THOUGHT vs. thought

A lot of misunderstanding about the idea of “thought” pervades our work in the Three Principles. I’d like to draw a very clear distinction.

When people talk about “thought” in terms of what we have thought, the content of our thinking, we are not talking about the Principle of Thought. The Principle of Thought describes the formless energy (described by the Principle MIND) that flows through all life, our life, that empowers us to create “thoughts”. THOUGHT is energy, the spiritual, creative force of generating ideas about life. Once we have used that energy to form our own ideas, our particular “thoughts” look real to us while they are our minds, a fact described by the Principle CONSCIOUSNESS, the power to be aware of what we see in our mind’s eye.

Quite often, people who understand this distinction might refer to each person’s individual thoughts as “just a thought,” without any realization of how dismissive and insulting that might sound to someone who did NOT understand the Principle of THOUGHT. I remember clearly the first time someone said this to me, early on years ago when I was really looking to grasp the profound nature of seeing THOUGHT as a power, a formless energy that set me free to create my own life and navigate it, free from external pressure. At a time when I was struggling to step into the unknown, and expressing doubts, a woman I knew casually said, “Oh, that’s just a thought. Let it go!” In the state of mind I was in, that left me infuriated and frustrated. It didn’t matter to me at that moment that what she said was true, because it was only true for anyone who has seen deeply enough not to take thought content seriously. At that moment, it felt like I was being judged and found wanting. I see-sawed between fearing that I was wrong and stupid to be upset and thinking that she was just mean-spirited and didn’t understand me at all.

Once I saw more deeply, I realized for myself that when people have upsetting, doubt-filled thoughts, those thoughts are a temporary reality, but knowing they are thoughts coming from within our own minds, they don’t seem important. They, like all thoughts, are understood to be transitory, part of the flow of ideas that create our moment-to-moment experience of life. We know for ourselves that they are “just thoughts,” images we’ve created. When we know it for ourselves, we know not to take any particular thoughts seriously; we know we are always thinking; we know we can think for ourselves; we know we can turn our backs on thoughts that are bringing us into dark emotional places and quiet our minds and think again.

But, here’s what’s important, WE know it from our own insights. No one can tell us something is “just a thought” because, until we see it for ourselves, it looks like an important reality that consumes our awareness while those thoughts are on our minds.

What I have been humbled, again and again, to learn over the 30+ years I have been involved in this work is that everyone can see this for themselves because all human beings are innately resilient and spiritually whole, no matter where our thoughts have taken us in life. But no one can make another person see it. Our role is to show love and respect for people and to truly see the humanity in them, the health and wholeness in them, to see that, regardless of their habitual thinking or their lack of seeing their own power to think, they are intrinsically and simply complete human beings. As people come to peace and quiet in the presence of unconditional love and respect, we can count on their own wisdom to start to surface, and for insights to bubble up. They set themselves free. And then we can celebrate that with them and explain it so that the logic of it is clear and they incrementally gain confidence in their own wise insights.

That is why, in the world of our work, clients often say we “didn’t do that much.” That’s the joy of it. There isn’t that much to do because wisdom is the coin of the realm, shared by all. We may have beckoned to it, but the clients welcomed it and made it their companion and guide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why. Bad. Things.

Virtually every day, I’m asked some form of this question:

“Why do bad things happen?”

From a hard-working pro golfer failing to earn his or her tour card by a single stroke, to a horrific and deeply tragic event like what just took place in Las Vegas, why must innocent people suffer?

The answer is: We don’t have all the answers. But what I can tell you is this:

In the heat of the moment, or in the midst of suffering, nothing will make sense. Yet, from distance (if gained), we’ll find perspective.

Now, I surely don’t make this statement to make light of suffering, or to say that wounds don’t run deep. I make it to remind you that suffering is purely a figment of thought and one’s ensuing state of consciousness at that moment in time. When, for example, my thinking takes me back to childhood trauma, I suffer massively. When I get some distance from this train of thinking, I don’t. Again, the events of my childhood are what they are. What’s variable are my thinking and state of consciousness, which cause me to suffer or not to suffer.

Equally fascinating about “why bad things happen” is that, from distance and perspective, it’s common for people to describe the experience of suffering as a path to growth or even enlightenment. It’s as if suffering is part of a universal intelligence or greater plan at work; since, in suffering’s wake, so many of us become more resilient, connected, and loving.

Finally, I want to make clear that this article is not meant to ease suffering (that’s simply not possible); it’s meant to explain it. Suffering occurs when human beings do what human beings do: look outside—to circumstance, the past, other people, or ourselves—in a quest to figure out why we feel what we feel. Salvation occurs when human beings do what human beings also do: wake up to the folly in looking outside and turn back WITHIN.

In other words, the more we grasp just how normal the normal ebb and flow of the human experience truly is, the less our feelings will matter to us, the less we’ll struggle with struggle, and the less we’ll ask “why.”

Hang in everyone. Love,
Garret

So You Want Control?

This might surprise you, but a big part of my job is to remind people that the onus of control, decision making, effort, and even results is NOT truly on them. Every human being is an extension of a higher power. And, in my experience, when this spiritual truth is recognized, nearly everyone feels an overwhelming sense of freedom and relief. I say nearly because, occasionally, a new client or member of an audience I’m addressing will shoot back with this type of concern:

“That’s the problem, Garret. I want control. I must be in charge of my own destiny.”

In fact, just the other day, I was conducting a workshop when those very words were flung my way. I then countered with the following statement, which just poured out of me:

“Okay, my friend, you got it. I’m going to play exalted ruler and decree that you’re in total control of your life. Your thoughts, state of mind, decisions, and all outcomes are on YOU. No instinct or intuition. Every move you make must now be deliberate and calculated. You, and you alone, are driving the bus.”

What’s funny, or better yet unfortunate, is that this type of coaching paradigm is extremely common today. Many coaches and motivational gurus actually point others toward the concept of personal control or burden. And the ultimate result? Confusion, since everyone’s life contains a surplus of serendipitous or unexplainable occurrences that clearly take place out of our control. In sport, for example, athletes often describe their finest moments with words like, “I can’t believe that just happened, out of nowhere, or that was so effortless.” In those moments, control is the furthest thing from their minds.

Meanwhile, back to the man from the workshop. When ordained with complete control, he first replied, “Thanks, perfect.” But then, as concern and doubt flowed though him, he chuckled and pulled a 180: “Hang on, Garret, I assume that we can’t have it both ways (control some things, but not others), so no deal!”

Indeed, we can’t have it both ways because it doesn’t work both ways. As suggested earlier, you and a higher power aren’t separate; you are ONE. Meaning, trying to assume personal control—over anything—is simply not possible.

What a relief.

Garret