I used to live in the Western countries including the UK where I stayed for 15 years and in the Sahara Desert, between 1981 and 2001.
When I was living in London, I was extensively trained by the very top NLP trainers, and began to teach NLP in Japan after coming back to my native country in 2001. I have since held a number of certification courses for a total of over 1,500 students.
The main reason why I deliberately left the English speaking environment in 2001 and decided to dedicate myself solely to the NLP training in Japanese vis-a-vis Japanese people was that I had previously gone through a series of radical self-transformations through NLP, which I would define as a “methodology for continually getting out of one’s own box (mind, frame of reference, model of the world, presuppositions, etc.) and for expanding one’s own identity and consciousness on a perpetual basis,” and was firmly convinced in 2001 that this “mind-blowing” psychology, which can definitely be regarded as a “child” of the Counter-culture Movement of the sixties, and which I have only recently begun to describe as a “psychological epitome of cognitive expansionism,” could bring revolutionary breakthroughs to the minds of the whole Japanese nation, so that they may become more spiritually creative and psychically integral.
Well, if I am to be very honest, I now have to confess that this well-intended endeavor on my part has “utterly” failed (!). I will be able to forever go on enumerating an infinite number of small and big incidents I have encountered in Japan for the last 15 years, which have gradually led me to a great disappointment about my own spiritual venture, but would like to mention below only a few number of such incidents:
1) First of all, when I initially started to teach NLP in Japan, I was often literally dumbfound to find that the majority of Japanese students in NLP didn’t come to the industry to achieve their self-transformation, self-realization, inner freedom, etc., but did so only with the aim of obtaining certification papers (!). (One of the students of mine once rather proudly said to me that she had forgotten everything she had been taught by me in the courses in which she had participated several months previously, as if having wasted a lot of money in this way had been her medal of honor.) This was sheerly beyond my comprehension.
Also, the general interest of the whole NLP industry in Japan unfortunately seems to be after all only in how to make money with NLP.
2) I have discovered for the last 15 years that Japanese people in general seemingly don’t “cogitate” (i.e., use their left brain). I think that their ability to think in an abstract way is much lower than that of Western people.
For instance, when I was intensively being trained by the co-founders of NLP, especially by John Grinder, I found that there are similarities among mathematical formulas, linguistic drills, and NLP exercises.
Namely, in mathematics, if you have an abstract formula like “a + b = c,” you can apply any concrete number to “a” and “b” to obtain the necessary answer “c;” in the case of the English language, if you have the syntactical formula “Subject + Verb + Object,” you can “concretize” it, for instance, as “I love you,” in order to have a decent conversation with an English speaking person. Likewise, I found that there existed the formula “Problem + NLP Exercise = Solution,” and I was repeatedly surprised to find that, each time I applied a certain NLP exercise (or technique) to any of my problems in the daily life, that problem was nearly instantaneously solved by itself (!).
I now believe that Japanese people in general are so entangled with the concreteness of their daily life that they simply don’t seem to be able to believe that NLP exercises can change their in-brain programmings which are the very causes of the details of their behaviors.
3) With regard to the fact “that Japanese people in general seemingly don’t ‘cogitate’,” I can further mention two things:
One, I had a chance to publish 108 aphorisms a la Guhen through my Facebook page in 2011. I specially uploaded all the 108 aphorisms for your reference at one of the pages on this site:
At that time, I published an aphorism a day for 108 days, but didn’t receive practically any comments or feedback from the readers who had a look at these aphorisms, except for one of my British friends, with whom I exchanged a series of messages in English.
I believe that Japanese people in general are not up to decent philosophical discussions.
Two, in the last few month, I published on my Web site a few number of essays written in Japanese related to my recent study of influential neuroscientists like Joseph LeDoux and Stanislas Dehaene, as well as to the important history books “Sapiens” and “Homo Deus” by Yuval Noah Harari (I intend to translate these essays on my online newsletter in English).
I have not got any tangible feedback from the readers to any of these essays either. I had to conclude that the level of Japanese people’s intelligence may be alarmingly low.
4) I also found that Japanese people consider being unique or different from others to be an anathema or spiritual suicide to them. I believe that NLP is by nature a methodology to seek to be more and more individual and unique.
What is interesting here is that, by way of illustration, no Japanese people dare to cross the road at the red traffic light even when there is no car passing and no apparent danger exists; they might rather decide to cross the road only if ALL of the pedestrians on the spot decide to do so together (!).
5) I came to find crucial aspects about why Japanese people are not amenable to such a behavior-altering methodology as NLP, after I left the NLP industry a few years ago and started to work as an executive life coach for my individual clients.
I often was surprised to hear from rather intelligent clients that they were not able to make head or tail of how to use NLP techniques to “change the reality of their daily life.” When I heard them making this kind of comments, I first was not able to believe them, because, as far as I was concerned, the formula “Problem + NLP Exercise = Solution” simply worked fine with me, and automatically enabled me to continually and rather easily change my inner reality.
It took some while until I finally discovered that Japanese people in general believe that their reality is an absolute entity (as something which exists in an a priori way), which they are not supposed to to be able to change in any way (one of my executive clients went so far as to make the comment “How can a human being dare to try to change the ‘sacred’ reality given to us by God?”, which, by the way, may be the most aptly epitomizing the mentality of Japanese people about this issue); what they can do vis-a-vis their “sacred” reality is only for them to do pure mental rehearsals before the bad thing happens – probably while praying to God so that such a thing may not happen – and to “console” themselves by changing the way they remember the bad thing after “it” happened.
