E. F. Schumacher and Self Actualization

An interview with Contemporary Spiritual Teacher Harrison, the creater of Harrison’s Applied Game Theory

STUDENT: What is self actualization and what is its connection to reinventing one’s self?

LEWIS:  Self actualization is the awareness that one has connected to the highest and most profound levels of human expression.  It is full self -knowledge and a total experience of who you “Are” spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically.

There is a specific, ever-evolving definition of what it is to be a human being (a homo – sapien). There is also a peak level, a maximum level of potential as well as the actualization of that potential that can be achieved, realized and actualized.. Part of what it means to live a full life, one’s best life, is to have an intention to experience self-actualization and sustain that realization moment to moment.

STUDENT: Please go into greater depth concerning your definition of self-actualization?

LEWIS: Self-Actualization means different things to different people. To Socrates one of our greatest philosophers, a self-actualized individual is one who is aware of every aspect relevant to his/her existence. To understand self-actualization one must have a passion for knowledge, hunger for wisdom and a willingness to be accountable for his/her personal actions.

STUDENT: Why is it important to be or become self-actualized?

LEWIS: Life is filled with all forms of unnecessary struggle. Much of this struggle is a direct result of ordinary thinking. To be ordinary is not enough. To think in ordinary ways is just not acceptable if we wish to live a life filled with freedom, love, and wealth.  Each of us has the potential to be extraordinary. Until we are committed to that intent we are incomplete. Without that intention we are only human in the biological sense. I do not say this with any moral judgment or through any sense of self-righteousness. Without that intention we are not truly being a “human being.” A human “being” is a human who is intent on realizing his/her inherent potential or has already done so.

STUDENT: Is it possible for an unhappy person to also be self-actualized?

LEWIS: Again it all depends on how you define self-actualization and how you define “happy”. When an individual experiences frustration, unhappiness and general discontent, what they are usually experiencing is the result of living inside their own being with unrealized potential. The result is more than just unrealized goals and an unfulfilled life. The person who wishes to have emotional balance in their lives will experience what I like to call a “psychological itch” – a pain of longing that constantly tugs at them to think, speak and act differently than they are presently doing.

STUDENT: How do you define happiness?

LEWIS: On the purist level it is a state of contentment in spite of circumstances.

STUDENT: How does a person achieve happiness?

LEWIS: If we wish to have joy, contentment, freedom, and happiness it is imperative that we act in alignment with our essential nature. One way of doing this is to become conscious of our latent gifts and hidden talents. According to the great Taoist Sages Lao Tsu and Chuang Tsu; all other things, such as wealth, power, and influence, are no more than a means to the end.  It is self-actualization: the awareness and experience of one’s authentic nature, and the development of one’s given talents that is the most desirable path to peace and happiness.

STUDENT: How can a person become aware of their authentic nature and develop their natural talents?

LEWIS: Aristotle, the great Greek philosopher said “Nature does nothing in vain.”  The easiest way to become aware of one’s authentic nature is through self-assessment. Through proactive self –assessment a person may come to live a self-actualized life, fully in spirit and with passion. This is called “Living Your Bliss”, by the great anthropologist, Joseph Campbell.

STUDENT:  How do you explore this with your coaching clients?

LEWIS: Through the exploration of the Nineteen Strategic Resources as a tool for self assessment

STUDENT: If one engages in self-assessment what comes next?

LEWIS: It is a multi-layered process. Self-Assessment for the most part is an intellectual, left-brain process. To achieve self-actualization one must engage in intuitive right-brain processes as well such as contemplation, introspection and meditation. This, in my experience, is the most desirable path to peace and happiness and self-actualization.

STUDENT: What is the best technique to employ to find one’s “bliss”?

LEWIS: You can cannot “find your bliss” by doing any one specific technique. It requires a consistent intention and daily self-assessment. As we learn more about ourselves and achieve greater awareness we continue to redefine ourselves

STUDENT: What changes take place as you redefine yourself?

LEWIS: As your self awareness expands there is a natural decrease in your interest in status symbols and those things that will impress others like a large house, expensive clothes, cars and jewelry. Instead you will begin to focus your energy on a personal level.

