The Buddha reached enlightenment at the age of 35 on a night of the full moon. Upon gazing at Venus in his meditation he suddenly realised that Venus, the moon and he were one…

Now, you may well wonder how a book entitled the Buddhist Trader is going to help you get to grips with the psychology of becoming a persistently profitable trader and investor.

The answer is two fold, or should I say in true Buddhist tradition dualistic. In essence we are all dualistic individuals. Through duality we create our reality and this is also one of the major problems particularly new traders, and traders undergoing a confidence crisis for any reason will face and have to handle in their quest for persistent trading performance. After all, for every position you will take someone will take the other side. If this were not the case there would be no markets. Alas, who is right and who is wrong? There is no clear cut answer to this question in contrast to what you hear or read about trading and it depends on your time frame and your trading, or investment style.

Duality and oneness are of course, well one; and if you can get to experience your mind and the markets as one you will have a head start as a trader. In fact, you will have a head start in life, full stop, because the differentiations, obstacles and many doubts and self sabotaging habits you may have will fall away if you can access this state of oneness and make it your own as part of your trading and investment philosophy. You can be one with everything you are dealing with and that naturally includes the financial markets.

This concept is both an intellectual one and an emotional one. In order to give you an initial understanding of what I am talking about you will need to intellectually grasp the concept of the philosophy and then you have to experience it yourself, because ultimately, any concept can only be felt and you have to experience it in order to grasp its full power and potential.

In this book I will guide you through different techniques to experience the theory and practice it. Do not be put off, it is not nearly as complicated and out of reach as it may appear to you at this moment. Actually, it is deceptively simple, yet most people and most traders don’t get it because they have never been taken through the experiential process to get to know the theory in practice. In this book I am going to give you many ideas and exercises and, provided you follow them as outlined in the following chapters you will change the way you view yourself, the market machinations and ultimately how you trade or invest.

There are plenty of books talking about trading in the zone, which is what we are after, but none tell you how to get there in practical steps. None tell you about the foundations that need to be in place and can be practiced so that you can get into this state at will and quite easily. The approach to being in the zone is always integral. It is about much more than just working on your mental state.

This book is not about trading styles and systems. You will not find detailed strategies about how to manage your risk and how to set up a trading plan. There are plenty of books out there on these basics already if you need to access that information. You will, however, gain clarity about your trading and investment style just by reading this book and doing the exercises which will help you to get to know yourself better.

Developing trading mastery is not just about addressing your trading performance. The integral approach, as I use it and teach it in my workshops, works from the outside in. The three components of the Happy Venn Diagram of environment, body and mind need to be in harmony. If one aspect of the Happy Venn Diagram is out of balance you as a trader will not be able to function at your best. Your life as a successful trader has to work as a whole in order for you to connect seamlessly to the one. This means that your environment, your emotional health and your relationships all need to be working harmoniously so that you can give your best and work in seamless harmony with whatever you wish to accomplish.

I will guide you through the theoretical foundational knowledge of the integral principles of our existence in the light of the new paradigm that is evolving fast. It will expand your awareness and enable you to see yourself and your world, including the markets in an entirely new light.

So, the principles explored in The Buddhist Trader are truly integral, while concentrated on the psychological side of your trading. Even, when we are just looking at the psychology of trading there are several aspects to this that will make the picture whole, or at least as whole as it can be, given our present knowledge of psychological factors which includes environmental and emotional, spiritual and world centric aspects which have a bearing on your psyche. When we are taking about trading psychology it should be all encompassing and not only about your trading or working life, but also include your personal life; the two are inextricably interwoven.

In order to give you a head start in achieving trading mastery you need to have as broad a view of yourself and the markets as possible. This book will give you this truly expansive view in a way no other book on the psychology of trading does, at least not to my knowledge.

You will learn about a very important aspect of your individual self which is not mentioned in a single book on trading psychology. This is the level of your development. Together we will take a look at your personal level of development and how this knowledge can help you enormously with your trading. Your level of development dictates how you see yourself and the things around you. When I talk about development I am talking primarily about cognitive development. Cognitive development is the most important of all types of development because it has a huge impact on your trading. It is vital that you understand the basics and learn to apply this extremely useful knowledge to assist you with your trading.

Why is this so important? Put simply, because our developmental level changes all the time, it is seldom static. Naturally, as we go through developmental stages our cognitive awareness changes too. When all goes smoothly it gradually expands and you will hardly notice the transitions from one level to the next. Alas, as we all know, life seldom moves in a straight line, just like a stock or commodity seldom simply goes up or down in a straight line. This means that you can get stuck in your developmental evolution and what’s more, you can be stuck in more than one level at once. Understanding what is going on and where you are right now will help you to break free and move on and integrate the next levels fully.

And here is the other important thing you need to understand about your cognitive development. Oftentimes, unresolved trauma in the early levels of development can lead to problems later in life and this needs to be resolved if you want to trade profitably consistently. We also call this type of work shadow work.

I have worked with people who love to trade and yet have no feel for the markets. They keep losing money and come up with reasons why they cannot follow a strategy or discipline. Invariably, unresolved shadows are the problem. Once released, the problems will disappear.

If you have unresolved shadows you may not be in touch with your real self, but of course you won’t be aware of this. You will be blaming market conditions, your trading system or the poor fills from your broker. The techniques in this book will help you to identify shadows and help you to release them. Understanding the role of developmental stages plays an important part in identifying and releasing these shadows.

I view trading as a journey of self exploration. This is how it always felt to me. I have always loved the markets. I can remember, reading the stock market section in the newspapers with great interest and excitement, at the age of 12 years, trying very hard to understand it all. I have also always loved self exploration and studied spiritual matters.

