"Alain’s achievement is to use the language of today and to have devised a psychological method that immediately appeals to us, that is easy to understand and that is very effective. I cannot recommend this method too highly. It requires no guru, just continual understanding and practice. Every time any thought comes into the mind, it is an opportunity for growth."
FOREWoRD: DR PETER FENWICK
For millennia humans have sought to find out who they are, what is their place in the cosmos and how they can achieve their full potential as individuals. Some teachers have become fully awakened and it is the achievement of this state that is the growing point of spiritual evolution.
Alain Forget is one of the leaders of a new wave of philosophers who, through working on themselves, using the tools bequeathed to us by the ancient Masters, have achieved a breakthrough in his experience of consciousness.
A teacher can only teach when he understands the subject. The development of a wider state of consciousness is not something you understand. It is something that is experienced only after many years of practice and hard work on yourself.
Many of the early teachers had the same goals as Alain, an awakened state of consciousness, but their teachings come to us from different cultures and their words have different and subtle shades of meaning that are not easily accessible to their translators or to those of us from a Western culture who try to follow their methods to reach the same goals. Alain’s achievement is to use the language of today and to have devised a psychological method that immediately appeals to us, that is easy to understand and that is very effective.
His method is practical and involves a graded series of strategies which, if practiced sincerely and intensively, leads to understanding and, finally, to the dissolution of the ego.
He points out that the ego is mechanical and that the only thing we can do is to train a part of the ego to work on the ego. He reminds us that everything that we do or say or think is a manifestation of the ego. The goal is the ego-less state. He clearly explains that deep metaphysical questioning combined with psychological introspection can achieve that.
His method, the Four Ds, is a method for the 21st century. It is easy to understand and easy to apply.
Distancing – non-reactive attentiveness – Discernment – psychological introspection – Disidentification – the letting go which is the result of the two – and Discrimination – deep metaphysical self-questioning – are the steps that you must climb to loosen the ego and, finally, make it see that it is not.
I cannot recommend this method too highly. It requires no guru, just continual understanding and practice. Every time any thought comes into the mind, it is an opportunity for growth.
Dr Peter Fenwick
MB Bsc BChir FRCPsych, London.
"Many of us may have been fortunate enough in our schooldays to have been taught by a particularly inspiring teacher who was able to bring a subject to life. Alain Forget has, in my experience, an ability to do this in the most important subject there is, namely our very existence, or lack of it!"
FOREWORD: DR MARK COLLINS
I first met Alain Forget in 2003, little knowing that the meeting would have such a profound impact on my life. At the time I was, and indeed still am, a busy psychiatrist practicing in London. My daily work involves listening to people talking about themselves, their fears, their guilt, the things that made them feel bad. You might identify addictive behaviors, dysfunctional relationships, unhealed wounds from the past or any number of things that lead to people being stuck in a repetitive cycle of pain. Mine are the conventional tools of psychiatry and I would seek to help people through therapy, medication and sometimes hospitalization.
I have always been open to a more holistic approach and am happy to work with some alternative practitioners, but the ‘spiritual’ side of things was seldom an avenue that I explored. It is only more recently that I have realized that the patient lying on the couch and the monk sitting in a cave in the Himalayas are essentially seeking the same thing.
My own background includes a moderately conventional English upbringing, my father, a clergyman, always emphasizing that his Christian faith was based on doubt, or it would not be faith but certainty. As a late teenager (in the 1960’s) I was introduced to Eastern religions and philosophies, and spent a year travelling in India. There seemed to be something more alive, a more profound resonance within me provoked by what I read and studied in a somewhat dilet-tanteish way. Metaphysical questions presented themselves, but were then overtaken by life as my ego sought to define its existence more clearly.
The next several decades were the usual roller-coaster of experiences, some happy, some sad, successes and failures, relationships forged and broken, that represent my life history. From time to time the metaphysical questions would resurface, often after painful episodes, only to be forgotten again as I set about unconsciously repeating the same old patterns. Occasionally, in a moment of clarity, I would recognize that inside I had not fundamentally changed since childhood, and that various very basic emotions, such as fear, were driving me.
This was the backdrop against which I met Alain Forget. Out of politeness to a friend I went reluctantly to a talk he was giving, with no idea of what to expect. His talk was a distillation of the contents of this book and it engaged me intellectually. There was simultaneously an excitement generated by the clarity, simplicity yet profundity of what I was hearing, along with a critical dialogue in my head about those things with which I disagreed or thought to be nonsense. The closer it came to ‘my’ territory of psychology, the more I challenged what I heard.
At the same time I was reacting strongly at a non-verbal level, and during a period in the talk when Alain sat in silence, along with the thirty or so people in the room listening to him, I experienced something extraordinary. There was an array of very specific sensory, particularly visual, phenomena, linked to an emotional cascade which was hugely powerful and remarkable, especially for not having been at all anticipated, and also for the fact that I was simultaneously able to observe myself having the experience. I later learned that my experience was a common one, and Alain describes the phenomena in a very matter-of-fact way in his book. Without a doubt it changed the course of my life irrevocably.
Since then I have tried to meet Alain each month when he visits London, and have sought to follow his advice. This has been an extremely interesting experience, not the least for the observations of the ways in which I have resisted change. An earlier version of this book simply entitled ‘The Four Ds’, was dutifully read by me and then subjected to critical analysis. Perhaps, I thought, I could correct Alain on the more obvious mistakes he had made in the psychological sections of the book. I am reasonably intelligent, and pride myself on having a particularly good memory, so was surprised to find that on each meeting with Alain I invariably failed to remember what all four of the Ds stood for. I could usually manage three but never all four even if I did a spot of quick revision just before the meeting.
When I finally confessed my amnesia, Alain roared with laughter and indicated that his French students, whom he had been teaching for considerably longer, often had the same problem. I had experienced my first encounter with the awesome power of the ego in defending itself when under attack. Not for nothing does Alain’s surname mean what it does when pronounced in the English manner!
In similar fashion, I had a huge problem with Alain linking the development of guilt with the pain of birth. I read and reread the passages about this, becoming more and more indignant each month, arguing with Alain, and reaching a point where I seriously considered discontinuing seeing him. Needless to say, in a moment of catharsis, I was able to see clearly that my protestations were based on denial of my own core of guilt. This process has repeated itself frequently, but fortunately Alain is a patient teacher.
Many of us may have been fortunate enough in our schooldays to have been taught by a particularly inspiring teacher who was able to bring a subject to life. Alain Forget has, in my experience, an ability to do this in the most important subject there is, namely our very existence, or lack of it! By practicing the Four Ds and following the suggestions and understanding the teachings outlined in the book, I have moved further and faster than I was able to over the years in my conventional therapy. The way I work professionally has also changed. This book, as Alain says, is a map. It provides clear instructions on what to do and where to go. Reading it and rereading it has for me been an illuminating experience, one which I hope may bring as much pleasure and growth to others as it has to me.
MA MB BS MRCP MRCPsych, London.