Unconditional Love…

Unconditional Love…

When I first got involved in Innate Health, I heard a lot about unconditional love being the answer, no matter what the problem might be. Back then, it sounded nice, but meaningless, to me. I was stepping into this new world from a life that was totally transactional, a life of “If…then”. If I got this contract, then I could give my employees a Christmas bonus; if my daughter got straight A’s, then we would take her to DisneyWorld; if I lost five pounds, then I could wear the red dress to the party… Everything was conditional, including love. Both my husband and I would say things to each other that started with, “If you really loved me, you would…”

Now, 30-some years later, it is so vividly true to me that unconditional love is the answer to everything that it brings tears to my eyes just to think about it. Unconditional love has nothing to do with human transactions. Unconditional love arises in the spirit. It is the pure, uninhibited joy of being alive and integral to the universe.

Conditionality is a human transaction, a product of thought that imposes ideas on how things should be. We make and believe in our own assumptions without any understanding that they are our fabrications. We do not embrace the unpredictable variability of life or of everyone and everything in it. Anything we find acceptable must conform to our opinions and expectations. We reject people and things that don’t fit our ideas or do not make sense within our world view.

Unconditionality is the inchoate vitality before formed thought. It presents no judgment about life or anything in it. We surrender to the flow of it. Without expectations or judgments, we are immersed in being. Unpredictability, variability do not look disorderly or strange as life unfolds moment-to-moment. It just is. We just are. Everything is rich, fascinating, and materializing in the moment.

Unconditionality is profound love of life, of the beautiful energy surging through the universe and through us, and of the wonder of being united with the essential formless force, and yet creating our own passage within it. Unconditional love is the fullness of heart that emerges from pure appreciation of all of it — the darkness and the light, the perfect and the imperfect, the same and the different, the known and the unknown. Unconditional love is deep, soothing peace. In the “isness” of the universe,  there is nothing and no one to fear. We are safe in each present moment in the emerging wisdom that is always available to us. Wisdom is the knowledge that binds the universe together through the creative dynamic of being.

Why is the state of unconditional love the answer, no matter the problem?

The simple fact is that a person who is living with a free and clear mind in that unconditional feeling of gratitude and reverence for life does not bring to mind thoughts of harming or being harmed. No selfish, greedy thoughts. No mean, hurtful thoughts. No disappointed, discouraged thoughts. No resentful, vengeful thoughts. No anxious, fearful thoughts. That state of mind, that state of being, brings with it access to the flow of wisdom and confidence, moment-to-moment, that we can count on to guide us through life’s ups and downs. Wisdom propels us forward. Entertaining negative or dysfunctional or destructive thinking feels wrong and unpleasant if it enters the mind.  Those who understand the nature of thought turn away from such ideas — just allow them to pass without action — and look to quiet their thinking and embrace wisdom once more.

Is it unrealistic or even wildly pollyanna to imagine that such a state could come to dominate the experience of humanity? That is an unanswered question. Until we turn our backs on the belief that the content of our personal thinking is more important than our understanding of the true spiritual being through which we are generating that thinking, we will not know the answer. Beliefs seem powerful. They look very real to us while they are on our minds, especially when we don’t know how they got there. As more and more people come to recognize themselves as the agents of life, rather than seeing circumstances as the agency of their life, the ease with which humanity can find personal peace of mind and act from wisdom increases. When wisdom informs more and more of human choices, we will live in a different world, grounded in peace and hope, filled with unconditional love.

Once unconditional love is illuminated as the quintessential power to live, then who would not want to call it home? Who would willingly turn away from natural peace and joy?

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Principle of Mind

Last week, I published a brief Blog and video posting about the Three Principles as discovered by Sydney Banks, the foundation of Mental Health Education as I and thousands of others practice it. This week, I offer another brief Blog and video, just on the Principle of Mind. (The Principle of Thought will be next week, and The Principle of Consciousness after that.) I hope these are helpful to sharing the profound understanding of how these Principles can change the understanding of the true human potential for peace, across the globe.

When asked why there are three Principles, Sydney Banks used to say, “Well, actually there is just Mind. But we would not know it without Thought and Consciousness. Combine those three and there is nothing more we need to see life.” To see this in depth in Sydney Banks’ own words, read The Missing Link, or any of his other books, all of which can be found at Lone Pine Press.

As much as we try to talk about Mind, there is really little we can say because our very presence on earth is after the fact of Mind. So just as we cannot ask a savant to describe how he “learned” his gift, we cannot ask ourselves to describe how we acquired the gifts that give us life.  All we can know is that we are alive, and filled with the potential that being alive in a dynamic state allows us the possibility, at any moment, to change. The Principles describe our power to change, and it all starts with Mind.

This video is also available on You Tube

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Is It Easy to Be Happy?

Recently I saw a new client who sobbed at the outset, “I don’t see how I will ever be happy again!” An hour later, as she left, she was laughing. “I’ve sure been a big drama queen with all that serious thinking, haven’t I?” she said.

