Question: My husband loves to play golf and he mentioned that a number of his golfing friends are excited about a technique they’re learning from their golf pro to improve their game. Parts of it sound okay to him but it does involve “visualization.” Should he be concerned for his friends?
Response: Visualization may or may not be something about which to be concerned. It can be a normal function which almost every person is able to do to some degree. It is the ability to “see” images in your mind. For example, if upon hearing someone talk about a chocolate ice cream cone you were able to picture it in your mind, that would be considered normal visualization. The ability to visualize is a great help to anyone who needs to picture something in his mind before executing or constructing it. Artists, designers, architects, engineers, novelists, screenwriters are only a few of the occupations which can benefit from “normal” visualization. There is also, however, “occult” visualization.
When a person tries to create or manipulate reality by mental imagery, he or she has become a participant in the realm of the occult. Getting the new car you’ve always wanted through visualization, for example, would involve conjuring a mental image of all the car’s desirous details and keeping that image almost continuously in your mind until the physical car actually becomes your own. Occult visualization is not intended to be just a mental motivator which makes a person so consumed with the object that he will work diligently within the bounds of reality in order to obtain it. The technique is itself the means of magically manipulating reality so that somehow, in some mysterious way, the actual object becomes the property of the visualizer.
Millions of people are naively turning to occult visualization techniques to solve their problems, yet few inquire as to what makes the technique work. Though there are many visualization variations, the simplified, central concept is this: the true essence of all things is Mind, which is nonphysical. What people refer to as God is actually the impersonal, all-encompassing Mind of the cosmos. Because Mind/God is impersonal it can be manipulated. In fact, it must be controlled by the thoughts or mental images of personal intelligences. So visualizing something you desire to have or want to take place is believed to activate the Mind, which must then turn your thoughts or images into reality.
The visualization techniques that have been promoted to increase proficiency in sports are usually a mixture of normal and occult visualization. Since you asked about golf, here is a scenario that shows how visualization can make the transition from normal into the realm of the occult.
The proper technique of swinging a golf club is very complex, featuring a host of physical and mental requirements. Once a player has learned and physically practiced the correct motions of a swing, it’s possible to improve his skill level by normal visualization. What that involves is nothing more than “mental practice.” In his mind, a player goes through all the motions of what he must do to correctly hit the ball. He sees or visualizes himself addressing the ball, checking his position, starting his backswing, shifting his weight, noting his elbow position, etc., etc., ending with his follow-through. While there are differing views as to how helpful such mental practice is, most agree that whether mental or physical, practice is the key to improvement. In any case, nothing occult is involved so far. The normal functioning of the mind involves interactions with the body so there is nothing unusual taking place when, for example, a golfer thinks about the proper grip and then positions his hands so that they conform to the image he envisioned.
The transition to an occult technique usually takes place when the visualization instruction deals with what happens to the ball after the golfer strikes it. Some teach that visualizing the desired trajectory of the ball has a definite influence on its actual flight. The concept now leaps beyond normal mind/body interaction to include mental influence over an external object. So how does visualizing the ball’s flight trajectory influence the actual flight of the ball? That explanation is rarely offered in advance because it’s based upon concepts which promote either a metaphysical, mind science, “new” physics, New Age, Eastern mystical, or ancient occult worldview—all of which subscribe to the belief that God is an impersonal Mind/Force.
Two basic dangers face those who get involved in occult techniques: 1) When a person participates in any form of occultism, he will at some point be exposed to and very likely be influenced by its underlying philosophy. If the person is a Christian, he has involved himself in an anti-Christian belief system and practice. 2) Because occult techniques are primarily inducements that seek to validate an antibiblical view of reality, they are sometimes empowered by demons (2 Thes:2:9) in order to deceive and win converts. Therefore, anyone who dabbles in the occult makes himself vulnerable to influence and (in the case of the unsaved) even possession by the demons who are behind occult manifestations.
This explanation has been limited to just one application of occult visualization in the field of sports (basketball, baseball, tennis, and almost all the other ball sports have similar teachings). There are, however, dozens more such occult techniques being promoted in the fields of psychology, medicine, education, politics, and religion (including promotions by evangelical Christians). Bringing about inner peace, world peace, physical healing, inner healing, greater creativity and intelligence, financial prosperity, and help from spirit guides (including Jesus) are just a few of the popular enticements. We hope to address some of these other aspects of occult visualization in future newsletters.
As a postscript to what’s been written, if you’re bothered by the fact that no scriptures have been included, it is not because none are applicable, but rather that the entire Word of God is a condemnation of the occultic worldview. From the creation accounts (Genesis) to the personal involvement of a personal God (Genesis through Revelation) with those whom He created, to the repeated prohibitions against turning to false gods and occult methods used in worshiping and contacting them (Deuteronomy, Isaiah, Revelation), to the many cautions related to the imagination (Genesis, Deuteronomy, Jeremiah, Romans, 2 Corinthians), the Scriptures speak categorically and absolutely regarding the spiritual dangers of occultism.