Love: It’s Not What You Think

Love is the stillness between thoughts.

Love is the safe space of wisdom.

Love is the clear light of creativity.

Love is the gentle attendant of fearlessness.

Love is the greatest gift of humanity.

Love generates the ideas that transform us and bring us peace.

Love recedes in the face of fear, but it does not disappear. It lodges deep in our hearts and faithfully awaits the moment of silence into which it will re-emerge.

When we open ourselves for even a moment to that silence, love never sleeps through it. Love shines into our minds and illuminates hope and possibility.

Love is the constant current that flows eternally beneath the turmoil of our thinking, the perfectly reliable movement stirring us to find comfort in the fluidity of life without getting distracted by the ups or downs.

No matter what we think about it, no matter the words we use, love is not what we think or what we say. Love is a spiritual force, the deep aliveness that is the essence of being before we think about it.

We are born in love. Just look at the innocent, bright-eyed curiosity and enthusiasm on any small child’s face, and you see that pure love. It is neither conditional nor specific. It is just unfettered engagement in life flowing through each person, most obvious before it is papered over by personal thinking.

We know it is at the heart of human experience because it is, and has always been, at the foundation of every significant religious framework we have known. It is the common good at the core of the experience of mankind. It is who we are before we think about who we are. It is the beautiful feeling most natural to us, before we learn to use our own power to think to fill our lives with the infinitude of possible experiences.

Love is like the pilot light of our emotional life. Feed it, and it burns where we need it. Starve it, and it flickers on, always ready, always there, always and ever the resource we have whenever we seek it.

We can turn our backs on love and nurture our personal emotional thinking whenever, and for however long, we choose. But as soon as we let it pass and look to quiet, love comes to light again. Love soothes us and draws us back into the dance of life, the easy movement with and around the other dancers, feeling the music of our common heartbeat and the joy of moving freely through time.

The Principles lead us back to love, to the purity of thought which offers us a non-judgmental fresh start moment-to-moment-to-moment. More and more people across the globe are drawn to see them at work behind life — the formless energy of mind pulsing through infinitude, the individual ability to think allowing each of us to make up whatever we want, the power of consciousness bringing those thoughts to awareness as our individual realities. More and more people are realizing that pure formless energy is love, and love is always the answer.

My love is like a red, red rose;

Its fragrance fills the air;

It guides me to a place of light,

Instead of dark despair.

                                                                                                                                   Sydney Banks

 

It is a good time in history to ask people to re-read the whole chapter on Love and Forgiveness in Sydney Banks’ The Missing Link., pp. 117-124.

As Mr. Banks reminded us, “A mind full of love and good feelings can never go wrong.”

 

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Love: It’s Not What You Think

Love is the stillness between thoughts.

Love is the safe space of wisdom.

Love is the clear light of creativity.

Love is the gentle attendant of fearlessness.

Love is the greatest gift of humanity.

Love generates the ideas that transform us and bring us peace.

Love recedes in the face of fear, but it does not disappear. It lodges deep in our hearts and faithfully awaits the moment of silence into which it will re-emerge.

When we open ourselves for even a moment to that silence, love never sleeps through it. Love shines into our minds and illuminates hope and possibility.

Love is the constant current that flows eternally beneath the turmoil of our thinking, the perfectly reliable movement stirring us to find comfort in the fluidity of life without getting distracted by the ups or downs.

No matter what we think about it, no matter the words we use, love is not what we think or what we say. Love is a spiritual force, the deep aliveness that is the essence of being before we think about it.

We are born in love. Just look at the innocent, bright-eyed curiosity and enthusiasm on any small child’s face, and you see that pure love. It is neither conditional nor specific. It is just unfettered engagement in life flowing through each person, most obvious before it is papered over by personal thinking.

We know it is at the heart of human experience because it is, and has always been, at the foundation of every significant religious framework we have known. It is the common good at the core of the experience of mankind. It is who we are before we think about who we are. It is the beautiful feeling most natural to us, before we learn to use our own power to think to fill our lives with the infinitude of possible experiences.

Love is like the pilot light of our emotional life. Feed it, and it burns where we need it. Starve it, and it flickers on, always ready, always there, always and ever the resource we have whenever we seek it.

