Trading Beyond the Matrix:Insights
The following letters were recieved in response to a contest that began in May of 2013. For the contest, we asked readers to tell us about the one most profound insight that they got from reading Van's book, Trading Beyond the Matrix, and how it had impacted their life.
How Did I Get Here?
I have been trading professionally for about 6 years now with a proprietary firm. I have had some very successful periods mixed with some periods of what I use to view as huge missed opportunities. However, they have all lead me to be where I am presently, which is in the now. This is a state I have never really achieved all my life apart from maybe a year in very early adulthood. How did I get here?
I had 3 months off earlier this year, where I changed companies. It was not a great time to be out of the market as there was so much opportunity in the product that I trade, but I believe those 3 months had so much more impact on my life and on my trading. I discovered Trading Beyond the Matrix and read it cover to cover in about a week. It was a great read but I got probably 5% of the real benefit from it the first time as I skimmed through the exercises. The book did however introduce me to Oneness, and given I wanted to practice meditation more frequently I thought I would attend a Oneness group here in Hong Kong. The first deeksha night I attended was actually in the presence of a Oneness meditator from the US, so in hindsight I was quite 'lucky' (now I refer to it as a miracle). I kept attending these deeksha nights, and had some great conversations with Karuna who runs the center. He suggested I go to India for a Deepening Process. I had the time available to me and from Hong Kong its not far so I thought why not (again, another miracle, but at the time I did not identify with it as such).
So about a month after my first deeksha night, I was in India (with many miracles involving airlines and visas). I seemed to be a real outlier in that most attendees had been involved with Oneness for years and planned their time there way in advance. When I told them how I ended up there, 'Wow' was the common response. Little did I know that my Divine had paved the way for all this, something for which I will be eternally grateful.
I tried to keep a very open mind about Oneness and just experience the time I had there, but I must admit some doubts and reservations existed as I really knew very little about the Oneness movement. These doubts and reservations seemed to melt away as my deepening process continued. I found a book at the temple, Awakening into Oneness, (another miracle). This book helped my analytical part to satisfy itself that Oneness was not a cult or money making scam (these criticisms were some of the first things I came across when I googled Oneness).
No matter how people describe their experiences in the process, unfortunately they can never really truly convey the experience itself. I had feelings of absolute bliss, god realizations and experiencing pure consciousness. I cannot even come close to helping the reader know what these experiences are actually like, but I will say they are beyond this world and reality as I use to know it. I actually now see that old reality as an illusion. I will describe the changes in my state.
Before the Deepening Process:
The most amazing part of what transpired with all this, is all this happened in an automatic way. For many many years, I use to work at getting to 'there'. I read the Sedona method, tried to read ACIM about 3 times, and tried various other processes. In short, I had a part that thought the knowledge of such things would help me progress. I don't think I am alone when I say that after you gained the knowledge of a process, and trying a few times without any great results you would look for something else.
Now I am 'here' but it is just the very beginning. I now meditate on a daily basis because I want/choose to meditate on a daily basis. I give gratitude for many little things throughout the day, not as a chore, but because it feels great to do so and we should be grateful for these gifts. Further, I look back at this period and don't view anything in isolation. That is, I could feel changes taking place before I got to India, and attending my first Deeksha night came after reading Trading Beyond the Matrix and maybe something that was previously undesirable lead me to read this book. There is no chance, it happened as it was meant to happen.
Where am I know?
As you can see from the above, I am very much onboard with VTI. I read Market Wizards years ago and skimmed over the last chapter thinking thats not so much for me. How far from the truth I was...now, but I was correct back then as it was not for me...then.
Lastly, I have to say to anyone that is looking for a good place to start with Van's work, there really is no better place than Trading Beyond the Matrix. It is in itself a standalone course that if followed as intended by its creator, can bring you a huge amount of benefit for a fraction of the price (but not the work required by the individual) of all the other materials. That being said, I think I still have only uncovered not even half the benefit and rest assured I will be working through the equivalent of the Super traders program in due course. At the very least, its a good read for any trader.
Van, I would like to commend and congratulate you on what you have created and are helping people achieve, it is truly wonderful.