How does a shift like that happen? In the simplest terms, it is the natural outcome of what Principles practitioners do that is new to treatment. We don’t take unhappiness seriously. We point people to the true, constant, unfailing, spiritual source of human happiness that nothing can touch. We teach people what mental well-being is, and where it comes from, and how we lose and regain our faith in it. They see the universal logic of it and realize what they’ve been doing to themselves with the innocent misuse of their own power. They “wake up” to the truth that, no matter what, deep down we are born to be at peace.

I write about these cases a lot, but it seems like we can’t tell this story enough. The way traditional therapy addresses psychological distress is not working effectively enough to stem the increase in stress, anxiety, and depression, the afflictions of the so-called “functional mentally ill,” because almost all approaches are attempting to give people tools to solve their problems or drugs to dull them. But the “problems” are slippery. They are the variable artifacts of the way people are thinking about them. And the more people and their therapists talk about them and dwell on them and take them seriously, the worse they appear. Principles practitioners realize we should not be treating people’s problems as though they have a reality of their own. We should be addressing people’s understanding of their states of mind, of the nature of thought, of the spiritual power we all have to create thought and take it more or less seriously. We should be helping them to understand when to take their own thinking to heart and when to let it pass and allow their minds to quiet.

We all take for granted without question the way our minds work on ordinary things. I go into a store and see an item I just love, but I don’t think I should spend the money. So I walk away. A few days later, I go back and think, “OK, if I love it that much, I should really buy it.” But when I look at it again, I don’t love it that much. Did the item change? No. My thinking about the item changed. I read recipes right before I go to the grocery store and I start thinking I really should try some of those exotic vegetables. I buy them. Two days later, I get ready to make dinner and I look at them and think, “Too much trouble. I’ll just make a salad.” Are the vegetables any less nutritious? Any less appealing? No. But my thinking about how much effort I’m willing to make to cook them has changed. No one would argue with examples like this.

But what about “serious problems?” That’s when we lose our perspective on the fact that things look different in different states of mind.  In the depth of seriousness, it really does look like there is no other way to see the problem. We forget that life is filled with ups and downs for all people, all the time. There are a lot of serious downs for everyone: we lose dear friends and loved ones; relationships fall apart; arguments escalate; bad things happen in the world; we lose homes and businesses to weather events; things break down just when we need them to work, investments fail; we fall victim to crime or violence. Everyone’s life can change in any moment. And in the midst of the worst things, we feel deeply painful emotions.

But here’s the thing about problems. You can’t change them.  You can only change how you approach them, how you think about them, how much of your peace of mind you are willing to give to them. The “drama” we suffer around problems is not a present moment, creative response.  The only way we experience drama is through dwelling on memories and regrets about what has happened, or dwelling on fear of what might happen next. In the present moment, with a clear head and a quiet mind, we just see how to move forward, one step at a time.

Here’s an example. I once worked with a client who, after years of what can only be called torture, finally escaped an abusive relationship and got far away from her abuser, to a place he would never find her or think to look for her. In a moment of clarity, she had an insight about how to do this and acted on it. For a few weeks, she was exhilarated in her new, free state. She found a job, found a place to live, started a new life. But then she started believing that her abuser would find her because she had let an old friend know that she was OK. What if the friend told him? What if the friend told someone else who told him? She couldn’t sleep nights. She was afraid every time she heard a footstep. She became, as she described, “a bunch of jangling nerves that never shut up.” She was just as terrified as she had been when she was living under the abuser’s roof. She started our conversation trembling, in tears, saying she would never, ever be free of him, no matter where she went. She insisted on closing the blinds to the room where we were meeting so no one could look in and see her. She had made her appointment under a false name and she arrived at the appointment wearing huge sunglasses with her long hair stuffed up under a wide-brimmed hat.

She wanted to talk to me about strategy. Should she move again? Should she chop off and dye her hair and have surgery to change her appearance? Should she change her name? Should she go to another country? She had thousands of thoughts about what she should or could do racing through her mind.

I wanted to talk to her about the beautiful feeling she had when she got the powerful insight about how to escape. She only needed to reconnect to that feeling, to that sense of peace and freedom and certainty, because in that feeling state, she would know what to do now.

I had no idea if any of her fears were justified, or if any of her ideas would work for her. It’s not my place to give advice to people because, in a calm state of mind, they are the experts on their own life choices. My job was to bring her back to the present moment and help her to quiet her frantic thinking and get calm. From that state, she would recognize the idea that would work out for her because her next insight would also come with an uplifting feeling in a moment of calm.

After a few sessions, she called me. She had read The Missing Link that I had shared with her, focusing on the passages about wisdom. She had done her best to quiet down and look in the direction I was pointing in our sessions. The morning she called me, it had dawned on her that she was working for a national corporation, a large big box store with thousands of locations all over the county, and she could ask her human resources department if there were any similar opportunities in different locations. She went right in to talk with them, and found out she could transfer to another state within a couple of weeks, if she was willing to move herself. She was making her plans to move. She had confided in her human resources advisor what her situation was, and the woman had a lot of compassion for her and was very helpful.

“This was such an obvious answer,” she said. “It was right in front of me the whole time. I just didn’t see it. Isn’t that weird? All of a sudden, it just popped into my head.”