We can turn our backs on love and nurture our personal emotional thinking whenever, and for however long, we choose. But as soon as we let it pass and look to quiet, love comes to light again. Love soothes us and draws us back into the dance of life, the easy movement with and around the other dancers, feeling the music of our common heartbeat and the joy of moving freely through time.

The Principles lead us back to love, to the purity of thought which offers us a non-judgmental fresh start moment-to-moment-to-moment. More and more people across the globe are drawn to see them at work behind life — the formless energy of mind pulsing through infinitude, the individual ability to think allowing each of us to make up whatever we want, the power of consciousness bringing those thoughts to awareness as our individual realities. More and more people are realizing that pure formless energy is love, and love is always the answer.

My love is like a red, red rose;

Its fragrance fills the air;

It guides me to a place of light,

Instead of dark despair.

                                                                                                                                   Sydney Banks

 

It is a good time in history to ask people to re-read the whole chapter on Love and Forgiveness in Sydney Banks’ The Missing Link., pp. 117-124.

As Mr. Banks reminded us, “A mind full of love and good feelings can never go wrong.”

 

The post Love: It’s Not What You Think appeared first on Three Principles Living.

Love: It’s Not What You Think

 

Love is the stillness between thoughts.

Love is the safe space of wisdom.

Love is the clear light of creativity.

Love is the gentle attendant of fearlessness.

Love is the greatest gift of humanity.

Love generates the ideas that transform us and bring us peace.

Love recedes in the face of fear, but it does not disappear. It lodges deep in our hearts and faithfully awaits the moment of silence into which it will re-emerge.

When we open ourselves for even a moment to that silence, love never sleeps through it. Love shines into our minds and illuminates hope and possibility.

Love is the constant current that flows eternally beneath the turmoil of our thinking, the perfectly reliable movement stirring us to find comfort in the fluidity of life without getting distracted by the ups or downs.

No matter what we think about it, no matter the words we use, love is not what we think or what we say. Love is a spiritual force, the deep aliveness that is the essence of being before we think about it.

We are born in love. Just look at the innocent, bright-eyed curiosity and enthusiasm on any small child’s face, and you see that pure love. It is neither conditional nor specific. It is just unfettered engagement in life flowing through each person, most obvious before it is papered over by personal thinking.

We know it is at the heart of human experience because it is, and has always been, at the foundation of every significant religious framework we have known. It is the common good at the core of the experience of mankind. It is who we are before we think about who we are. It is the beautiful feeling most natural to us, before we learn to use our own power to think to fill our lives with the infinitude of possible experiences.

Love is like the pilot light of our emotional life. Feed it, and it burns where we need it. Starve it, and it flickers on, always ready, always there, always and ever the resource we have whenever we seek it.

We can turn our backs on love and nurture our personal emotional thinking whenever, and for however long, we choose. But as soon as we let it pass and look to quiet, love comes to light again. Love soothes us and draws us back into the dance of life, the easy movement with and around the other dancers, feeling the music of our common heartbeat and the joy of moving freely through time.

The Principles lead us back to love, to the purity of thought which offers us a non-judgmental fresh start moment-to-moment-to-moment. More and more people across the globe are drawn to see them at work behind life — the formless energy of mind pulsing through infinitude, the individual ability to think allowing each of us to make up whatever we want, the power of consciousness bringing those thoughts to awareness as our individual realities. More and more people are realizing that pure formless energy is love, and love is always the answer.

Photo by Robert Scott https://www.flickr.com/photos/zackie/6045641820

My love is like a red, red rose;

Its fragrance fills the air;

It guides me to a place of light,

Instead of dark despair.

                                                                                                                                   Sydney Banks

 

It is a good time in history to ask people to re-read the whole chapter on Love and Forgiveness in Sydney Banks’ The Missing Link., pp. 117-124.

As Mr. Banks reminded us, “A mind full of love and good feelings can never go wrong.”

 

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Living a Dream

We are always living a dream. We cannot experience anything without thinking it first. Whatever thoughts we bring to mind create our experience, which lasts only as long as they are brought to mind. Our thoughts are uniquely our own; no two thinkers arrive at precisely the same thoughts, although many people can share a predilection for certain kinds of thoughts. So each life, truly, is a particular dream, experienced as it unfolds through each person’s thinking.