The last year has been fabulous for me and my family with so many small and not-so-small "miracles". It started in October, 2012 at a Van Tharp Institute Oneness weekend where so many of the Oneness concepts I learned felt wonderful inside. That same weekend, I started readingTrading Beyond the Matrix and I was particularly taken by Chapter 10. With full sincerity from his heart, Van shared his experiences discovering his internal guidance. Van’s story touched a fiber deep in me and awakened a desire to explore that path and maybe discover my own inner guidance.
Shortly after the Oneness weekend and reading Trading beyond the Matrix, I attended the Super Trader summit in December 2012. It was there that I came to understand that I would be stuck in the same place I had been if I didn't find out what my Spiritual beliefs were. Oneness concepts felt really positive and intuitively so I wanted to explore them deeper. I had to ask myself several questions, however, if these truths were truly universal: "Why do I have to take them from a bunch people from India?" and "Could I find confirmation for the concepts somewhere closer to my South American upbringing?"
I decided to visit with my nanny in Caracas, Doña Carmen Paz. She practices "Santería". I had seen her cure my mom from culebrilla (a skin illness) by spitting tobacco, smoking and saying some prayers on her. As a kid, I overheard her telling my Mom, with a sense of urgency that she wanted to liberate me from a "mal de ojo" that someone had put on me, and did some similar rituals on me.
During my visit, Doña Carmen explained to me, in very raw but beautiful terms, that we all needed to be balanced in the different regions of the body in order to be able to connect to God, and she pointed to seven places in the body. I asked myself internally, “Could these be the Chakras the Indian guys talk about?”
Continuing to look for confirmation, I read books about Shamanism. I was shocked to discover the similarities between Shamanism and the Oneness teachings. The Inca language used the exact same word for "chakra" (pronounced the same way) and they referred to the same 7 in the body and with the same functions (they also thought of an 8th chakra where the 7 chakras go to at death, and a 9th chakra which is basically God). This was the confirmation I was looking for about the universal truths that I heard from “the bunch on Indians from Oneness” (I had first heard the word Chakra from them).
I checked on my Catholic beliefs and found that some of them were very troubling. For example, “Jesus is the only son of God”. We all are sons and daughters of God and the best, pure essence within each of us IS God. I also found that some early Christians were looking inward instead of outward (Gnostics), and that many Christians still did, somewhat outside the canons.
Although this next series of events may not sound like a part of a spiritual journey initially, it truly was. During the week of the ST Summit in 2012, I was arrested in Cary for a DUI. For 3 weeks, I was not allowed to drive a car. The experience helped me realize how I create my own reality and how much I appreciate my freedom.
As a consequence of the DUI arrest, I had to attend 12 group therapy sessions. In that program, I met a lot of folks in severe trouble. At the end of the 5th session, I asked the facilitator if I could say a prayer. After that, people opened up in a wonderful way that made the second half of the therapy unforgettable.
In the following sessions, I found myself very much enjoying helping others discover:
I was putting my Big I, the Divine part of me, my Divine, up in front. For the first time I understood what my grandmother always said: "pon siempre a Jesús por delante" (always put Jesus up in front). It seemed to put people at ease and allowed them to open up in formidable ways. I decided to continue to put Jesus up in front and asked God to be in front of me as often as possible; always asking Him to make me an instrument of His peace (one Christian/Catholic teaching that always felt good inside me). Jesus naturally came up as the representation of my internal guidance.
In deciding to be loving, I had to turn as many stones in my life as I could. My goal is to leave not a single one unturned:
Those are the big stones, and now I am working on the smaller ones.
So, it's been a wonderful year for me and my family. I am fortunate to have read Trading Beyond The Matrix and very grateful to Van and all the co-authors. The book ignited this wonderful process that I am lucky to be living. I am infinitely grateful to my Divine for taking charge, for being up in front, and I continue to ask Him to make me always an instrument of His peace.
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|Cristina Sau* WINNER|
I first heard of Dr. Van Tharp in Jack Schwager’s book, “Market Wizards”. Although the book had very interesting life and trading stories, it was the chapter with Dr. Van Tharp that spoke directly to me.