Not weird at all, I assured her. It’s the guarantee of the human operating system. If we don’t over-ride the thinking that is natural to us, the easy flow of thought in the present moment, we keep getting the answers that make sense for us.

Did she really need to move? Was this the very best possible solution? It doesn’t matter. She found an answer she felt good about that made sense to her, and she found the understanding of where the answers come from that will continue to keep her safe. She found her happiness, and she knew where to look if she lost it again.

Was it easy?

To me, it’s the simple path to take. Trust that you have innate wisdom. See disquiet and insecurity as a sign you need to let your mind settle. Follow quiet and good feelings. They lead directly to happiness. When we are happy, “problems” fit into the tapestry of our lives and fade from the moment as understanding and solutions come to mind.

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Join me and my colleagues Dr. Bill Pettit and Christine Heath in June for a wonderful retreat, Awaken Joy!        We will share the incredible power of happiness and peace of mind to change our lives, and the world around us.

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Listen for a feeling

I will never forget the first time I sat in a big conference where Sydney Banks was speaking and heard him say, “Don’t listen to my words; listen for a feeling.” It was very early on in my exposure to the Principles, and I came close to fleeing the room.  As a hard-working, hard-charging business person in a service business, who had been a tough-minded newspaper reporter, I was highly educated and well-trained to listen to and pay close attention to words. Every word mattered. Getting people’s words “right” mattered.  I had a Master’s Degree with a focus on Linguistics, for heaven’s sake, and that was all about words. If you didn’t focus closely on words, you could end up being sued in my work. Feelings!? Huh???

I probably would have fled, except that I was seated in the middle of a row. I glanced around me; everyone was sitting quietly, unconcerned about what Syd had just said, just taking things in. I would have embarrassed the person who had brought me if I clambered over a bunch of quiet people to rush for an exit, and I was also trained to be courteous. So I sat there, trying not to display my restless confusion, wondering what the heck it meant to “listen for a feeling.” I didn’t hear much else that day because, of course, I could not figure that out. So I was still puzzling over it on the drive home.

On the way, I asked the person who had brought me. The ambiguous answer infuriated me, but I kept that to myself, too, for the sake of politeness. “I imagine it means something different to each person who hears it. You have to see it for yourself.” I turned on the radio, hoping to mask how annoyed I was.  That night, I lay in bed in turmoil. “Listen for a feeling,” just four ordinary little words, and they were so outside of my world when strung together that I could make no sense of them at all. I had spent more than an hour in the audience of the talk of a self-confessed uneducated person, and I had no idea of the meaning of what I had heard. Yet hundreds of other people in the room seemed to think it was wonderful. During the break, I didn’t hear a single other soul complain about being perplexed.

When I confessed my fear that whatever this was, it just wasn’t for me — too weird and airy-fairy — to my mentor, he just laughed and said, “Let it go. Just relax. It will all come together for you when you stop trying so hard.”

“But, but,” I spluttered. “I run a business. You guys are trying to turn my brain to mush.”

“Sorry,” he said. “We don’t have that kind of power. You can only do that to yourself. But don’t worry about it. It won’t last. How about we go get some lunch?”

Oh, I tell you, in the beginning these people were maddening! The more agitated I became, the less interested they were in talking about it (unlike most of my friends). But I admit that lunch and a few jokes and some trivial conversation that day cheered me up.

OK, I was at a turning point. I could walk away from a group of people who seemed to me to be uncommonly happy, contented, productive and kind, who seemed to really enjoy their lives, and thereby lose any chance of learning what they knew that I didn’t. Or I could just stop worrying about it and hang out with them, as they suggested, and see what happened if I wasn’t analyzing every single word they said to me.  It was not actually a tough choice. What person who aspired to sanity would walk away from people who clearly cared, had my best interests at heart, and really wanted things to work out well for me? Despite my prickly attitude, they actually seemed to like me; they were immune to taking offense.

Fast forward a year, a wonderful year of soaking in the experience of spending a lot of time with high-spirited, high-minded, compassionate people who just loved their work and life in general. I took the advice to “thank my brain for sharing” when a bunch of questions would start popping up in my head, and I discovered quietude. I discovered having no need whatsoever to keep talking when I had nothing contributory to say. Everyone noticed how much calmer I was.

And then, one magical day, I “heard” the feeling. I can remember that moment with the exactness of a perfectly enlarged and preserved photograph. I was holding a staff meeting with my employees. We had been struggling for a while with how to handle a particularly difficult — all right, abusive — client who was also a major contributor to our income. That afternoon, I just “saw” that I had to put an end to our contract with that client, no matter the financial implications. I had an insight of total moral and ethical clarity; it served no one to go along with abuse for the sake of money. I gathered my staff, after notifying the client, and I told them what I had done. They immediately launched a barrage of technical questions, but instead of hearing their questions, what I heard was, “they are all feeling insecure about this.” The feeling of insecurity loomed in my mind much larger than any specific question.

