep for himself,

Another of Jesus' healing works that particularly fascinated me was the account of his treatment of Simon's mother-in-law's fever. Luke (439) reports that, "he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her" Matthew (815), however, mentions that "he touched her hand" and Mark (131) says that Jesus "took her by the hand, and lifted her up." These description are interesting in that, taken together, they indicate that even though Jesus was "rebuking" the fever verbally, he was supporting the woman kinesthetically. In These types of variations indicate a other words, his auditory communichigh degree of sophistication and ation and his kinesthetic communicflexibility based on the type of issue ation were directed towards two difone is working with. Consider, for ferent levels, and performing two example, the following description of different functions. His words were Jesus' healing of a blind man. directed toward the symptom and his touch was directed toward the "And he cometh to Bethsaida; and person. they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. And From the NLP perspective, we can he took the blind man by the hand, think about the interaction in terms and led him out of the town; and of a verbal 'message' and a nonwhen he had spit on his eyes, and verbal 'metamessage'. The message put his hands upon him, he asked involves the "rebuking of the fever". him if he saw ought. And he looked It is directed at the behavioral exup, and said, I see men as trees, pression of the symptom. The touch walking. After that he put his hands of the hand is a nonverbal metamesagain upon his eyes, and made him sage that communicates, "I'm suplook up and he was restored, and porting you." Jesus took her hand saw every man clearly. And he sent and lifted her up while rebuking the him away to his house, saying, fever. Thus, there's no confusion Neither go into the town, nor tell it that he is "rebuking" the patient for to any in the town." Mark 822-26 having a fever. I think there's something very profound and There are a number interesting elepowerful about that simple combinaments to this report. The first is that tion of word and touch. Jesus did not immediately heal the man but made two attempts in order It is also interesting that the word to successfully complete the pro"rebuke," in English was translated cess, using the feedback he got from the Greek word, epitimao from his first attempt. He did not which doesn't simply mean to be perceive the initial lack of success verbally abusive. It means 'to set a as a failure on his part, the part of weight upon'. The implication is that his subject or on the part of God. It Jesus was not necessarily speaking is also interesting that that Jesus angrily, but rather 'putting pressure' made the man "look up". This is con- on the symptom. So we are given sidered an 'accessing cue' for the this beautiful sense of putting presvisual representational system in sure on the fever verbally and lifting NLP. Considering that the man had up the person physically. He is reproblems with his vision and that, at moving the 'stones' and 'thorns' the point Jesus had him look up, he while at the same time he is suphad partial access to his vision, this porting the 'soil' by lifting and supmay be an indication that Jesus porting the person. I think that re-

but rather was something that he intended others to learn and to do. Not only did Jesus want and encourage others to heal, he seems to have been fairly successful at transferring the ability. Mark (613) mentions that Jesus' disciples, "cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them." It is in the spirit of the mission to heal that I have approached the study of the structure of Jesus' healing works and invite others to approach it. Regardless of one's religious background or beliefs, I believe it is possible to find a connection between these patterns and the mission to heal. Whether a person is 'Mother Teresa' or a shaman, people who have a mission to heal, or to be healed, share a similar path and have something to gain from such a study.

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