One of the first statements I saw from Sydney Banks is: “Life is a divine dream, suspended between time, space and matter.” I was fascinated by it, though I could not work out what it must mean at the time. It hung there in my imagination for a few years, equally puzzling to me each time I revisited it. Then I heard Syd speaking once about a conversation he had had with a scientist, in which Syd tried to point out that the constructs of time, space and matter are ideas we’ve made up to be able to talk about our universe. But the only truth is formless energy.  Peering through the thicket of already formed thoughts at formless energy is a pointless exercise. We are bound to be caught in the tangle of our thoughts, not seeing beyond them, if we try to work through them to clear a gateway to infinity.

That gave me the courage to ask Syd a question: “How can I understand that life is a divine dream, suspended between time, space and matter, if I cannot think about it?” At the time I asked that question, the only book Syd had published was Second Chance, in which there is considerable conversation about  SEEING (as opposed to seeing) and KNOWING (as opposed to knowing). The wise character in that book describes SEEING in these two passages, for example (although I highly recommend reading the entire book):

“Remember, I told you …. that there are more realities than meet the eye. This SEEING must come from an experience of SEEING another reality.” (p. 16)

“‘SEEING’ is what evolves man’s mind to a higher level of consciousness. It is this evolvement that enables him to psychologically understand himself and the world around him.” (p.26)

Syd did not answer my question directly, but instead asked me what I thought about Second Chance. I told him I was confused by it and did not know what it all meant. “Good,” he said, “it’s good to be able to admit you don’t know. That’s the opportunity for knowing. From a state of not knowing you are likely to SEE something new.”

So I remained baffled, but I dropped the whole idea of figuring it out. I found that acknowledging not knowing and being at peace with it had really quieted my mind down. Needing to know the answers all the time (a habit developed in elementary school where there was a high premium on being the first with your hand up) had been revving up my thinking a lot more than I had realized. From a quieter state of mind, I was able to glimpse that “SEEING” is spiritual and “seeing” is temporal: that is, SEEING is an experience beyond cognitive limits. SEEING is fluttering briefly into the emptiness before thought where you KNOW the power of thoughts forming, your own power to form thought, as a spiritual gift before form.  I realized that I had previously memorized, pondered about, and repeated the definitions of the Principles as they were always described, thus innocently focusing on the formed word to understand them, rather than awakening to the formless, the true Principles, the spiritual energy of all life in creation, before the words. I had been reading the notes, but missing the music.

That was one of the most exciting insights of my life, and it was a point of transformation. Oh, like all of us, I still talked about the logic of the Principles and described the inside-out outcomes of the ways we create and hold our thinking, but I knew that was all an interpretation of the point, not the point. Not the point. The point is beyond words, in Universal energy we all share and through which we become our formed selves. Seeing the pure energy at the source, though, we have certainty that anything we see or know now could change, simply with the formation of new thought. Access to that reality is through stillness, through quietude, not thinking harder.

Although we can talk about Thought and thoughts, we are pointing to the feeling of the power that frees us from any one thought to release the potential of infinite new thoughts. It doesn’t really matter what anyone thinks, how long they think it, or what they make of it, if they KNOW the Principles. That power is realized and experienced, not taught or learned. For me, in the instant I caught a glimpse of that, I SAW and KNEW the absolute absurdity of taking any thought seriously. No matter what. It’s no more possible to hang onto really beautiful thoughts than to drive away really ugly thoughts. They all pass naturally as the flow of formless energy continues to power us through life. We have to re-think them to “keep” them. When we SEE that for ourselves, we cannot possibly harm ourselves with our own thinking, any thinking. Because we KNOW we are living a dream brought to us by our unique imagination and the creative power of life. We know the dream is fleeting, evanescent, just images we create, passing across the screen of our minds, signifying nothing but the beautiful power to keep creating them.

For me, the depth of gratitude I feel for Sydney Banks for so simply expressing the possibility that any one of us, all of us, can SEE this for ourselves, is immeasurable.

 

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Spiritual? Practical? Both?

During a recent webinar, a participant thanked me for sharing “the practical” side of the Three Principles, mentioning that she had recently been exposed to a different speaker who focused on “the spiritual”. It had never before occurred to me to make that distinction when discussing the Principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought. To me, the universal, spiritual truth of the Principles is exactly what makes them practical.