“You know what,” I said, “we don’t need to worry about all these details right now. We will work it out. And I have tremendous confidence in all of us staying together, working together, and doing just great together. This is just a moment in time. We have no idea, yet, what we might be able to accomplish without spending so much time on a negative situation, so let’s just have our coffee and cookies and enjoy some free time together.”

There was zero precedent for that in my previous work life. The “old” me, the one who couldn’t even imagine listening for a feeling and following that, instead of my intellect, would have forged on, trying to answer each and every question, getting into the weeds of what it would be like to extricate ourselves from a contract, keeping the meeting going until every last question was discussed for as long as people wanted to keep talking about it. I would have been drawing charts and lists up on the board, sending people out to find certain files for reference, calling our attorney and our accountant, focusing on the words people were saying as though, if I really got to the bottom of everyone’s concerns, it would all work out just great.

The “new” me, the one who heard the feeling, simply realized that what my staff needed was reassurance and getting their minds off their fearful questions until they could enjoy their freedom and think fresh. And you know what? That was absolutely perfect. We chatted and had coffee and the cookies someone always brought to our meetings, then went back to work. Within a few days, I had reviewed the dissolution with our attorney and our accountant and I had a game plan. We had a brief meeting; everyone saw what they needed to do, and it turned into a routine business transaction. No biggie.

The big surprise, though, was that my staff relaxed so much once that was behind us that they actually became ambassadors for our work. Our existing clients started telling their friends and colleagues how much they were enjoying working with us, and how pleasant our staff was. Within a year, we had nearly doubled our business.

And from that one meeting forward, that one time I was so fortunate that my head had cleared and my heart had heard, I lost my attachment to my intellect, and I lived in a world of feelings and responded to them with love and care, just as my mentors had responded to me.

Oh, wow! It was so simple, when I let it be simple.

I don’t mean to suggest that I turned into a lifelong model of great leadership with that one big insight. We’re all human; we drop into insecurity before we even see it coming; we do things we regret; we second-guess our own wisdom. But there was one permanent change in my life. That anxious, analytical, revved-up state did not, I repeat, did not feel normal to me, did not feel good to me. It wasn’t my baseline any more. I saw it as a warning sign to slow down and try to weather it until it passed, rather than a green light to create a lot of activity around me. My intent was to regain my good feelings as soon as I could. I did my best not to pay much attention to my own complicated thinking at those times. And I always knew that the quieter, calmer more insightful me was the real me, the true me, the core me that could be sidelined but would always be ready to step back into the game.

Once any of us sees that, we cannot be tricked by our own minds. We know where we are, and we find our way as long as we listen for a feeling.

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Seriously?

Consider this story: Not long ago, I was meeting with a person who started our conversation in tears, feeling hopeless because of a family situation that was outside of her control, but involved her children in a way that she could not think about without more tears and more pain. As she tried to explain it to me in gasps crying girlbetween the sobs, she grasped her head in her hands and said, “This is so serious. Sometimes I just want to kill myself. I can’t do anything about it.”

Before I understood how human psychology actually works and where our thoughts come from and how we connect to deeper wisdom, I would have felt equally helpless to do anything but comfort her the best I could and listen to the whole story as long as she wanted to talk about it. We’ve all done that — tried to be the best shoulder to cry on that we could be and take people’s problems seriously.

Now, though, that makes no sense to me. I do not indulge seriousness because it is a dreadful, heavy feeling that pulls us away from creativity, wisdom and optimism. When we are in a state of seriousness, we cannot even trust that we are seeing situations clearly because a cloud of gloom falls over our thinking. I know that I have made the worst decisions of my life in a state of seriousness, and I know that I have never once solved a problem that I was taking seriously.

Still, people get confused between respect and seriousness. To those who do not see unconditional innate health and resiliency in everyone, regardless of circumstances and regardless of their current state of mind, it seems right and kind to delve into people’s problems, to get them to talk about them a lot, to help them to “get it all out,” to indulge the pain and to treat it as important. This is so engrained into our mental health system that seriousness is dominant and pervasive, among providers and patients alike. We have lost sight of the idea that people have a psychological immune system just as powerful as their physical immune system: the ability to see their own thinking for what it is and to leave it alone and allow it to pass when it is hurtful. It is a tough sell to tell helpers that the worst thing we can possibly do for those we want to help is to hold their pain in place by continually encouraging them to think more about it when they are distressed and serious.

But wouldn’t it be unprofessional, rude and thoughtless to try to lighten the mood of a person who has “serious” problems? Don’t they have every reason to be sad, and shouldn’t we take their pain to heart? Well, it would be if they were stuck in seriousness for life and the best we could do is to ease their misery. But once we understand how our minds work, it’s clear that we are never “stuck” in any feeling state or way of using our thinking. Seriousness, like all other feelings, comes and goes, and the only way we can make it “stay” is to keep thinking and thinking in circles when we don’t have an answer and feel hopeless about it.