STUDENT: Are there specific levels or standards of awareness that one passes through on the way to self-actualization?

LEWIS: No. Each person is on his or her own individual path. In fact many of the individuals listed in my Ebook “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants”, would probably disagree with each other on certain key ideas and points concerning what made them extraordinary. No one has all the answers.

STUDENT: There must be some way to give more form to these concepts. Is there a particular theory on the process of self-awareness and actualization that you personally connect with?

LEWIS: One of my favorites is the “Three Planes of Thought”, articulated by E.F. Schumacher; considered by many to be one of the most visionary and influential economists of the last half of the twentieth century.

Learn more about Lewis at www.AskLewis.com

In May 1957 Schumacher gave a talk entitled ‘The Insufficiency of Liberalism’. In this talk, unrelated to 21St century definitions of liberalism or conservatism, he described what he termed the “three stages of development”. The first great leap, he said, was made when man moved from stage one of primitive religion to stage two of scientific realism. This was the stage modern man tended to be at. A few move to the third stage in which one can find the lapses and deficiencies in science and realism, and that there is something beyond fact and science. He called this stage three. The problem, he explained, was that stage one and stage three appear to be exactly the same to people stuck in stage two. Consequently, those in stage three are seen as having had some sort of a relapse into childish nonsense. Only those in stage three, can understand the differences between stage one and stage three.

STUDENT:  What are your thoughts on Freud, Marx and Einstein and their ideas on self-actualization?

LEWIS: These three are among the most influential thinkers of the nineteenth and twentieth century. I am not a psychiatrist, an economist or a physicist, so my opinion would not be authoritative in any sense. However; Schumacher who strongly supported the idea that we need to be personally responsible and accountable for our actions, felt that Freud, Marx and Einstein were negative agents to certain aspects of human potential. Mainly because, he felt; their ideas reinforced the increasingly common pattern where people felt less and less responsible for their actions.

STUDENT: Was Schumacher specific in his thoughts on this?

LEWIS: Yes. Schumacher saw Einstein as overly influenced by boundaries established by realism and science. Schumacher believed that there were some unchangeable and fundamental “truths” in life, and that Einstein, by undermining belief in absolutes through his concepts on relativity, also undermined personal morality, absolute moral codes, and personal responsibility for immoral actions.

STUDENT: What did Schumacher have to say about Freud?

LEWIS: Schumacher disagreed with Freud’s beliefs that perception was subjective and saw these ideas as overly self-centered. For Schumacher a self-centered reality inevitably led to a shift in attitude in human relations; from creating community and serving the needs of others to a reality where self-fulfillment was all that seemed to matter.

STUDENT: Being an economist Schumacher must have had strong opinions concerning Marx and Marxism?

LEWIS: As for Marx, Schumacher saw Marx as someone who sought scapegoats and created a philosophy that replaced personal responsibility with a victim mentality, built on a foundation of hatred and blame, accusing others for problems with society.

STUDENT: Why do you focus on Schumacher’s ideas? Certainly there are many thinkers, including Freud, Marx and Einstein who are better known and more influential than he was?

LEWIS: Schumacher’s ideas are more important today (2010) than ever before. This is particularly so due to the radical changes in the world economy, especially the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of China as an economic power in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Schumacher does not diminish the importance of Freud, Marx and Einstein. He recognizes that each of these individuals offered the world something of great value. All he is saying is that each of what they had to offer us has flaws. It is these flaws that fuel the question for human potential and self-actualization. This is why the best of who we are will become apparent only through our willingness to question and explore important ideas, as we also stand on the shoulders of the giants who have preceded us.

STUDENT:  Where does the concept of self-actualization connect to our own mortality?

LEWIS: Human life is limited, but wisdom expressed through the actualization of our full physical, emotional, and spiritual potential is virtually limitless.  To be attached and focused on the pursuit of the limited when presented with the limitless is foolish.

STUDENT: Are there certain things an individual needs to be aware of as they walk the path to self-actualization?

LEWIS: Yes. Learn to balance your wants and your needs and beware of ideologues and purists who will kill off the new just to maintain the old.

STUDENT: Is there a place for tradition and old wisdom in the process of self-actualization?