So I’ve been reflecting on that. How could I do better at assuring that point is obvious? Why does clarity about a spiritual truth lead to effective practical work? Three reasons came into focus:

  1. question marksUnderstanding the Principles completely erases our bafflement about human behaviors.
  2. Understanding the Principles empowers us to confidently navigate our lives, no matter what.
  3. Understanding the Principles allows us to interact with others in a loving way, regardless of their state of mind.

 

I’ll take them one at a time.  First, before I understood the Principles at work behind all of life, I was constantly blindsided by other people’s unpredictable behaviors and totally unaware of my own. I was in business. I would have cordial meetings with potential clients or associates, and expect that they would follow through a certain consistent way, only to have them behave entirely differently at a subsequent encounter. I had no way to deal with that. It never dawned on me that people act differently in different states of mind, and that the “reality” they see changes dramatically as their tension rises and their mood drops — i.e., if they become more or less insecure. Nor did I realize that something that appeared “cordial” to me when I was in a calm and easy state of mind might look suspicious to me in a low mood. So I always felt like I was being buffeted about by reactions I couldn’t control or understand. I never saw the role of my own variable states of mind in my understanding of what was going on. Without realizing it, I lived in perpetual anxiety about where I stood.

As soon as I realized that the Principles represented Universal Spiritual Truth about all human beings, all the time, it all made sense to me. I started to pay more attention to my own and others’ states of mind, and pay less attention to the details of low-mood thinking. If a client called me in an upset, insecure state of mind, I saw it as my role to help the client calm down and clear his/her head — not to join in the upset and try to solve a problem that, of course, looked insoluble to a distressed person.

This was incredibly practical. First of all, my clients and colleagues now seemed understandable and innocent to me. I stopped wasting time worrying about issues that cropped up from bleak, discouraged states of mind. I stopped taking anger or frustration personally. I saw the ups and downs of myself and others as just part of life, and I knew better than to jump into the depths with people when they were at their worst because I knew it was temporary, that their thinking would change and their perspective would brighten, and we would have a chance to work things out easily in a higher state of mind.

My whole business changed completely with that insight alone. I lost all my fear of facing difficult situations. I knew, deep down, that I, and everyone in my life, had innate health. I knew that if I did not feed bad mood thinking or fuel the flames of insecurity, the tone would quickly shift and we could accomplish things readily. We all became a lot happier and more productive.

Second, when I realized the universal truth of the Principles, I lost my fear of the unknown, I didn’t react to my own insecure thinking, and I felt like I knew what I was doing, even when I was down. It no longer seemed like life was pushing me around; I saw clearly that I, and only I, was creating my experience of life. Life was not happening to me; it was happening through me, as I often share. Just being absolutely certain that I was the thinker of my own thoughts, the creator of my own life story, took all the pressure off me. If I didn’t like the way things were turning out, I had the power to change direction. I was able to relax and look at all life situations, good and bad, with equanimity.

What did that mean, practically speaking? It meant I was no longer too insecure to change when I saw new possibilities. It meant that I no longer saw risk as frightening. It opened whole new worlds to me, personally and professionally, allowing me to follow my heart, not confine myself to what my fears defined as “safe.”

Third, no one seemed threatening, or difficult, or hard to work with, or mean. Like all of us, I had some insecure thoughts that lingered in the realm of “reality” for me, but honestly, in each moment, I just started loving every person I was with, regardless of what they were doing. This made it possible for me to work successfully with clients or colleagues others might have avoided. It eased the way to forgiving others, and myself, for moments of insecurity.  It felt to me that I saw through the surface and into the sweet and innocent purity of the spiritual energy of each person, the “formlessness before the formation of form”, to quote Sydney Banks,  that gives each of us the potential for a fresh start in every moment of our lives. I gained increasing faith in the potential of every human being on earth to be at peace, and the confidence that this could come about easily in a moment of insight.

So looking at the world now, for example, I am saddened by the level of fear and insecurity that is drawing so many people into horrendous, dark places. But that does not shake my faith in the fact, the practical, absolute fact, that this can change. Will it? I don’t know. But the truth that it can, that it is just as likely for a person’s veil of fearful thinking to lift as for it to remain in place, allows me to continue happily in my work, hoping to touch one soul at a time, and hoping those souls will reach out and touch others, and we will, ultimately, bring quietude and joy to light across the world.