So, in the recent example I just shared, I looked at that person and my heart went out to her because I knew, in that instant, she was really hurting. But I also knew that she was only a momentary thought away from a shift, from her spirits lifting, her thinking clearing, and her innate wisdom coming to mind. I knew she could never clear a space for that momentary thought if I leaped with her into the maelstrom of her upsetting thinking. So I listened a little and then I said, “I know this looks hopeless to you now and it’s very upsetting to you to keep thinking about it. Honestly, it would help us to sort things out together when you feel a little more calm and clear-headed.”

“That’s true,” she said. “It’s hard for me to keep going over and over this situation and never have an answer or a new idea.”

How would she come to that conclusion? Because wisdom is always right there for us, waiting for the tiniest opening, and maybe a little beam of hope slipped in when I introduced the idea that she would and could feel more calm and clear-headed. We fixed some coffee together and sat by a window, looking out at a grassy area, as we sipped it. The sobbing stopped. She managed a small smile and thanked me for the coffee.

As she quieted down, she suddenly said, “You know, I don’t know why I get so upset about this. I think it’s because my ex-husband is in control of the kids’ lives now and I don’t see enough of them to matter much. I realize I’m doing everything I can to change my life so I can be a better mother, and this will change in time. Sometimes I just forget that. I put myself in a bad situation and now I’m pulling myself out of it. Getting so wrapped up in what’s wrong is just slowing my progress, isn’t it?”

We talked about her children and she showed me some cute pictures, and we even laughed at a couple of her stories of things they had said and done. After a while, she thanked me profusely. “I’m back on track,” she said.

“Would you like me to explain to you what just happened so you can feel more confident about getting back on track in the future,” I asked. And she said yes. So now, she was in the state of mind that allowed her to listen and take in the simple, powerful idea of Innate Health.

Our thinking is not created by our circumstances. Our thinking creates the way we experience life circumstances. When we’re in a low mood and a high state of tension, our thinking is habitual and dark and reactive, and circumstances feel daunting to us. As our mood lifts and our tension subsides, our thinking is fresh and clear and responsive, and circumstances feel malleable to us.

The ability to think arises from the formless, spiritual energy of life. It is a natural part of our humanity, just as our heartbeat is innate and built into us. Thoughts take form in our minds as life flows through us. To the degree we see ourselves as the source of our own thinking, the creators of our own thoughts, we know we can take any thoughts more or less seriously, but no thought has a life beyond the life we give it. We can turn away from our thoughts when they begin to cascade into craters of unhappiness. We can see them for what they are, ideas and images we are creating in a “down” state of mind that will form and look different to us in a higher state of mind.  When we’re onto ourselves about our thinking, there is no way we can take ourselves seriously.

So, seriously? Yes, seriously. Give it up. The thinking that helps us and guides us and uplifts us is always available to us. We can lose touch with it for a while, but we can never lose it. When seriousness passes, clarity, wisdom and happiness unfold their wings and soar into our minds, just as the birds emerge from the trees when a storm has passed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wisdom is not an opinion

How soon we abandon the lessons of fairy tales, scripture, children’s books! How readily we disregard the common sense of life experience! How innocently we fall into the maelstrom of insecurity, then panic as we start to drown in our own fear! As quickly as we fall, however, we can arise from the nightmare and find the innate resiliency we need to restore balance, wisdom and hope. This is the promise of a true understanding of how our minds work: we live in the experience of the reality we create with the power of our own thinking. If our thinking is angry, hateful, fearful and anxious, we will see everything and everyone around us through the feelings of suspicion and despair. If our thinking changes, the same things immediately seem different to us. We have the power to know the difference and self-correct.

Spiritual teachings have always pointed us inside,  to even a tiny glimpse of the inner peace that transcends the thoughts of the moment. From that pure state, wisdom and insight blossom through our thinking,  just as flowers push up through the cracks in concrete. The flowers are always potential; a tiny crack allows them to actualize. Pansy grows from concrete

It is painful to watch others devolve into insecure thinking and wreak havoc on their own lives. That is why we have so much conversation about mental health now. We have seen far too many tragic instances of people descending into a hell of their own and then dragging innocent bystanders into the same pit of fire.

It is even more painful when the “others” are governments, nations, institutions, collections of individuals gathered for a common purpose, who lose their way but still have the power, from their own worst psychological states, to pull multitudes, a nation, or the world, with them into dystopia.

How does it happen? It’s very simple. When we lose sight of the tremendous “gift” we have of recognizing our own changing feeling states —  states of mind —  as true barometers of the quality of our thinking, we start taking all our thoughts seriously. We have no perspective on what makes sense and is helpful. We get attached to our opinions, no matter how bad we feel.

Most importantly, we lose connection with our humanity and the common truth that all human beings are operating from the logic of the same principles: We create thoughts that look like the only “real” reality to us. We forget that we are all creating separate thoughts and separate realities; we all behave according to what we perceive. In a manner of speaking, we live out of our moment-to-moment personal opinions of what is happening. As soon as we  regain our balance, quiet down, and restore calm and clarity, we can see the truth behind  disagreement and hatred. We  see that when people are caught up in whatever negative, dramatic reality they have have created from their own thinking, they are certain that everyone else can and should be seeing exactly the same thing! In that state, we lose all appreciation for difference, all tolerance for disagreement, all capacity for understanding that people in opposition to us are living life exactly the same way we are — we are all thinkers making up our experience as we go.

