Daily Speculations

The Web Site of Victor Niederhoffer & Laurel Kenner

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In Honor of James: Stories of Escaping Death, and Death as part of our lives.

James Sogi Shares:

Always keep death close to your heart, for it is no more than a shadow of the light inside that is your life force and the same source of all life power in the world. Be in touch with the universal force through your simple self reflective awareness as this the connection to the power of life. Don't wait for God or the universal powers to come you, make each day a time to be in touch with the universal forces. Take time for your health , give kindness to your family who are closest to you and treat them with love and respect. Do do those things that are dear to your heart and meaningful, eschew harmful things. Have compassion for those less fortunate.

The day started out like any other day. My buddy calls and says "surf's up"! When we met at the beach the waves were moderate 4 feet but we knew waves were coming and we were prepared for big waves with our big guns. By the time we paddled out, the waves had already doubled in size and were getting big 8 feet. We caught a few, but each minute, the waves continued to rise in what is called "stacking" sets, where each wave is bigger than the last. Soon the ocean started to get out of control. 30 foot breakers were closing out all across the the entire horizon and a huge rip current, a river of water wall was pulling people out to sea. The rescue boats were rescuing people...then my shock cord that ties the board to me broke in a big wave I had ridden and I was in deep trouble. The current was too strong to swim against, and I was becoming exhausted. A young Hawaiian man saw my trouble and offered to let me paddle his board over a few hundred yards to where the current was less strong, and I could body surf in to the shore. He saved my life. So after positioning over, I body surfed in 25 foot waves, which mainly consists of rolling underwater head over heels for 30 seconds at a time 4 times in a row. Nearly drowned, I was near the shore, and had only one chance to scramble out over the rock cliffs before getting sucked 2 miles out so sea again where I would not survive the second round. Waiting for a lull between the waves I caught a wave in and tried to time it so I would wash over the rocks and not be sliced to shreds and dragged on the jagged rocks as the water surged powerfully over the rocks. I caught one, and clung to the rocks like an opihi shell. Still the ocean grabbed and tore at me trying to drag me back. I hung on for dear life as I knew there wasn't going to be a second chance as my hands and legs were all cut up and blood was dripping from me as I emerged from the water. The road had been closed due to the huge waves washing over the road and hundreds of people gawked as dozens of emergency vehicles and ambulances were rescuing the drowned people. Houses were destroyed. We still talk about that day years later.

A Survival Story, By Ian

I was given 30 minutes to vacate my farm by Mr. Mugabe's so called "war veterans" when I protested I was jumped by these hooligans (plus minus 20 of them) who preceded to beat the living cr.p out of me when I fell to the ground I tried to roll under the car but instead got caught against the wheel of the car -well that was the end of me, now they laid into me - boots and all.
While these "war veterans" proceeded to kick and beat with me knobkerries my wife and 3 year old son were watching and screaming for them to stop. Just before I lost consciousness I vowed to myself that I would survive this for my family and that I was tougher than any of these low life's and I would not die or give up to them.
I woke up in intensive care; all we had left in our life were 2 suitcases of clothes everything else was now "owned "by the "people" of Zimbabwe I decided there and then (I was 43) that I would commit myself to a strong mental model and start to rebuild our life's from scratch and that nothing would stop me or ever take away from me what is mine again!

For what it's worth some of the philosophy I live by (Stuck on the wall above my desk)- "You have only your body and will treat both with respect. Put nothing in your mouth unless it strengthens your structure. A difficult habit but worth the cultivation.
Put nothing in your mind unless it strengthens your will. Be careful what you watch and what you read, for that becomes what you know. It is always so because the information that makes you what you are remains long after the source is forgotten. Even the most private beliefs that drive your life, even belief in God, you learned from other people. Were you born into a different culture you would believe with all your will in different Gods. It is crucial therefore to your pursuit of excellence that you acquire the best information from peer-reviewed or scientific journals. Much of news, writing and programming is entertainment designed to stimulate emotional reaction and capture market share, not to inform your mind. Those that excel are not more gifted than us. They have simply cleared their minds of former fears, analyzed their strengths and practiced them to the exclusion of disrupting influences. We have within us the seeds of excellence. How those seeds will grow depends on the instruction we receive. Do not try to go it alone. It will not come from mere effort and diligence. Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent. Each time you repeat something incorrect you are making the mistake more ingrained in your mind. So it is crucial to have the right programs before you start. Examine your teachers minutely. Only those who know excellence can let you glimpse at it also without such guides you are lost in a morass of conflicting advice, you cannot separate the truth from the hokum of hidden agendas that will pull you for profit into acquiescent mediocrity Do not fear failure. Fear does not exist in objects or situations that confront you. It is an obstacle to action created by your mind created solely by false ideas of weakness that have been taught to you by others. If anyone giving you advice is not a living example of what they say reject them completely. Whenever you are afraid you have frightened yourself. Once you understand that you create your own fear, only then you can learn to eliminate it. The will to excel is of far greater strength than any inborn talent."
One of the people who has had a profound effect on my life/trading career has been fellow Spec Larry Williams- thanks Larry!