LEWIS: Yes, but not tradition just for tradition’s sake. This requires a balancing act as well. The self-actualized person is a reflection of the best in any tradition while transcending the worst in the same.  Such an individual is wary of those who will discard tradition and ignore “the Elders” who hold the truths hidden in these traditions, just so they can appear radical in behavior or visionary in thought.

STUDENT: Do you have any final thoughts on self-actualization?

LEWIS: Nothing definitive. Meditate daily, practice self-assessment, remember that there is a large distinction between what you want and what you need. Be kind, serve others, and live in Love. Create love and freedom in your life. What else is there to say?

The Secrets of Initiation

This is derived from a class I taught on the role of initation in making effective strategic choices in life.

Lewis Harrison


The basics of this class was:  To explore how an individual is accepted by a group through a specific rite, ritual, or ceremony.

Definition:  Initiation – A formal rite of passage, often a ceremony, marking entrance or acceptance into adulthood or into a certain level or formal component within a group or society.

 Q & A

STUDENT: What is the source of the word initiation?

LEWIS: It comes from the Latin, initium: “a going in.”  It was originally used to describe “an entrance” or “beginning”.  The English verb “initiate” means to begin or start a particular event, happening, action, or circumstance.

STUDENT: What is the importance of the initiation process for the individual and for a group?

LEWIS: An initiation not only formally defines the agreement between the initiate and the group, but the initiation process may also signify that a transformation or “rebirth” has taken place.

STUDENT: Anyone can simply say that a person has had a transformation through some ritual or ceremony.  What makes an initiation anything more than a new myth or story without any real substance?

LEWIS: A shift actually takes place in the most authentic initiations.  There is a real process involved in an initiation with substance.  The shift is both in the perspective of the initiate and of how the group views the new initiate.  The simplest way to describe the shift is to say that the initiate has earned and has been given a new role within the group or society of which he may already a member.

Examples of transformational initiations that signify a transformation in which the initiate is “reborn” into a new role may include the Jewish bar or bat mitzvah, a college graduation ceremony, a Christian baptism or Confirmation (Christian sacrament), a ceremony within a martial arts school where a student earns a higher level belt, a mystic school where an initiate is given “secret” codes or information.  Other examples include a fraternal organization, a secret society, a religious order, and a recruit training for a military or Para-military organization, such as a militia or the Mafia.

STUDENT: Why do we need initiations at all?  We certainly could survive without them.

LEWIS: It may be that human beings are hard-wired to join groups, and groups are hardwired to create some initiation process.  It may be that in order to function effectively in life we need support systems and boundaries that help define our relationships to these support systems.  An initiation is a formal way of creating a relationship where those who are at a more evolved, transformed, or influential level in a group guide the initiate through a process of greater exposure of knowledge specific to the group.

STUDENT:  Are there any common elements that might be found in most initiation ceremonies?

LEWIS: In most initiations, the individual conducting the initiation (the initiator) possesses or is believed to possess a specific power or state of being and has the ability to transfer this power or state to the person being initiated.  As a student of Shamanism, I went through such an initiation process.  I was introduced to certain words and certain meditation practices which I was told would open the “Inner Door” to certain insight and mystic knowledge.

STUDENT: What type of knowledge or access to knowledge is imparted at an initiation ceremony?

LEWIS: It may be essential factual information, such as what a post-graduate student might receive from his or her noble prize winning professor.  It may include secret mantras or words as are given in mystic yoga initiations, secret hand-shakes used by street gangs, and specific revelation of private symbols or codes that might be used in a secret society, such as the Masons.  Some information is reserved for those at the higher level of understanding within a group, a bishop or cardinal in the Catholic Church, for instance.

STUDENT:  Where does the concept of initiation fit in the process of self-actualization, especially in the life of an extraordinary person?

LEWIS: Self-Actualization comes in many ways.  If one has belief in religion, spirituality, or esoteric philosophies, an initiation may cause a fundamental process of change within the person being initiated.  Self-Actualization almost always involves some type of personal transformation.  This is also the case in most initiation processes. What most initiations have in common is the concept of simultaneous death and rebirth.  Initiation is an end and a beginning.  One level of being drops away as another ascends.

STUDENT: What role is the initiate expected to play in an initiation?