In other words, I found that they could wisely use, for instance, the Anchoring technique (a typical NLP model) to prepare themselves for a certain crisis through doing mental rehearsals beforehand AND to make themselves feel better after the crisis in question has gone, BUT that it NEVER EVER had occurred to them that they could use the same Anchoring technique at the very moment of the crisis.
Now, this situation is like placing the cart before the horse, and I believe that it is something which denies, and goes against, the very “raison d’etre” of NLP (!).
After this unbelievable discovery, I had to continue to ponder for weeks and months over what is the crucial difference between Western NLP practitioners who can wisely change their inner reality and Japanese counterparts who can use NLP only for their mental rehearsals and consolation but cannot change their “untouchable” reality at all.
Then, I later finally came to the conclusion, after a long period of deliberation, that, in the West, there had been a number of “pre-NLP” disciplines such as psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, counseling, coaching, meditation, etc., where the clients usually could sooner or later get deep insights eventually enabling them to recognize that everything they were experiencing may be projections from the past, and that people do what they do because of the in-built programmings (I here specifically am reminded of the Human Potential Movement a la Esalen Institute in the sixties).
Also, I think that Counter-culture of the sixties was obviously another important “pre-NLP” element. It goes without saying that the consciousness-expanding substances hippies were fond of greatly contributed to how “pre-NLP” people were able to discover that their ordinary state of consciousness was not an absolute and fixed one, but rather one of many possible states, and to thus “relativize their inner reality.”
Thus, the problem for the “pre-NLP” Westerners was not any more whether the solid reality existed, but rather how they could change it for better so that they may become happier with it, and I understand that this is how and why NLP was brought into being.
Unfortunately, in Japan, there hadn’t been practically any disciplines mentioned above, nor had Counter-culture existed, prior to NLP. No wonder why Japanese students who come to study NLP without any such advance background cannot believe that their reality is nothing but relative and can be changed in the way it pleases them.
I think that I can safely, albeit unfortunately, conclude that the majority of the Japanese nation still live within the 400 hundred year old Cartesian-Newtonian paradigm, while other (mainly Western) modern nations in general have already begun to function and think, rather basing themselves on Cognitive Expansionism, within such paradigms as Quantum Mechanics, Virtual Reality, Cyberspace, etc., where, practically speaking, literally everything can be relativized. In this sense, the widely held view that Japanese people, as Zen Buddhists, may be specialists in tapping the inner space of Emptiness a la Buddha intrinsically alluded by the prevailing modern paradigms, is unfortunately just a myth (!).
6) By the way, the reason why I personally didn’t fall victim to such a spiritual predicament like other Japanese people was that, after I graduated from a university in Tokyo at the age of 25, I went to the Sahara Desert as a French-Japanese interpreter, and then was initiated by an Indian guru on the West Coast at the age of 27 – I took part in a 7 month long residential psychotherapeutic course in my guru’s commune in Oregon – and went through the process of the Counter-culture revolution in my own style in a belated way when I lived in London, before coming to know about NLP in 1988. Thus, my mind used to be very westernized and still is so.
Also, in the process of discovering that Japanese paradigm is so different that NLP per se may not be after all so effective to them, I have fortunately succeeded in modeling how I know that my programmings produce and determine my behaviors – which is related to the “Intention/Result” model in NLP – as well as how I can relativize my reality.
I have created a series of my own explicit, say, magick-like techniques on the basis of these modelings. I have not had final say as to how much effective they are to Japanese people, with a view to enabling them to get out of their own boxes, but firmly believe that these unique techniques of mine will turn out to be of great value to Westerners, all the more because they will make them consciously aware of what they have been so far doing unconsciously – they usually don’t need to dare to make explicit what they have been successfully doing in a natural way – while taking it for granted.
7) I have been more or less mentioning the spiritual predicament in which Japanese people find themselves, as well as the possible solutions for them to get out of it, such as the unique techniques I have lately developed, in the recent issues of my online newsletters in Japanese, but, unfortunately, my suggestions appear to have fallen on deaf ears (laughs). I once had a comment from one of my advisers that my recent remarks on the topic in question had been becoming more and more “pathetic” (laughs).
I think that I need to by now come to the reluctant conclusion, against my will, that Japanese people would not like to be awaken into “cognitive expansionism” and/or become a “psychonaut,” but to continue to stay in the cozy, lukewarm water like a “frog in the well,” about which I feel I have nothing I can do any more after these sincere efforts to want to assist them to get out of their own boxes on my part for the last 15 years.
This is the main reason why I decided to start to become active exclusively in the English speaking environment again.
I will use this Web site “A Psychonaut’s Monolog” as the main base for propagating my messages for the international audience. The above mentioned friend of mine in the UK once advised me that “it would be perhaps interesting for him [Guhen] to make his online presence even more global by sending his messages out in (at least) more English.”
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The above is rather my “anthropological” report – or my cross-cultural analysis, for that matter – based on my own experiences in Japan for the last 15 years.
I do hope that this report/analysis will be of interest and of great help especially i) to a small number of Japanese people (who can read my writing in English and) who are really desperate to get out of their own boxes, ii) to high-ranking Japanese corporate people who want to produce international innovative entrepreneurs in Japan for the first time in its history, and iii) to Western executives based abroad or in Japan who would like to understand idiosyncratic behaviors and mentality of their Japanese counterparts.
Be that as it may, I would like to start to provide Westerners with a comprehensive and in-depth set of know-hows about how to effectively communicate with Japanese people from the point of view of cross-cultural communications.
If you are interested in my executive consultancy services of the nature I described above, please contact me via the “Contact” page.