My studies of Zen and other wisdom traditions have led me to important insights into fundamental laws which are present everywhere. If you want to fully understand the true nature of your being and the objects around you and interact with them seamlessly you have to have an understanding of your spiritual nature. There is no getting away from it. It is an essential part of the whole which can lead you to a new understanding of market interaction.

When you honour the spiritual aspect of your existence you are effectively acknowledging the oneness of the universe.

The same fundamental laws that apply to us apply to the markets too and when you appreciate this interaction fully, you simply will not be able to view the markets superficially anymore. Your trading will take on a different dimension as you will notice the fractal patterns of life repeating themselves in different variations everywhere you look. I now know, that it has to be that way and simply cannot be any other way. Acknowledging your spirituality is simply acknowledging the universal laws in action and aligning yourself with these laws in everything you do, including your trading.

This is what happened for me. As my insights in the underlying cosmic laws grew so did my understanding of the nature of the markets. Believe me, this is truly exciting stuff and can make your trading life much richer and more worthwhile. This understanding will be of particular value to you in the present, challenging circumstances.

I love Elliott wave; Elliott wave of course is based on an in depth understanding of natural laws. I view some of my indicators, (I use CCI a lot), in the same way. It is fascinating and great fun, I can assure you. History well and truly repeats, alas, never in quite the same way. Our challenge as traders is to adjust and correctly interpret the same old fractals in a new light of an ever evolving present.

In a sense my approach is multi dimensional and lets you experience your trading in a much deeper, more profound way. It is the only way to get into the zone. Getting from duality to experiencing a state of oneness, but from a modern view that benefits your trading and investing strategies today and tomorrow is what it is all about. We have much to learn from the old wisdom traditions. Nothing is new. Universal laws and the principles of our existence have always been the same and always will be. The only thing that changes is our interpretation of these matters as we evolve and grow. This is the variant within an ever repeating cycle, at least from our perspective as human beings.

The person who experienced enlightenment 2000 years ago would have a different enlightenment experience today. The collective consciousness is somewhat different and the internal representational system of a contemporary person is different from someone who lived 2000 years ago. Yet the same evolutionary laws are at play and must be observed if you want to reach, what we commonly refer to as enlightenment.

There is a very profound Zen Buddhist saying: “Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water, after enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.” Enlightenment itself is not the end game, neither is mastery. Both just happen when you follow a particular practice. However, you will still carry on chopping wood, carrying water, and trading, as long as there are the markets. You will continue to learn and evolve, and improve your trading along your path. Enlightenment, as well as trading in the zone is a simply a stage in your development and pursuit of mastery. Both are tools to help you find your true self and connect with your true nature. Your true nature is that of a pivot as well as an integral part of the universe. You are constantly changing and evolving and if you learn to go with the flow of this universal principle, much happiness and success will be yours, because you are cutting out the blockages that come from insisting to do things how they should be done, whatever that is supposed to mean. Instead, you will be doing things in line with their naturally evolving rhythm. This is what trading in the zone is all about. Trading in the zone is about unlearning all those old programmes which are part of your conditioning as a human being and then acting from a level of unconscious, automatic competence.

You may or may not agree with me at this point. One thing is for sure: You will only know what I am talking about once you experience for yourself the innate wisdom of this concept which is as old as our existence but seen and interpreted through the eyes of life today. Hopefully, when you are finished with this book and perhaps read it more than once, which I strongly recommend, you will have a very good idea about these concepts and will have experienced them to some degree too, if you remain open and are willing to learn new ideas.

Dealing with the psychology of it all is simply addressing the different aspects of yourself in a fresh way with the new, modern tools which are available to us now. The techniques you will learn are cutting edge and incorporate the concept of integral life principles which has been developed in recent years. Putting it all together as a methodology, which I call the Happy Venn Diagram of environment, body and mind is my contribution to hopefully helping many traders and investors as well as helping anyone else who is open to the concepts expressed, to lead more fulfilling lives and navigate the challenging changes successfully which are happening in all areas of our lives right now. And, when you eventually get it all, it is so fascinatingly simple. Simple yes, I did not say though that it is necessarily easy. No doubt there will be pitfalls along the way.

You do not step into a new paradigm over night. I do know though that with practice and diligence you will achieve a much greater control over your emotions and gain a much broader understanding of the mechanism which operates in this world. Once you have read this book and done all the exercises your mental vista will be much wider. This means that you will see so much more of the picture than you did before and this fact alone will assist you to assess this major cycle of transformation correctly and come out on top.

****This article is an excerpt from The Buddhist Trader by Mercedes Oestermann van Essen. You can order your copy of the book by visiting

Author's Bio: 

Mercedes Oestermann van Essen offers a truly integral and holistic approach to energy psychology. She has traded commodities for many years. Before she learned to trade she worked in public relations and personal development.

She is a personal development coach, advanced EFT practitioner and REIKI master. She has studied NLP, HUNA and Zen Buddhism in depth. Her unique approach offers a modern interpretation of the wisdom traditions. She combines these teachings with practical techniques to create lasting success and well being through integrating environment, body and mind.

She has published several books and videos revealing the unique methods of The Happy Venn Diagram of environment, body and mind which she teaches in her workshops.

Based in the United Kingdom Mercedes Oestermann van Essen works with clients internationally and trades whenever time permits.

She learned many lessons regarding the psychology of trading when she encountered many unexpected challenges in her first years of trading. These challenges made her realise that our own psychological make up is more important even than our trading or investment strategy. On the path to becoming consistently profitable in her trading Mercedes tested many different approaches to help her deal with psychological blocks until she found those which worked best for her.

The result is a comprehensive programme which can help any trader or investor to survive these turbulent times of transition by adjusting their mental attitude and expanding their cognitive awareness.