LEWIS: The willingness to be initiated in thought word and deed.  In many groups it implies that the initiate agrees to certain requirements such as living a certain lifestyle, prayer, meditation, etc.

STUDENT: Are their many initiation processes that have no relationship to religion, secrecy, or spirituality?

LEWIS: Yes.  In fact, most initiation ceremonies are secular.  In many groups the use of the word “initiation” represents a brief familiarization with basic rules, guidelines, codes, and procedures of the group.  Some groups may charge a one-time initiation fee.  Unions, professional associations, and many clubs would fit into this category.  Generally, you might say that there is the form of a specific ritual and then there is the function or the value of the initiation to the group.

STUDENT: Are all initiations formal?

LEWIS: There are many initiations, symbols, and rituals that are tied to specific communities that are unspoken and yet would be defined as a rite of passage.  They are not true initiations in that nothing is asked of the initiate.  It is merely a joint event in the community that a person has participated in.  An example might be a sports coach winning his or her 1,000th game or a baseball player hitting his 100, 200, 300 or 400th home-run.  For some individuals an initiation of sorts has taken place when they have crossed the equator on board a naval ship or as passengers on board a cruise liner.  There are, literally, thousands of such initiation rites, some with long histories behind them and some newly created.

STUDENT: What is the most common initiation practice in the world?

LEWIS: Probably puberty rites.  These are sacred collective rituals whose function is to facilitate the transformation of an adolescent to an adult.  There are records of puberty rites going back to the dawn of human history.

STUDENT: What is the most common form of spiritual, if not religious, initiation?

LEWIS: In the last few decades there has been an increased interest in different “New Age” and Shamanic approaches to initiation.  Some are quite serious and profound while others are no more than exercises in spiritual materialism.  Authentic Shaman initiations are generally limited to those few who have a passion and a calling to do inner work that is not accessible to the rest of the community but may ultimately serve the community.

STUDENT: What other types of initiations are there?

LEWIS: Aside from formal initiation ceremonies, there are often unofficial initiations held or practiced within subcultures of the larger group.  Many aboriginal tribes use initiation to both reflect and define the tribal identity. Initiations can include many different practices including: circumcision of males, genital mutilation of females, sub-incision and scarification.  In these cultures initiation truly is a rite of passage in every sense of the word; preparing a young person to be a good husband or wife.

STUDENT: How large does a group need to be to have an initiation?

LEWIS: There is no standard for this.  Initiation, formal and non-formal, exists in sub-cultures within larger groups.  Such small communities exist within groups like the Green Beret’s, Navy Seals, and on board military vessels.  Members of these groups are often tightly knit communities that are so internalized that they function like families, even after the initiate has left the military.  These subgroups, like the larger groups they are part of, may have a hazing or a trial before a new member can be formally accepted.

STUDENT: How extreme or dangerous can an initiation ceremony become?

LEWIS: They can get pretty extreme.  Of course, much college fraternity hazing is designed to be humiliating and can be dangerous without any deeper meaning of transformation.  It’s just about “belonging to the group” and doing anything one can to be accepted.

STUDENT: How long does an initiation ceremony take?

LEWIS: There is no way to define this since some initiations go beyond a single ceremony.  My Shamanic Initiation extended over the course of two days.  My Bar Mitzvah took a few hours.  In some Aboriginal cultures initiations may take 3-4 months or even longer.

STUDENT: Is initiation really important in our modern society?

LEWIS: I would say more than ever and yet the more modern a society is, the less likely that initiation and rites of passage will be taken seriously regarding an individual’s growth and development.  The anthropologist Joseph Campbell discusses this in his PBS (Public Broadcasting System) interviews with Bill Moyers.  Without initiation and rites of passage society loses much of its reason for being; and that which was once held as sacred is lost.  In some tribes initiation is essential if a person is to be regarded as a full member of the tribe.  Otherwise, the individual may not be allowed to participate in core social rituals and ceremonies.

STUDENT: Is there a sacred element to the concept of initiation that is separate from religion or spirituality?