At that point, I had already invested over a year’s worth of time and money into becoming a successful trader. I had bought books, attended seminars, set up a brokers account, paper traded and traded for real. Things seem to be going in the right direction as far as paper trading was concerned, but somehow I could not transfer the same good results to my real trading.
It was clear to me that the problem was in myself and my psychology because the only difference between paper trading and real trading was my mind-set, my feelings and my emotions.
Dr. Van Tharp’s chapter in “Market Wizards” was the first thing I had read that shed a light on my problem. Here was a man of science saying that trading is 100% psychology and I believed him because I was living through it.
After that, I signed up for the Van Tharp Institute’s newsletter and started getting familiar with the Van Tharp Institute’s books and courses. I remember thinking that the courses were so interesting and that once I started making real money with trading I would take some of these courses. Since I had quit my previous occupation as a management consultant to dedicate myself completely to becoming a trader, I had not had any income for years and therefore was measuring my expenses very carefully.
I purchased his book on Electronic Day Trading and by the beginning of 2013 I was already standing by to get “Trading Beyond the Matrix”.
The book finally came to me in June 2013 with a bunch of other books that I bought at the same time. Saving the best for last, I finally got to read “Trading beyond the Matrix” in November 2013.
The depth and honesty in which the book is written was surprising and unexpected to me. I was hoping to find a lot of content on psychology but did not expect to find the in-depth spiritual transformational journeys that it presents in such a candid manner.
I was so involved and seduced by Dr. Van Tharp’s story, along with the Super Trader’s stories that I wanted it for myself. I knew that in order to have that I needed to finish the book.
Reading it was easy, but as it happens with all of Dr. Van Tharp’s books, they are not only meant to be read, they are also meant to be done. Doing “Trading beyond the Matrix” was a much tougher job than reading it, but I knew that was where the real reward was.
One of the first lessons from the book that I put into practice was gratitude. Although I have always been a spiritual person I never learned how to meditate; and although I had always believed in a Higher Power, I never really had a close relationship with it.
So I decided to start and finish my days with a list of gratitude to my Higher Power. The effect of gratitude alone was enough to make the book worth reading. The power ofgratitude is incredible. It was so liberating to focus on all the positive things and the infinite generosity of the universe instead of focusing on the negative. My lists became longer every day.
As the gratitude lists increased, the presence of my Higher Power became clearer and closer. Just as the Super Traders described in the book, I believed that my Higher Power loved me and had a wonderful life planned for me. I realized that whenever I sabotaged myself I drove myself away from my Higher Power and from that wonderful life.
With these beliefs growing stronger within me, things started to happen on the outside. I finally reached my goal weight, something that I had been working on for the past 3 years since I began my journey away from obesity.
I also got the clear realization that I should not keep trading with real money as it would be useless practice until I got proper education. Around the same time, I received a Van Tharp Institute newsletter promoting the Peak Performance 101 Course at a discounted rate.
Even at a discounted rate and adding the flight and hotel costs it was a significant expense for me, considering that I had received no income for the past 2 years. I was not sure I should make the investment but I felt my Higher Power strongly directed me there. It was surprising how easy it was to find and book convenient flights and hotels even coming from the remote place I live in.
Having this closer relationship with my Higher Power was like having an engine propelling me forward in the right direction. If it had not been for the book and the lessons in gratitude and connection with my Higher Power, I think I would have never overcome my fear of uncertainty and would not have signed up for the course.
I also received a clear message from my Higher Power that I was to give 100% commitment to everything that would take place in the course. I should not hold anything back and give myself completely with no judgment. That was my only mandate. As it turned out, the course was pivotal in my journey of self discovery.
In one of the course’s sessions we did a sort of meditation/regression with the objective of finding out old feelings that have been with us almost all our lives and that are holding us back. Until that moment I had never been subject to such procedure of regression so I did not know what to expect. But I followed the instructions of my Higher Power and plunged into it.
I have such a vivid recollection of what happened in that regression that it feels like the memory of something that happened in the real world as opposed to inside my mind. The image might not make enough sense to be described but the important thing is that I discovered the underlying feeling that was holding me back all my life: guilt.
Following the lesson, the instructors taught us to release those feelings. It was a very emotional moment for me. I felt that something had really changed. It felt like my core, my DNA had shifted and re-arranged.
