Dr. Ron Wong Jue was one of the founders of APRT (now IARRT). At the time of this interview he was working therapeutically with women who were not able to have children, helping them unblock their procreative abilities. He is now retired.
I first became aware of Dr. Jue when I heard him chat informally one night after speaking at an Asilomar conference I was attending, about the Dalai Lama's recent visit to Dr. Jue's home and family. In that casual, woodland atmosphere, sitting in the dusk just before bedtime, around a rustic, dimly lit meeting room with several other attendees, I listened enchanted as he related his experience with this famous soul. He smiled as if seeing again inwardly his stored vision of the Dalai Lama playing joyfully with Dr. Jue's children and the never-to-be-forgotten experience of accompanying the Dalai Lama on his trip to visit a supermarket--right after His Holiness had just received news that he had won the Nobel Peace Prize at an East-West conference of psychologists that Ron had put together as president of that group that year...
PC (Pat Chalfant): How did you first get interested in past life therapy?
RWJ (Ron Wong Jue): I had met a therapist at Palo Alto and we were talking about past lives. She referred me to Dr. Morris Netherton and so I went down to see him in Hacienda Heights, and I told him, "You know, I'd like very much to know what to do with this. Sometimes when I do my work in hypnosis, these past life images come up and I don't really know what to do with them." I decided the only way to find out was to do psychotherapy with Dr. Netherton. So I did that with Morris. Then I said, "This is so important, you know what would be a great idea--how about my launching a program?" Morris was about the only one doing it, really. About the only other person in the field was Edith Fiore who wrote You Have Been Here Before.
PC: So had Edith written the book before APRT was formed?
RWJ: She wrote the book long before that. So I went down to the University of California extension to inquire about doing a conference on past life therapy. They said the only thing that would be required was that I have everyone speaking be a Ph.D., M.D., etc. So I asked Edith Fiore, Morris Netherton, Dr. Ernest Pecci, and Helen Wambaugh--those were the key people But when I was organizing it, UC extension said there was a woman named Hazel Denning down in Riverside who seemed to be doing the same thing as I wanted to do. So I spoke to Hazel and she said yes, she was going to do some kind of a program up in Riverside at about the same time. I told Hazel I was doing this thing, and she said, "Oh, great." So what happened was that I put the thing together. I was the coordinator and I was the moderator. And there are tapes of that.
PC: You mean APRT has tapes of that first conference?
RWJ: I think we have tapes somewhere of that UCI Conference. I know I do somewhere. As a matter of fact it was so well received, (I think UCI was really surprised) they asked me to do it again at UC San Diego. So I did it at San Diego and I brought some other people. But at UCI Hazel and I became friends and we wondered if we could just ask people to consider developing an association.
PC: I have wondered whose idea it was to develop an association.
RWJ: Well, actually Hazel and I did. I said, "This is what I'll do, Hazel, at the end of the conference I will ask how many would be willing to come and do this." So I did that. And out of that, a number of individuals came down and we met and we became the first board of directors. One was Jason Levine, and Hazel, and myself, and all told, there were about eight of us. And we met all over the place. I wrote the by-laws. I just took another group's by-laws and modified them. So that's how APRT started, and then we wrestled with the name. You know, should it be research, therapy, or should it be just therapy...Or Association for Past Life Therapy and Research...?
PC: I've also wondered about how the name came about.
RWJ: Well, we went through that name thing several times to get it, but finally we got it down to listing both therapy and research. We finally got it off and, of course, one of the first things we decided to do was training seminars. We didn't have a newsletter, we didn't have anything, but we decided there was a real demand for training. And we did public programs. That was when Helen Wambaugh was alive.
I did not become an officer, because I didn't want to. In a way, I felt that I had to literally be in the closet, because I was such a conservative therapist and here I was in this thing. I didn't really want to become president. So Hazel become president. As a matter of fact, I didn't really want anyone to know what I had done. So I was the one who wrote the by-laws. And I worked with Hazel.
Then she and I did a lot of the coordinating of the programs, and developed the initial training and we started bringing other people as we knew who they were. We brought about 4 or 5 other people who were past life therapists. We found that there were ways of doing past life therapy other than Morris Netherton's, although Morris's was one way of doing it and so was Edith Fiore's.
We had a different kind of training program and we did team training that was very, very powerful. We did a lot of training in the beginning, and our yearly conference, and the thing grew each year, until we had a newsletter and later on the journal. But all that came after we had a lot more people to be volunteers.
We generated a lot of written material. Winafred has collected a lot of material and she has yet to publish the book that's been growing, growing, growing. I said, Winafred, just get it out, we'd like to see this. (Since this interview, Dr. Winafred Blake Lucas's book is out-Regression Therapy, A Handbook for Professionals, Vols. I & II, Deep Forest Press.)
When the organization began, it had a lot of psychic readers, we had a kind of combination (of psychics and therapists) and we really had to deal with that.