LEWIS: Yes.  If we are hard wired to create community and to form groups (see the Level:  Community) then we must also have a reason for doing so.  The group, as well, must have a reason for existing.  This reason is sacred in that without it the community would have no reason for existing (see A Conversation: “What is Sacred?”).  Thus, initiation becomes sacred because it reconnects us to who we are, who we are to become, and where we are in the community.  The initiation process also reconnects the community to its own history, origins, mythology, and culture.

STUDENT: What are the greatest benefits of a truly transformational initiation?

LEWIS: There are many and they may vary from culture to culture.  Here is a list of the most universal benefits of initiation:

  • Ritual death or “Dying while Living” enables one to live life more fully and guide a person to conquer the fear of real death.”
  • To reveal the deeper meaning of our existence.
  • To help a young person to accept accountability for his or her actions, and to hold them to a higher standard so they may be powerful and effective participants in the group.
  • To make them aware, on a transcendental level, of whom they truly are.
  • To ground them in “what is” so they might be fully open and available for “what might be”.

STUDENT: It seems as if initiations are merely events that people give meaning to – a sort of cultural meme?

LEWIS: This may be so in some groups but there are initiations that are structured to bring individuals into an authentic transformation. Many of these initiations can bring a person into an altered state of consciousness.

STUDENT: Can you give me an example of some physically extreme initiation?

LEWIS: Some Native American tribes practice a “Sun Dance” that requires intense mental and physical endurance.  You may research “Sun Dance” to learn more.

STUDENT: Is there some kind of initiation in your work as a mentor and coach?

LEWIS: No.  This work is not spiritual, religious, or group oriented in that sense.  However, initiation is an important part of any transformational process.

STUDENT: Can you speak about the idea of initiation and “Rites of Passage” and how they connect with the stories we create?

LEWIS: We all seek power in our lives.  A person in possession of real power knows that we are all limited or empowered not by our experiences alone but by the stories we create about these experiences.  We create different life stories for a variety of reasons, some within our control and others not.  We can exert power over others and be controlled by others’ powers because of many different factors, some under our control and others beyond our control.  These factors may include gender, religious beliefs, cultural background, age, or general life circumstances.  The popular motivational author and lecturer, Leo Buscaglia, defined six stages in a person’s development.  These stages are infancy, childhood adolescence, maturity, intimacy, and old age.  Different types of power will be important to an individual based on where they are developmentally.  The stories they create and the stories they will cherish from the past will often reflect the stage they are presently in.


Lewis Harrison, the author of this blog is a speaker, consultant, and Contemporary Spiritual Teacher. He is a  pioneer in the personal development movement  The author of nine  self help books on human potential he offers seminar, workshops, retreats and phone based coaching. He is creating a series of ebooks entitled “Ask Lewis…” which will be available on line

Lewis offers phone-based and on-line life coaching services and created the course on Life Strategies www.LewisHarrisonsAppliedGameTheory.com  –  a simple system for decision making based on Game Theory, the idea expanded on by John Nash, the Nobel prize winning subject of the biopick “A Beautiful Mind”.




Lewis hosts a weekly radio show “What Up” that explore game theory. The show broadcasts Wednesdays and Thursday on WIOX 91.3 FM  – 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM (EST).  The show is also available as an internet stream at the same time period at WIOXRadio.org

Power and Influence in Game Theory

All games in life are defined in part by the back stories of the players in the game. A person in possession of real power knows that we are all limited or empowered not by our experiences alone but by the stories we create about these experiences. We create different life stories for a variety of reasons, some within our control and other not. We can exert power over others and be controlled by another’s power because of many different factors some under our control and others beyond our control. These factors may include gender, religious beliefs, cultural background, age and general life circumstances.  The popular motivational author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia defined six stages in a person’s development.  These stages are infancy, childhood adolescence, maturity, intimacy and old age.  Different types of power will be important to an individual based on where they are developmentally.

Power Can Open Any Door and get You Access to Anyone

When a person wields power without vision or focus they can determine, shape, give direction to, and affect the people around them as well as the surrounding environment in positive or negative ways. They can create wealth –even legally print money – influence through propaganda, build armies coerce, threaten violence and create havoc.