Gibbons Burke offers:

It may be useful for specswains to know that one can experience the experiences people experience near death without having one's life in jeopardy. I learned this through the offices of trader Ed Seykota when he bought Technical Tools, the financial data and software company Chris Cooper founded. During the transaction cycle Ed indicated that he wanted to run the company like a tribe, and that one of the things he found beneficial to inter-tribe communication was a process called Holotropic Breathwork. He suggested that Chris and I participate in a facilitated breathwork session to understand better what he was about and how he proposed to run the company after purchasing it.

Some background on Holotropic Breathwork... Stanislav Grof was a practicing psychiatrist in Prague who, in the late 60s was offered doses of LSD by Sandoz Labs, the company which developed the drug. They offered it to psych professionals like Grof to take -themselves- so they could experience, understand, and have empathy for the hallucinations and psychotic episodes their patients were experiencing. Grof started experimenting with the drug in a clinical setting, eventually administering it to patients as a therapeutic. He and his staff carefully recorded the varieties of experiences of their patients on their "trips", and mapped out a taxonomy of all the different types of things that happened. He found that the drug acted as an amplifier, opening a door into the sub-conscious mind not normally accessible in normal daily experience. He found that once the dramas, traumas and sub-conscious issues and feelings were brought up into the light of the conscious mind that the patients resolved some of their psychological issues.

Ed was attracted to this work because he believes that many traders are beset by sub-conscious issues which play out, sometimes to detrimental effect, in their trading. The experiences Grof recorded fall into three broad categories:

+ biographical - re-experiencing events, traumas, people in one's personal experience, including childbirth

+ trans-personal - experiencing the life of some other person, culture, or historical event not part of one's own experience; commonly known as an "out-of-body" experience

+ spiritual - encounters, conversations, and feelings of unity with the Godhead

When LSD became a controlled substance, Grof found that similar experiences could be achieved without the use of the drug. In particular, sustained hyperventilation would bring about states of altered consciousness and experience. Grof named this process Holotropic Breathwork, and has created a global network of facilitators trained in the methods who conduct sessions:


The three sessions I underwent were especially helpful in dealing with then unresolved grief, with curing me of a lifelong struggle with asthma and opening my eyes to the vast world of the unconscious mind. Most of my experiences were squarely in the biographical domain, but the stories told by others after the sessions were amazing in their variety and detail - experiencing God, other cultures, meeting dead people etc.

Ed, for his part, is extending this work in the form of a new methodology he calls the Trading Tribe Process, which achieves the same sorts of experiences and integrating results without two hours of hyperventilation. The doors to the unconscious are opened through the encouragement of fellow tribe members. He explains it here:


I'm grateful to Ed for introducing me to this work, and would encourage anyone interested in understanding themselves better to learn more. It may change your life without having to risk losing it.

"Quote of the Day", Offered by James Sogi

"Do not act as if you are going to live ten thousand years. Death hangs over you. While you live, while it is in your power, be good....Since it possible that you may depart from this life this very moment, regulate every act and thought accordingly." The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius 161 AD.

Death Stories continue with Peter Gardiner:

2 of my least pleasant experiences were: 1) having a .38 caliber pistol held to my temple in the garage of my home while my beloved was held face-down upon the cement by another armed person, eventually resulting in my point blank view of the barrel of the pistol in the ensuing melee; 2) awaiting the eventual outcome of multi-year process in which I was slated by some to learn the fine art of making little rocks out of big rocks, but only after enduring every slander and civil amputation performable upon my person. Both incidents were "survived" after a fashion without "physical" harm, or invasion.

The lesson for me was: NEVER, EVER wonder how tough you are. Banish the thought, and exterminate, as much as possible, the curiosity, as the circumstances under which you would find out will be excruciatingly, unimaginably, painful. And soon enough, you will know, anyway, and the knowledge will offer no solace - only remorse, and shame that you could have once been so vainglorious and inappreciative of life as to waste it in even the momentary contemplation of your reaction to its loss.

James Tar Responds:

Toughness is over-rated, life is fragile, at every moment. Some laugh at what life insurance has to offer, etc., but it is a must have, especially when kids and a wife are in one's life........