Three Principles (self-help)

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The Three Principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought are foundational tenets elucidating the facets of human psychological experience. They were first articulated by Sydney Banks, a welder with a ninth-grade education, a native of Scotland, residing in British Columbia, Canada during the early 1970s.

Discovery of the Three Principles[edit]

According to verbal accounts provided by Banks during recorded lectures, he realised the Three Principles while attending a marriage seminar held on Cortes Island, in British Columbia, Canada.

The seminar encouraged couples to "let their feelings out," be honest, and argue with one another. Discouraged with the process, Banks and his wife prepared to leave the seminar. As they were doing so, Banks entered into a dialogue with a therapist who was also participating in the seminar.

Describing himself as "an insecure mess" at that time, Banks began elaborating on all the ways in which he felt insecure. The therapist's response was a revelation to Banks: "I've never heard such nonsense in all my life. You're not insecure Syd, you just think you are."[1]

What I heard was: there’s no such thing as insecurity, it’s only Thought. All my insecurity was only my own thoughts! It was like a bomb going off in my head … It was so enlightening! It was unbelievable … [And after that,] there was such beauty coming into my life.[2]

The three specific terms, Mind, Consciousness and Thought, were not clearly delineated during Banks' initial experience. The three words, and his definitions, would become clear later through his talks and lectures. He refers to them as "the psychological trinity".[3]


Roughly 40 years later, Syd Banks' "insight" has been introduced into hospitals, correctional institutions, social services, individual and couples therapy, community housing, drug and alcohol prevention and treatment programmes, schools, and multi-national corporations.[citation needed]

Application of the Three Principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought has spread throughout the United States, and into Canada, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Israel, Scotland, England, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Spain.[4]


According to Banks, the three "formless" principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought explain the entire range of human behaviour and feeling states. They are responsible for the creation of all human experience.[5]

The three principles are defined as:


The energy and intelligence of all life, whether in the form, or formless. The Universal Mind, the impersonal mind, or “wisdom” is constant and unchangeable. The personal mind is in a perpetual state of change.[6]


Consciousness is the gift of awareness. Consciousness allows the recognition of form, form being an expression of Thought.[7]


The power of Thought is not self-created. Thought is a divine gift, which serves you immediately after you are born. Thought is the creative agent we use to direct us through life.[8]

Three Principles movement[edit]

The Three Principles have become the basis of a growing, international psychological movement with centers in the United States and Europe. The fundamental premise of the movement is that life is metaphysically generated into form from formless energy, and that our experience as human beings is created from the "inside-out", from the interaction of the Three Principles; including the experience of self-identity.

Practitioners of the Three Principles believe that feeling states (and all experience) are created (through mental activity i.e., thought). Scientific research by Lisa Feldman Barrett supports this notion that mental states (ie. emotions) are indeed constructed from within the human mind.[9] Practitioners believe that beyond each person's limited, conscious, and personal thought system lies a vast reservoir of wisdom, insight and spiritual intelligence. No one person has greater access to wisdom than any other. Mental health is the resting state, or "default" setting of the mind, which brings with it non-contingent feelings of love, compassion, resilience, creativity and unity; both with others and with life itself.[10] Research by George Bonnano, professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University, supports this notion that resilience, not recovery is a common response to difficult life events such as trauma and loss.[11]

Founder and students[edit]

Banks, who died of metastasized cancer in May 2009, contradicted many traditional notions and practices of psychotherapy. Specifically, that for mental wellbeing, it was not important to process the past, nor that the content of peoples' personal thought systems had to be "worked with" and analysed.

Everyone in mental institutions is sitting in the middle of mental health and they don't know it.[12]

Banks was also averse to using techniques, or creating concepts, in order to share with others. These, he felt, contradicted the essential formless and original nature of the Three Principles, which emphasises kindness, "sharing, caring" and the simple gift of love.[citation needed]

A number of therapists and psychologists showed an interest in the concepts, and the teachings were spread[13] into various private practices, social services, corporate training and consulting, psychiatry, education, community mental health and development work, and drug and alcohol treatment systems.

Other names[edit]

The Three Principles have been called by other names, including The Inside Out Understanding, Health Realization, neo-cognitive psychology, Psychology of Mind, and Innate Health. The form of how the Three Principles has been taught has changed over the decades, with an increasing emphasis on simplicity, formlessness, and speaking from the heart. [need a secondary source that describes it this way]

See also[edit]


Works by Sydney Banks, currently published by Lone Pine Publishing, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


  • Dear Liza, 2004
  • The Enlightened Gardener
  • The Enlightened Gardener Revisited
  • In Quest of the Pearl
  • The Missing Link: Reflections on Philosophy and Spirit
  • Second Chance


  • Attitude! — CD
  • Great Spirit, The — CD & Audio Cassette
  • Hawaii Lectures - 2-CD set
  • In Quest of the Pearl — CD
  • Long Beach Lectures - 2-CD set
  • One Thought Away — CD (CD-Audio)
  • Second Chance — CD & Audio Cassette
  • Washington Lectures - CD
  • What is Truth? — CD & Audio Cassette


  • Hawaii Lecture #1 - Secret to the Mind — DVD
  • Hawaii Lecture #2 - Oneness of Life — DVD & VHS
  • Hawaii Lecture #3 - The Power of Thought — DVD & VHS
  • Hawaii Lecture #4 - Going Home — DVD & VHS
  • Long Beach Lecture #1 - The Great Illusion — DVD
  • Long Beach Lecture #2 - Truth Lies Within — DVD & VHS
  • Long Beach Lecture #3 - The Experience — DVD & VHS
  • Long Beach Lecture #4 - Jumping the Boundaries of Time — DVD & VHS
  • Long Beach Lectures - 4 video set — VHS

By other authors[edit]

  • Pransky, Jack (June 16, 2015). Paradigm Shift: A History of The Three Principles. CCB Publishing. ISBN 978-1-77143-228-3.


  1. ^
  2. ^ The Truth Lies Within, Part 2, Long Beach Lecture Series, Lone Pine Publishing, Edmonton, Canada
  3. ^ Banks, Sydney, The Missing Link: Reflections on Philosophy and Spirit, p. 21
  4. ^ See ""
  5. ^ Banks, Sydney, "The Missing Link: Reflections on Philosophy and Spirit," International Human Relations Consultants, Publishers, 1998. Distributed by Lone Pine Publishing, Edmonton. p. 26.
  6. ^ "The Missing Link," p. 31
  7. ^ "The Missing Link," p. 39.
  8. ^ "The Missing Link," p. 47
  9. ^ Barrett, Lisa Feldman (2017-01-01). "The theory of constructed emotion: an active inference account of interoception and categorization". Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 12 (1): 1–23. doi:10.1093/scan/nsw154. ISSN 1749-5016. PMC 5390700. PMID 27798257.
  10. ^ See books by practitioners, including Elsie Spittle, George Pransky, Roger Mills, Joseph Bailey, Jack Pransky, Richard Carlson, Ami Chen Mills-Naim, Robert Kausen
  11. ^ Bonanno, George A. (January 2004). "Loss, trauma, and human resilience: have we underestimated the human capacity to thrive after extremely aversive events?". The American Psychologist. 59 (1): 20–28. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.59.1.20. ISSN 0003-066X. PMID 14736317.
  12. ^ "The Hawaii Lectures," DVD Series
  13. ^ Oral and written testimonies from practitioners; Roger Mills' unpublished memoirs and Mills, R.C. and Spittle, E., "The Wisdom Within" pp. 16-25, Lone Pine Publishing, Edmonton, Canada, 2001.

External links[edit]