Others are just as certain of the absolute reality of their thoughts as we are of ours. In a calm state of mind, we know that. From that vantage point, we can realize that the only way to find peace and revive good will is to find a deeper feeling of appreciation for our shared experience as thinkers, and look for common ground in our capacity to create, rather than trying to sort out the mess we have already created.

We can recognize the quality of our thoughts only when we awaken to our own bad feelings and see them as a warning that our own thinking is heading away from inspiration and wisdom and towards insecurity and rigidity. As soon as we start to navigate our lives via our feeling state rather than by the content of any given thought, we steer ourselves away from upset and and towards calm and peace. If I am angry and upset, it isn’t because of you, it’s because of how I am using my thinking about you at this moment. I don’t have to change you or change your mind, I just have to quiet down, find a more positive feeling state, clear my head, and look to my insights for resolution. Sadly, a lot of self-help in the world today points us towards recognition of our thoughts, paying extra attention to our thought content, doing something with thoughts. To me, that’s forcing us to become immersed in the problem rather than looking towards the solution.

An already-thought thought, as I often say, is like an already-baked cookie. If the cookie tastes terrible (if the thought generates bad feelings), there’s no way to pull it apart and re-make it with the old recipe and the old ingredients. The only answer is to taste the cookie, realize how awful it is, throw that batch away, and start fresh. The resolution is not in repeating the bad recipe again and again. It’s recognizing yucky stuff for what it is and allowing ourselves to find and try a new recipe.

The post Wisdom is not an opinion appeared first on Three Principles Living.

Squandering Our Power

Across the developed world, environmentalists have gotten our attention about power. We use energy efficient light bulbs, appliances and devices. We turn things off. We adjust our home thermometers not to waste power when and where no one needs to be warm or cool. We care about gas mileage. We recycle. We are increasingly committed to conserve  and use the power we have wisely in every aspect of our lives…

Except the most important.Brain power

I repeat. Except the most important. Across the world, we are squandering the absolutely most important, greatest infinitely and universally available power of all of humanity: Our power to think and create. To use our minds to know the difference between wisdom and insanity. To use our freedom to follow the thinking that inspires, uplifts, creates, harmonizes, resolves, and leads us to transcend all limitations at any moment.

At some point in time, it will be known that the greatest tragedy of the current era was that humanity squandered the most valuable resource we had and almost destroyed itself and the planet. It will be recognized that we squandered our personal power because humanity was almost entirely oblivious to the fact that the only — I repeat, the only — cause of hatred, of murder, of warfare, of anger, of frustration, of mistrust, of every horrible thing of which humanity is capable is unrecognized negative, insecure thinking taken seriously over time.  The tortured thinking that each person living in anguish is making up from the inherent power of all human beings to think for themselves and see what they think as their personal reality is the source of all of humanity’s pain. As soon as people see that, see for themselves that thinking is something we are doing and that our thinking is entirely within our control, and thus our personal realities are entirely within our control, they change. They just do. They change because people are intrinsically drawn towards peace and happiness. When people see that it is within their own power to find peace and happiness, they use that power constructively. They use it easily because it is right there; it is innate; it is our birthright as human beings to use the power we have to think to create our personal experience of reality. It is the only way we see life.

The truth is all around us. When we see people operating from wisdom, common sense, love, compassion, ease, grace, we are deeply touched. We admire them as though they were special. We fail to realize  that there is no difference between them and anyone else except that they are using their power to think more wisely, and following positive feelings to higher levels of thinking. No one is special. Some people are just more deeply in touch with their own psycho-bio-spiritual health and wisdom. Some people cherish peace of mind over upset, and know it’s within them to find it.

When I look at the huge unsolved problems humanity faces, locally, regionally, nationally, globally — everywhere — it hurts my heart to know that the answers are simple and available. But we can’t find them when our minds are agitated and tormented with fear and negativity.

If, suddenly, across the world, people woke up to the fact that we are all living in a thought-created reality that could change in a moment, it would change in a moment. We don’t like what we have created. We don’t like poverty. We don’t like to see people demonizing others and committing unspeakable atrocities. We don’t like war. We don’t like starving children, displaced families, resources blown to smithereens by senseless terror, murdered innocents, hateful discourse, brutality… No one would choose any of the awful things we face today — if they knew there was a choice.

There is a choice. It is one thought away.

As soon as the world realizes that we are creating all of humanity’s experiences from the inside-out, that our experiences are not the product of our circumstances, but our circumstances are the product of our own thinking, everything will change. Quickly.

There is a whole movement sweeping across the globe doing everything in our power to elicit that change, to awaken others to the extraordinary gifts we have as human beings, the infinite, universal power to use our minds to think and create the life we want.

For those who have seen it, ordinary life changes that appear to be miracles occur all around us, all the time.

Look into it; follow the resources below. Please. Let’s join together to stop squandering the only real power we have that can change everything.

