You can create coincidence. This is Paul Liekens’ intriguing message. Anyone can make any wish come true. You just need to understand the laws of the universe. Jurriaan Kamp talked with him about allergies, phobias, rain and … happiness.
Paul Liekens’ life was changed by a pyramid and two women. The Belgian businessman who, following careers with food-to-detergents multinational Unilever, petroleum giant Shell and a candy factory, ended up as a dog- and cat-food dealer and became interested in the healing power of pyramids. His friend Marie-Therèse, who had been paralysed for 34 years due to a birth defect, suddenly began to walk after sleeping with a pyramid under her bed for six months. With that miracle in mind, he went to his neighbour who had suffered from migraines all her life. She duly put a pyramid under her bed… but the migraines persisted. ‘What’s the difference that makes the difference?’ Paul Liekens wondered. And that question sent him on a quest during which he explored astrology, homeopathy, tarot cards, Indian gurus and shamans. Ultimately he discovered Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). Since 1994, Liekens has been training people to use NLP in Belgium and the Netherlands.
When we meet over a hearty Belgian meal on a warm summer evening I start by confessing my doubts to him about NLP. I have often associated NLP courses with predicting profit and turnover rates, which gave me the impression of a cheap ‘trick’ for shrewd business managers that is devoid of any real depth. And certain NLP advocates I’ve seen dancing energetically across podiums didn’t exactly help. So before our discussion I laid my cards on the table. But the meeting with Liekens quickly became a confrontation with my own judgements. He pours a glass of wine – enjoying life is, in any case, a priority – and speaks with the humour and solid sense of perspective I so love in the Belgians. ‘Come on, NLP isn’t so complicated, otherwise Belgians wouldn’t understand it, right?’
Liekens: ‘I was pretty far gone. I was nervous and had a lot of worries. I never thought I was good enough. I did the strangest things because I was scared I wouldn’t be able to do something the next time I tried. I was a man living in fear. And that is completely gone. Along with a growing spiritual consciousness, which is largely thanks to NLP.’ Liekens did his training course with the American founders of NLP, Anné Linden, Richard Bandler and John Grinder. During that course he discovered: ‘This is a Western way to truly understand the miraculous beings that people are. NLP explains how people end up with certain behaviours due to a particular neurological disposition. If you want to change something in your life you have to start with that programming.’
After dinner we continue our discussion in the monastery nearby where Paul Liekens is staying for a few days for a training course. The environment suits him. No frills or unnecessary trimmings. Simple rooms, sober meeting areas. It’s not about the surroundings, but about you. Disarmament through simplicity. In a cell where generations of worship have permeated the walls, we talk of the coincidences that changed Liekens’ life and how he ultimately discovered that these coincidences were not coincidences at all. And that in fact anything is possible. The amazement still resounds in his voice. Enthusiasm twinkles in his eyes.
‘In principle, everyone is capable of doing anything. It is our convictions that determine whether or not we use our extensive capacities. Take the case of a woman with arachnophobia – fear of spiders. The women, 1 metre 70 (around 5 feet 8 inches) tall nearly jumps out the window when she sees a two-millimetre spider. She is perfectly capable of remaining calm and collected, as she has proven in a variety of other confronting circumstances. But if she sees a little spider, there’s no holding her back in her attempts to escape. Somehow she has become convinced that that spider is dangerous. Clearly, that danger would not manifest if she saw a two-millimetre spider simply as a two-millimetre spider. But your brain is capable of making that spider bigger. The woman’s brain filters her environment and she sees a spider of perhaps 10 centimetres. I’ve spoken with people who are sure they hear spiders peeping or walking. Your ideas – regardless of how they evolve – influence your capacities; they manipulate your senses and distort your perception.
You can ‘undo’ that distortion. You have to avoid allowing the image of the spider to turn into the feeling of fear and panic. Somehow you have to connect the image of the spider with a feeling of safety. Then you’re done. I’ve done it hundreds of times. It just plain works. But it is not always simple. The wrong conviction can be very important to someone. For someone with a boring life, an allergy or a phobia can be a welcome change. For example, an allergy to cats can turn a visit from a boring acquaintance into a major event. Now when he comes to visit you have to get rid of the cats, vacuum and open the windows. He’s not that boring anymore; he has an identity. In such cases, the subconscious won’t easily let go of the conviction. That may be the reason why my neighbour’s migraines didn’t go away – despite the pyramid under her bed. The migraine had probably become her “trademark”.
People say, rain makes them depressed. That is absolutely not true. Rain only makes you wet. And yet they get depressed. But the depression is coming from somewhere else. It was dark and you were sitting at the window looking outside. Things weren’t going too well, you were down. And it was raining outside, as is often the case in this part of the world. In your subconscious a new neurological connection was made between seeing the rain and the feeling of depression. And still now when it rains, those gloomy feelings automatically resurface. So you tell yourself that rain makes you depressed when in fact you’re doing it yourself through that hidden connection. Once you’re onto yourself, you can reverse the process.’