After that there were a series of things that happened in that course/trip that seemed like a domino effect of positive things. There are too many happy encounters to list them all here but it was everything from winning enough money in the trading game to cover my hotel bill, to having the airline move my reservation to a much better seat than I had before. All these little things seem irrelevant on their own, but put together they formed a chain of positivity that I had never experienced before.
The course finished with a Oneness Blessing which was another life changing event for me. The surge of energy that I felt in the moment stayed with me and seemed to multiply. That night, back at my hotel room I could not sleep and had to go for a 10k run in the middle of the night to release some of the stored energy.
Back home I was determined to keep on that journey and find other ways to develop my relationship with my Higher Power and actively participate in Oneness.
So I went back to the “Trading beyond the Matrix” to apply the learnings of the course and do chapter 12 step-by-step.
The first steps in chapter 12 tell us to identify all our parts and their beliefs and then do a belief paradigm assessment for each belief. It is a long and strenuous process. I discovered many things about myself and about the people in my life. Some things are not pleasant and stir up very negative feelings. But somehow, having released my guilt in the Peak 101 course and having applied the same process to other negative feelings made it very easy to get rid of useless beliefs.
This is a process that I repeat almost every day as I am constantly aware of my feelings and rid myself almost immediately of any negativity that shows up. It becomes increasingly easy and now it seems that negative feelings cannot stick. My guilt was like Velcro in which all the negative feelings and useless beliefs would stick and stay. Now I have removed the Velcro and nothing stays.
Again, the external effects of getting rid of negative feelings and beliefs have been too many to list, but here are the most important categories:
There are 9 steps in chapter 12 and I am only starting on step 5. Nevertheless, these are all the changes and impacts I can already report. I am eager to move on in my journey and curious about all the potential yet to be unlocked.
The book lives on my bed-side table because I read it very often. It has served as the great catalyst of all these chain events that unfolded and it remains an invaluable guide. I am grateful that Dr Van Tharp wrote it, I am grateful that it reached me, I am grateful that I could read it. I am grateful.
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Rational vs. Psychological
I’ve often wondered whether I am now, or ever was a typical reader of Van Tharp’s work on transformation, for I’ve spent my working life as (I thought) a super rational litigation lawyer, where success came from hard work and hard logic, and my inner self had little relevance. I’ve never had any interest in personal development, nor in any formal or informal religion nor in any relationship with any form of god. I, and others in the courtroom, might have come into work with pursed lips after some marital misunderstanding or might have uttered a few heartily felt expletives when the unforeseen happened, but that was about the size of
my appreciation of the non rational, or of reactions to rational errors.
Some years ago, I became dissatisfied with the lawyer’s life and left it at age 50, believing that the same hard work and logic that had served me well there would be all that was needed when fashioning a new life, trading on my own. I’m no longer embarrassed to admit that I followed the path that many books recount — great good luck for a year, then great stupidity for the next. I ended up back where I’d started and was saved then, and since, by the only truly useful “luck” that I had — I instinctively position sized very small, and cut my losses. My problem was the hit rate and the inadequate profits, but that instinct kept me in the game while I learned more. I had been working hard all this time acquiring Technical Analysis and trade management skills and initially concluded that the problem must be my skill levels. Another year went by, and at the end of it I had not hit any of the modest trading targets set, but had established by comparison with colleagues that my TA skillset was as good as the best I knew. And certainly better than many who said they were doing better than I was.
Well the only rational response to that data was to conclude that something else wasn’t right. Assuming that it was true that some people made a good living trading technically, then if it wasn’t about the skill set it had to be about the guy who was (or was he?) applying the skills. At that stage I saw the question as being “why wasn’t I making good decisions”. A very difficult question to someone who had 25 years evidence of very good decision making in the law. So I set out down the road of studying the how’s and why’s of my subjective influence on what I saw as being an objective process. Of course I came to Van Tharp’s book Trade Your Way... quite quickly, and there I found enormous wisdom, quite eye-opening commentary and a huge amount to come to terms with. But I also found a bit of commentary that turned out to hold me up quite considerably in the months and years that followed. I found the resolution to that issue in the Matrix, and it is unquestionably the insight that has most impacted my life since reading the book.