When a person wields power with vision and focus they can educate and effectively influence important decision makers. It generally accepted that when President Harry Truman was weighing the pros and cons of supporting a UN decision on the creation of the State of Israel it was the influence of his old friend and business associate in the haberdashery business back in Missouri that played an important role in swinging his support to the affirmative.

Among the most common types of power you will, see, hear about or experience in your life time are:

– Social influence: The ability to bypass “gate keepers” through interpersonal relationship.

– Power (sociology): Where one person may influence another.

Power (international) : Where one state may influence another.

Political power:  Directing the affairs of state.

Bribery:  The use of money or similar rewards to influence others.

-Wealth: The use of money to do whatever one wants to do onn ones own terms

– Cultural Domination: When one culture unfairly infects, overwhelms and eliminates a previously existing culture.

About the Author:

Lewis Harrison is an  speaker, consultant, and Contemporary Spiritual Teacher. He is a  pioneer in the personal development movement  The author of nine  self help books on human potential he offers seminar, workshops, retreats and phone based coaching.

He owns the NYC Chair Massage Company www.EventsChairMassage.com

He created the course on Life Strategies – www.LifeStrategyCourse.com  – based on Game Theory, the idea expanded on by John Nash the Nobel prize winning subject of the biopick “A Beautiful Mind”. Lewis holds regular stress management,  and meditation retreats at his Spa in the Western Catskills. Learn more at  www.TheHarrisonCenter.com

His company offers on-site chair massage through www.eventschairmassage.com

Lewis hosts a weekly radio show “What Up” that explore game theory. The show broadcasts Wednesdays, on WIOX 91.3 FM  – 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM (EST).  The show is also available as an internet stream at the same time period at WIOXRadio.org

NLP, Ericksonian Hypnosis and Applied Game Theory


NLP,  Ericksonian Hypnosis and Applied Game Theory


A great place to begin if you are interested in applying game theory to Life Strategies or in the structure of an  nlp course is the work of Milton Erickson.   Ericksonian Hypnosis is an artificially induced trance state characterized by  heightened  susceptibility  to suggestion. This technique  which  was developed by the  pioneering  psychiatrist Milton Erickson may,  strangely enough, takes place while an individual seems to be awake rather than apparently asleep which is generally associated with classical hypnosis techniques. This is  hypnosis for weight loss that gets to the core of a person’s psychological motivations.

Erickson was a pioneering  psychiatrist   who had  a  great  influence  on the work of those who created neuro-linguistic programming as well as the work of Anthony Robbins.  Erickson pioneered the idea that the “common experiences of wonderment, engrossment and confusion” are in reality just kinds of trance.

Sadly many nlp training course do not recognize Erickson as the source of what they are teaching


It might seem that Erisckson’s discoveries are revolutionary but they are
only in the secular sense. These ideas on influence and trance are central to many spiritual and religious disciplines, and are regularly employed by   evangelists,  cult leaders,  holy men,  gurus  and  military  strategists.

What then makes Erickson’s work so important? It was Erickson who first articulated these ideas fully as therapeutic tools in a secular framework. He taught that there is no one type of trance and there are many levels of trance. In fact there can be a blur between what is considered hypnotic or awake state.


Many people are familiar with the idea of a “deep” trance from watching hypnotists but when you are driving your automobile on the highway and automatically get off at the correct exit while listening to  your  favorite music this is a trance as well.




What make Erickson’s ideas so revolutionary is the fact that while this approach is being applied the individual is fully awake but in a covert way. You see Erickson  was  a  strong  proponent  of  the  idea  that  it  was  not  possible to consciously instruct the unconscious mind. He further asserted that if one attempted to impose an idea through authoritarian suggestions the response would be resistance.  The most effective way to influence the unconscious mind  is  through  what  Erickson called “artfully vague” metaphors, symbols and contradictions. Permissive hypnotic suggestion comes from an intuitive right brain source rather than a logical, strictly defined left brain source. The Life Strategies Course  – www.LifeStrategiesCourse.com – integrates these ideas in the application of influence to create greater efficiency and effectiveness in groups.


About the author: Lewis Harrison is an nlp coach and is the Director of the Harrison Center for  Personal Development www.TheHarrisonCenter.com, he is the creator of  and is the creator Life Strategies Course  – www.LifeStrategiesCourse.com