Cut off from innate wisdom, a lost thinker experiences isolation, fear and confusion. This is why there are so many horrible atrocities throughout the world. Newspapers are full of wars, killings, children starving.  Ignorance of our own inner wisdom is the cause of sin. There would be no sin without such ignorance. The malfunction of our own personal thought system instigates the breakdown of personal relationships and leads to the crumbling of societies, causing unnecessary suffering and sadness. The misled thoughts of humanity, alienated from their inner wisdom, cause all violence, cruelty and savagery in this world. Since the beginning, the state of any society is a direct result of its conditioned way of thinking. As you think, so you shall hear. The sage hears fools and wise alike. The fool hears only fools.”

                                                                             Sydney Banks, The Missing Link

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How I met Leon

I don’t tell this story often because, for people who aren’t used to trusting the power of a calm state of mind, it is at best weird and at worst frightening. But it’s true, and it happened to me in New York City in the early ’90’s, when my daughter was a student at New York University, living in a tiny apartment not large enough for me to stay with her. When I visited, I stayed at the Washington Square Park Hotel, several blocks from her.

One night, while I was walking back to the hotel from her apartment, I had the prickly dsc_0020-1feeling there was someone a few steps behind me. My first thought was to run or scream, but that didn’t make sense. I was walking past closed academic buildings. I did not know who was behind me or why; I wondered how to find out. I came to a crosswalk and stopped, and the person behind me remained behind me. He or she was hesitating; it occurred to me that the person was tentative about what to do next, too. They must be insecure about what they’re thinking of doing. Then the thought came to me that no one who is taking so much time to act can remain intent on doing harm to someone who is friendly and cares about them. So I turned around, extended my hand to what turned out to be a young man in a navy blue hooded sweat shirt. I said, “Hi, my name is Judy; what is yours?”

He was startled. He stood stiffly and stared at me. I kept talking.

“You know,” I said, “I was visiting someone back a few blocks that way. I am on my way to where I’m staying. I’m a little nervous walking alone. I didn’t realize it would be so quiet out here. Would you walk with me? I’d feel better if I had someone to walk with. What is your name?”

There was a pause, and then he relaxed, shook my hand, and said, “My name is Leon. And, yeah, I’ll walk with you.”

I asked him where he was from. “The park,” he answered. “I used to live in an apartment, but my mother got sent to jail and my little sister got sent to foster care. I am too old for that. So they just put me out. I live in the park now. In boxes, or whatever I can find to sleep in. I don’t sleep much. I’m scared most of the time.”

“Are you in school?” I asked. He looked downcast. “I was. I can’t go to school any more. I don’t have an address. I have no place to get cleaned up. I dropped out.” He told me he was nearing the end of 11th grade when he dropped out. He said he had had a B average and he used to think he would be able to go on to a public college, but now he had no hope of finishing his education.

I asked him if he had ever heard of the GED. He had, but he didn’t think he could take it. He didn’t have an address or a phone number, or parents at home. How could he fill out an application form? I told him, “Leon, come on, be a New Yorker. You can do it. Just put a number from any pizza box you find in the park on the form, use your old address and your mother’s real name. No one is going to call you; forms just need to be filled out. No one checks the information. Just pay close attention and make sure you know where the test is given and what time, and show up. You can go pick up your scores; they don’t have to mail them to you.”

“Do you think I could pass?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I said, “but if you were doing well in school and just about finished 11th grade, you probably will pass. And if you don’t,  just take it again. Once you know what you missed, you can always go to the public library and study on your own. You have nothing to do anyway; you’ll be a lot safer in the library and you can read there all day long if you want to. Don’t give up on learning just because you’re not in school right now.”

As we walked along, he told me how worried he was about his little sister, and how frightened he was living on his own in the park. He never knew day to day what was going to happen, or how he would eat. He looked for a job at first, but there wasn’t anything that didn’t require a high school degree and now he was embarrassed because he looked so dirty and unkempt when he went to apply. “They look right through me like I’m nobody,” he said.

“You’re somebody,” I said. “You’re Leon. You can decide what Leon will become. Don’t give up your choices.”

We came near to my hotel, and I stopped and said, “Well, we’re just about where I was going. I want you to promise me that you will follow up on that GED. I know you can do it. You’re young; you were on a good path; you can get back on it.”

“Thank you,” he said, and then shook my hand again and started to walk away.

I called him back. I took out my wallet and went to hand him most of the cash I had.

“Oh, no, you’ve been so nice. I couldn’t take it,” he said.

“You were going to take it before we met, weren’t you?” I said.

“Well, yeah, but that was before I knew you. You’ve been really nice.”

“Now,” I said, “you can take it because I am freely giving it. Remember this: More people than you think will help you in life if you ask. Don’t do stupid stuff when you’re desperate. Calm down and look for someone friendly to help you along the way.”

He took the cash and waited on the sidewalk as I walked up the steps to the door of the hotel. When I turned to wave, he said, “I’m going to do what we talked about. I am. I promise. Thank you.”

I never saw him again, and I have no idea what he did with the money or whether he ever went to take his GED. But I know he did not hurt me, and maybe I helped him that night.