‘The entire universe works according to laws of attraction and rejection. An atom attracts another atom while rejecting yet another atom and thus a new entity – a molecule – is formed. Molecules stick together and become cells. Cells form a bone, which is very unique and entirely different from all those individual cells. Organs form people and they also all have a clearly recognisable identity. And people attract other people and they seek each other out in groups. They live in villages and develop a village mentality. Villages that are 20 kilometres away from one another sometimes speak different dialects. That language, that identity, is an expression of a different consciousness.
The process of attraction and rejection is determined by consciousness. By ideas. If you have an idea, it works like a magnet. It attracts people that belong to that idea. Every person is a magnet. You attract people that match your specific qualities and shortcomings. Rebels attract rebels. Aggressive people attract aggressive people. People who are optimistic and support positive change read Ode.
If, for example, a childhood experience convinced you that you were a failure, you will continually sabotage yourself. You will attract people that will create experiences “proving” that you are, indeed, a failure. No matter what I do, nothing will change unless the distortion is reversed. The important thing is to get to know your hidden convictions. Plato once said: “Man, know thyself and when you know thyself you know the secret of the gods and the universe.” This is true. We are cut from the same cloth as the gods.
The point, therefore, is to get to know yourself. That’s tough because 99% of our behaviour is unconscious. How can you get to know your unconscious? Plato didn’t leave instructions. And yet there may be guidebook. It starts with Freud, who first discovered the importance of the subconscious. If you know that your subconscious, your magnet, is attracting what belongs to you, it’s really very simple. You only have to look at what’s happening in your life – the patterns you are attracting – to discover which convictions you apparently have. You only have to ask yourself: what’s in my subconscious that’s attracting this? Why are my relationships continually getting stuck? Why do I always fail at crucial moments? It’s about a spiritual insight; you are the creator of your own life.
Does this also mean that people choose to become ill? No, not consciously. But you do produce the illness. The subconscious creates that illness. You are essentially at the mercy of your circumstances while you are also – according to the mechanism of attraction and rejection – the creator of your own life. It is not easy – but it is always possible – to discover the convictions that lead to your behaviour. You have adopted those convictions in certain situations.
NLP is focused on rooting out the particular hidden convictions that manipulate your senses and make you see or hear things that aren’t there. When you discover one of these convictions, you can replace it with another that provides the same advantages but without the disadvantages. If you form another idea about relationships, you will attract other relationships. We are magicians. We cannot ever stop being magicians. We continue to produce new realities with new thoughts.
A drastic example. A pharmaceutical manufacturer did a study with a new type of chemotherapy. Ten patients were given the new chemotherapy and 10 other patients received a liquid that looked exactly the same, but only contained vitamins. All the patients thought they were getting chemotherapy. After a couple of weeks 3 of the 10 patients from the “vitamin group” had gone completely bald. Humans are a beautiful species, but there is also a dangerous side. I never park my car in a handicapped spot, because I don’t want to give my subconscious any bad ideas.
Every message you send is translated into a certain act. “Ask, and you shall receive.” But be careful. If, for example, you ask for a good relationship but you don’t really believe in it, the subconscious will produce two things: both the good relationship and the subsequent experience that it won’t work. You get everything you ask for. That’s why it’s essential to be congruent with your wish; head and heart, reason and emotion must be joined.
The good news is that everyone is the source of his own misery. Truly. It would be really horrible if someone else were the source of your misery. If you are its creator, if you are responsible for the things that happen in your life then you know that you are also the source of your own happiness. It’s one and the same and it is a fantastic thought. The subconscious works magically. You have to treat it with great care and love. The subconscious doesn’t think, it only makes connections.’
It is getting late. Silence will soon wash over the monastery. Time for reflection on NLP along with one last round of drinks. My initial mistrust has vanished. I find the way Paul Liekens combines depth with an extremely sober and practical view on life to be very inspiring. As he says himself: ‘If it works, it works. I don’t need any further proof.’ I realise that NLP is a language and not a trick. It is also a tool to better understand the laws of the universe. And I realise that Belgian modesty, which is so very different from the usual American approach to NLP, enriches message.
Liekens has the last word: ‘If you want something and you are completely behind it, then it cannot help but manifest itself. You attract it. People talk about coincidence. But coincidence is nothing other than attracting something with your unconscious. If you become conscious of that mechanism, you can consciously create “coincidence”. I always find a parking space in front of the door. It drives my family crazy but I simply know that the space is mine. And it always turns out to be true. If you want something, it is a sign that it already exists. Otherwise you wouldn’t want it, you wouldn’t be able to imagine it.
The Greeks spoke of “synchronicity”. Jung interpreted that as two things that are happening simultaneously. I think the Greek concept went further; they meant the level where time itself overlaps. Where present, past and future coincide. Our minds cannot grasp this level, but it exists. If clairvoyants can very concretely see the future, then that future must have already taken place or they wouldn’t be able to see it. Everything is already there and we can manifest what we want as long as we are congruent with it. This also applies to the businessman’s desire to make a higher profit or sell more insurance policies. But for a true perception of happiness you have to go deeper. You can choose not to have any misery in your life. You can feel freer and more independent by learning to recognise the patterns in your life and changing them. You will function better; your life will become easier.
I see that people with that attitude towards life get luckier. More “coincidence”. More windfalls than setbacks. I’ve seen that happen so often that I simply see it as a fact. Luck is our birthright. We really have to go to a lot of trouble to avoid it.’