PC: Yes, Winafred talked about that. She recalled that she hadn't come to the first meeting, but that she came maybe the second day, and that there were quite a number of psychics in the group at first. However, UCI insisted that you only have speakers who were Ph.D.'s and M.D.'s, right?
RWJ: Yes, and I did. But when I did one in San Diego, I brought a psychic reader. That didn't go over too well. I think that seemed a much more gypsy-like-focus. There was real tension about what to do about all this. And in the end, everyone wanted to make it very legitimate and we only brought in people that were either licensed or those with a Ph.D. or an M.D.
PC: You know, I also went over and had classes with Dr. Netherton and had some therapy and I realized that he regularly has had training sessions in Europe. Has APRT ever done that sort of thing?
RWJ: Yes, we did one. Hazel and I took a whole group to England and we did one in London. We did some other ones. We did a several in New York. Hazel and I.
PC: Could you sum up the differences between Dr. Netherton's methods and the past life method developed by APRT?
RWJ: Well, he believed (and he was doing the same thing as Edith), you had to go to the core. What we wanted to do was to explore past life therapy as an effective modality to alleviate some of the problems that could not be alleviated through psychotherapy. It wasn't a matter of who was right. We were open-ended. So I think that was the healthy thing about that.
PC: From what Winafred Lucas said in an interview I did with her recently, 95% of the original members dropped away from the organization as it went along.
RWJ: Very few therapists were doing this stuff, but then as we started talking about setting standards, a lot of people just dropped away. We felt that if you were going to make it professional, you had to have professional standards. We were fighting the tide of people who wanted to hold on to their method. It was just very hard.
PC: I asked Winafred Lucas how much of her practice is actually Past Life in and she gave me very quickly 30%. Had you used past life in your practice before you started this group? She said she hadn't used it when she got involved with APRT.
RWJ: No, that's just it, I hadn't. However, I started getting interested in it and I went over and worked with Hazel for a while. Then I just started doing it and I wrote some of the initial articles. Now I only use it maybe about 20% of the time.
PC: Are there certain kinds of problems that can be gotten at more readily through PLT?
RWJ: Well, if you're problem oriented, but, see, I was interested in past lives in order to understand life. Who are you? Why are you here? in other words I felt that if you found out that you were entirely responsible for where you are now, then you had better be careful of what you do now, because of the fact that you can create patterns. In other words, people who are victims now were once perpetrators in another lifetime. And someone who is black now finds out that he was a white man battering Negroes in a past lifetime. And you find out that there are some real laws here. And part of that law is the Golden Rule, do unto others what you would have them do unto you, because if you don't do that, you'll have to come back. So I was more interested in behavior and what caused certain things...and I began to be intrigued in past life therapy with how the patterns began to show up.
One of my best cases was a woman who was in a hospital setting for three months. And she began to understand all of why her children chose her and why she had to finish and why she had the husbands that she had had. It was so clear, you know, and when it was at the end, she saw her whole family as a blessing, all of them, all, were on a spiritual path. So my interest in past life therapy has been in trying to get people to understand that they're already on a spiritual path and that life is good. That you need to honor life, you need to honor your children, you need to honor your relationships. That every relationship on some subconscious level has been brought into your life with a purpose.
I'm more interested in people looking at their lives more closely as a result of past life therapy and not just going into it to have what I call recreational regression, R & R, to find out who you are. I'm more interested in why you're here. Because if you know and understand all your choices and know why you did what you did then you see, then what happens is that everything is connected, your life has meaning. But we always keep the answers outside ourselves, we don't do past life therapy in a way so that it's focused on the person's experience of himself, understanding that he plays all the roles that are around him, you know, the ones who create all the roles in the dysfunctional family, and the abused finds the abuser in himself. And he finds that somehow he creates that reality and it's also because he learns something. And so life becomes the great teacher, life becomes the great lesson. I'm just saying that whatever befalls you, there is another spiritual dimension. I mean I always think about cancer and AIDS as two of the most spiritual diseases because they make people really reprioritize what's really important.
PC: Yes, they certainly can.
RWJ: They're terrible diseases, but on some other level they are great teachers. You see, this is what you do find out in past life therapy. This is what I consider the right way of looking at past life therapy seeing it as an opportunity to see all parts of yourself and the way you could be.
PC: Did it seem exciting, past life therapy, in the beginning?
RWJ: Oh, it seemed exciting, but it seemed very, very scary. It was challenging, too, because it was so unethical and unorthodox. So I said we're going to make it orthodox, by being much more professional about it. We created a lot of adversaries. I thought that Hazel and I had done our thing, and I thought it was going to develop. It's taken on a different direction.
PC: Thanks so much, Ron, for your time, and for this interview!
Note: I am in the process of trying to arrange to interview Dr. Jue again to learn more about his present activities. This interview will soon contain more about his work with infertile women and his new book. Stay tuned--Pat Chalfant.