And I am sure that trusting myself to know what to do if I kept from jumping ahead of the moment and didn’t get reactive saved us both from harm that night.

Wisdom gives us the answer to every situation. The answer is always love.

“Love and understanding harmonize the mind of humanity to its true inner nature. What you give in life is what you receive. To give love is to receive love. A mind full of love and good feelings can never go wrong.”

Sydney Banks, The Missing Link, p. 117.


Ask the deeper questions

A flood of questions follows horrifying actions like the Boston Marathon bombing. Who is to blame? How did it happen? Why? Could we have stopped it? Can we keep it from happening again? We analyze each incident with an excruciatingly complex compilation of details. We hope for answers from the accumulation of minutiae.

Shouldn’t we also ask the deeper questions, the questions that would generalize speexploding mindcific events to insights about the universal nature of fury, hatred, alienation, dissociation in human beings? Have we taken seriously the critical need to truly understand and address mental health, not only here, but across the globe? What erupts within the human heart and mind to inflame the rage to kill?  Could anything inhibit the rabidity that fuels terror? Could people ever see how to create and sustain peace and stability?

In order to fully prevent — to eradicate — anything, the source must be clearly identified. Until the root cause is certain, prevention is randomly effective and situational. For example, even though it had been known since the Roman Empire that sewage must be diverted to avoid widespread sickness in concentrated populations, no one knew what was intrinsic to sewage that was the actual cause of illness until the germ theory of disease was proven in the mid-1800’s. Then we knew how the primary source of illness could contaminate and disseminate in many ways. Solving the spread of the one true source was the answer that allowed us to begin to control diseases.

As we think about cruelty, violence, evil now, we are like the ancient Romans. We want to keep them away from populations, so we look after the fact to figure out how to do that better. We take it for granted that dealing with those dark aspects of human behavior is inevitable, so we keep looking for more ways to wall them off and push them farther from us — more security, more barricades, more restrictions, more suspicion, more weapons. We are especially dismayed in the face of obvious ambiguity, of situations like the Boston bombers and other youthful terrorists around the world.  Those who grew up around the perpetrators often tell us that they were good kids, good friends, happy guys. How could that be?  Does the potential for terror lurk even in the apparently nice people we generally like? Why would seemingly intelligent, athletic, friendly young men turn into ruthless, remorseless, mass killers? What is the contaminant? How do we keep it away?

In the more than 30 years I have been working to extend the reach of the Principles of an inside-out logic that explains the whole range of human experience, I have wondered  why some central questions have not generally registered with people. For example:

  1. If  the causes of human behavior are external, why wouldn’t the same external forces create the same reactions in everyone exposed to them?
  2. Since common sense shows us that people respond differently to the same external circumstances, why aren’t we looking for the mediator that explains that?

Questions that reach below the surface of our prevailing assumptions easily get lost. It is the history of humanity to live within the boundaries of the theories about life that are most widely accepted in our eras. So, before the discovery of germ theory, people accepted frequent contagion and widespread outbreaks of disease as normal “acts of nature”. Now, we see them as abnormal and we know what to look for to bring them under control.

At this point in our general understanding of human psychology, the prevailing theories all suggest that life happens to us, and everything we think and feel and do is generated by things outside ourselves. Without realizing it, we see ourselves as perpetual victims of circumstances, both good and bad. We consistently look for causes outside ourselves to explain effects within ourselves. Who or what should we blame or thank for our experience of life? He made me mad. You make me cheerful. I’ll be happy if … Of course, he or she is this or that — look at his or her family/schooling/background/environment/friends/religion… Because we empower all the stuff in our life, we are always struggling with things outside of our control.

What if we are missing a crucial link in our understanding of ourselves? What if we generate our experience from within, by the thoughts that flow through us, mediated by the level of awareness we have that we are the thinkers of our own thoughts and thus the creators of our own experience of reality? What if the power is within each person on earth to recognize how thinking works and see how to discriminate wise thinking from destructive thinking? What if this knowledge is intrinsic, but not always understood, and therefore easily awakened? What if the universal source of all of our responses to the external world is the way we hold and use our own thinking about it?

Reflect for a moment. A mind at peace does not, could not, conceive violence as a viable action. A mind at peace creates ease, connection to other people, compassion and engagement in life. A mind in turmoil will conceive and act on whatever thoughts seem to offer relief from inner torment. A mind in turmoil creates insecurity, righteous self-absorption, alienation, hatred and disregard for life.

If part of early education, just as ordinary as math and reading, were a true understanding of how our own minds, how all human minds, work to create our experience, young people would know early on how to use their feeling state to navigate their own thinking. They would recognize which thoughts make sense to guide them into action, and which thoughts to leave alone. They would not be frightened by any of their thinking, regardless of how bizarre or destructive, because they would understand that all thoughts are fleeting images created within our own minds that have no meaning beyond our level of commitment to them. They would live at peace within themselves. When we are at peace inside, there will be peace in the world.

Cut off from innate wisdom, a lost thinker experiences isolation, fear and confusion. This is why there are so many atrocities throughout the world.  Sydney Banks, The Missing Link, p 83.