If you ever see a hypnotist giving a demonstration, you will be amazed. If he hypnotizes a man, then under hypnosis tells him, “You are a woman – stand up and walk,” the man starts walking like a woman. It is very difficult for a man to walk like a woman. For that, a certain body structure is needed. To walk like a woman a belly with an empty space for the womb is needed; otherwise one cannot walk like a woman. Or one can do it only after long practice. But when a hypnotist puts a man to sleep and tells him under hypnosis, “Stand up! You are a woman, not a man – walk!,” he walks like a woman.
Or he may hand him an onion and say, “Here’s an apple – go ahead and eat it.” He eats the onion. And if you ask him how it tastes he says it is very good! He doesn’t even suspect that it is an onion – he can’t smell it.
Hypnotists have experienced this, and by now it is scientific fact. There has been much experimentation on it. Lift the hand of an unconscious, hypnotized person and put an ordinary rock in it. Tell him it is a hot coal, and he will throw it away with a jerk, shouting, “I am burned!” It would be okay if it only went this far, but a blister forms on his hand!
You must have heard of people who walk on fire. This too is a deep state of hypnosis. If you believe you won’t be burned, the fire doesn’t burn you. It is a matter of belief. If there is the slightest doubt, there will be trouble – you will be burned. There have been many incidents where people have felt courageous and simply walked on fire: “When so many people are walking, then we can too.” But if the worm of doubt is inside anyone, he is burned.
An experiment was done on this at Oxford University. Some Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka were invited to fire-walk. Every year on the Buddha Full Moon they walk on fire in remembrance of the Buddha. This is absolutely right. To walk on fire in remembrance of the Buddha is right because Buddha’s whole teaching is that you are not the body.
If we are not the body, then how can fire burn us? In the Gita Krishna has said, “Neither fire can burn you nor weapons pierce you.” So, many monks walk on fire on the Buddha Full Moon in Sri Lanka.
Some of them were invited to Oxford and they walked on fire there too. While they were fire-walking at Oxford one monk was burned. About twenty monks walked – and only one was burned. It was looked into, to find out how it happened. The monk had come only to see England, he had no trust that he could walk on fire. His intention was something else, he had come only as a tourist; he only wanted to see England. And he thought, “These nineteen people are not getting burned – why should I burn?” But inside there was a worm of doubt and he was burned.
There was another incident that same night. A professor, an Oxford University professor, was sitting watching. He had never seen, had never heard about fire-walking. He watched and felt so much trust that he got up and started walking on fire. He was not a Buddhist, not religious – he didn’t know anything. He just watched so many people walking and he felt – the feeling came from such depths, the trust became so strong that he got up in deep ecstasy and began dancing on the coals.