I haven’t gone back to check the earlier commentary, but I remember it as being to the effect that Trading Systems were 30% logical and 70% psychological. In the context of that book and of my personal development at the time this seemed an utterly sensible belief to me, which I adopted immediately, and used many times to understand many issues. It became a little confused in my mind with the 80/20 rule widely known in other circles, which was very unhelpful, but anyway, my bottom line belief was that many processes were 20 or 30 % rational (objective) and 70 or 80 % psychological (subjective). I didn’t see the approach as limited to trading. My pastime is dancing, an activity requiring some skill, but it could be seen as within that 30-70% analysis. So can playing golf. Then with a bit of thought it became clear that it had much wider application. In other words, I adopted that belief hook line and sinker, and thought it must be right.
I wasn’t then thinking in terms of whether beliefs were useful, I was expecting them to be right or wrong But after some considerable time I came to know that it wasn’t useful. That belief allowed me to conclude that my lack of success was down to two issues — the logic of the trading system, and the psychology. I was finding dealing with the psychological issues to be extremely difficult. It’s the first step of actually identifying the issue that I found hard. Once it’s identified (which effectively means “admitted”) I found subsequent steps to be much easier. I’m good at discipline, but only when I understand what I have to be disciplined about. For example I realized quite easily that I was chasing the price as it went away from my entry signal, because once I started looking in the right place I could quite easily feel the emotions, indeed the compulsion, in my body as I did it. So that got cut. But it was about the only clear success. And of course my belief gave me a get out of jail card–if you can’t fix the psychology, then fix the trading system. So countless hours were effectively wasted improving my rational skillsets. I now see it as training to be an astronaut when I needed to learn how to ride a bike in balance. And if you’re spending countless hours doing the one thing, you’re definitely not doing the other.
Matrix sorted out that Gordian knot in no uncertain terms. 100% of trading is psychological. Period. Van Tharp’s earlier 30/70 split was misleading and not useful and he was changing it. Whoa, that was a shock. His earlier book had sounded right. What’s going on here? And what about all those skills I just learned. They’re all 100% rational, and many of them statistically proven in terms of probability. If trading is 100% psychological then what are the Stats doing? And would he now be saying, if asked, that Golf was 100% psychological?. It can’t be, can it?. Better clubs hit the ball better and further, don’t they? It’s that fitter, stronger and more agile men hit the ball longer and straighter than I do because they have those skills, isn’t it?... and so on. But it didn’t take long for the lightning bolt in his new belief to strike through my resistance to it.
It’s not just that the book powerfully explains Van Tharp’s thinking. It had already become increasingly clear to me before I read it that the 30/70 rule wasn’t working for me. It had became too vague to work with. Which bit is the logical and which bit is the psychological? If my logical bit is really super dooper can’t I think of it as 50/50? Indeed if I get it to 51% then I’ve got the edge … These thoughts were obviously unuseful when I had them, but they had still caused me to have lost grip on dealing with the real issue.
And when I started experimenting with the idea that trading was 100% psychological, and that by extension many other activities probably were too, a myriad of understandings started flooding through. The easiest analogies are sporting, but as I go through everyday life I see more and more clearly that the living of all aspects of life is essentially psychological, partly because our interface with life is essentially through the various interpretations of external data that our mind makes, and is not through that data itself, and partly because those interpretations are influenced by the very core of what we are, which isn’t to be found exclusively in any one part of our minds.
It’s profoundly affected my trading. I see the whole process in a completely different light, and have found it (i.e. the psychology underlying my trading performance) much easier to identify and come to terms with. Indeed the gratitude for my new success is, hopefully, expressed in the writing of this note, which I’ve not found easy.
But trading is not the half of it. Adopting this belief has transformed many of my relationships, as I get to understand that it’s psychology that partners are expressing, subjective interpretations influenced by a myriad of things. Not objective facts. My relationship with my son, conducted long distance half way round the world, has improved out of sight, as I can see much more clearly where he’s coming from when he says stuff I could have argued with before. My dancing has improved as I bring a new understanding to what dance is, and I suppose the real bottom line is that my relationship with myself has improved, too.
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