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Gratitude: a route to inner peace

Without any plan to do this, I have slipped into the habit, as I lay down to sleep, of thinking of something or someone from the past day for which I am grateful. And then, when I awaken, thinking of something I am grateful to look Into the lightforward to in the new day. Often, I am surprised by what comes to mind. Almost always, they are small things, or momentary unexpected encounters with people, that elicit a smile and a peaceful feeling. Sometimes, they are big things — pivotal moments in my life or opportunities that changed things for me completely. The effect is the same. Finding gratitude brings with it peace.

It occurred to me to share this experience with a client I saw recently who complained that she had trouble sleeping because as soon as she went to bed, her head filled with all the negative, unpleasant events of the past day, and she always awakened dreading what might happen today. As she talked, I remembered years of my life when I did that, too. Without any understanding of what I was doing, I would catalogue the negative events and the mistakes I had made as I went to bed, I would sleep fitfully, and I would wake up with my schedule and all its demands on my mind. I was always tired and out of sorts. I thought it was because my life was a pressure-cooker of demands and disappointments. Now I know it was because I had no idea what I was doing to myself with my own power to think.

My heart went out to my client because she really was exhausted and overwhelmed. She was jittery and on the verge of tears, and she confessed that she spent most of her days that way, drinking copious amounts of coffee to keep going and fighting off depression as she tried to get her job done and take care of her family. She said she always had a “looming sense of disaster.”

She was taken aback when I asked her if she had anything in her life for which to be thankful. “I’m sure I must,” she said, “I just never think about that.” I suggested we take a little time to think about that now.

It took her a few minutes to redirect her thinking, but then she started listing things. Her two children were healthy and happy in school. She had a secure job that paid well enough for her to get by as a single Mom without too much worry. She liked her landlord and she lived in a safe place that was well taken care of. Her parents lived nearby and enjoyed babysitting so she could get out sometimes. She liked the Church she attends and had good friends there. Her ex-husband paid child support regularly and, although he lives far away and never sees them, he does remember the children’s birthdays and holidays. She has a good friend who invites her and her children to a cabin in the NC mountains in the summer so they get to take an inexpensive vacation that the whole family enjoys.

As she slowly worked through this list, she relaxed, and her whole demeanor brightened. “I guess I really have a lot going for me,” she said sheepishly. “So why am I always so down on my life?”

She had opened the door to seeing something completely new to her:  What we call “life” is actually our moment-to-moment experience of the thinking we are bringing to mind about life. I explained to her that the little exercise we had just completed could be mistaken for “positive thinking” — but that the power behind it is NOT the power to fix or change the content of our thoughts. It’s realizing how easily each one of us can let some thoughts pass and entertain others, and knowing that the true power behind our perceptions is that we are making everything up — good and bad. That is the gift of the spiritual nature of life, the gift TO think. When we don’t know that we are the thinkers, it appears to us that we have no choice; when negative thinking floods our minds, or when we get in the habit of taking everything negative that comes to mind more seriously than other things, we spiral into misery and it starts looking like there’s no way out.

I asked, “Do you think you could have refused when I asked you to think of things for which you could be thankful?”

“Of course,” she said.  “I almost did. I wondered why you would want to waste my time not talking about my problems.”

“Then why did you decide to go along with it?”

“I don’t know. You seem like a nice person who wants to help me. It was kind of a refreshing request. So many people I have gone to for help have taken me deeper into all the bad stuff and I end up feeling worse. The idea of stepping away from it appealed to me. And then, once I started, I was surprised by how easy it was to keep coming up with more things.”

“So you were actually directing your own thoughts the whole time? You could have chosen to think anything, but you liked the idea of bringing different kinds of thoughts to mind.”

“Yes, I guess so. But what does that mean?”

“It means,” I said, “you are free. You do not have to live as the victim of your own most distressing thinking. You can think anything, and you can take whatever you think more or less seriously. It means your power to think your way through life is the key to the quality of your experience.”

“Wow,” she said. And she asked me to explain more about that. She began to look inside, at the power described by the Principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought. I saw her twice more, and then she thanked me and said that she was fine. She would call me if she needed any more help, but she really felt confident that she was realizing her own strength and everything was changing for the better.

That night, she came to mind as I lay down to sleep. I am deeply grateful for the work I get to do as a Mental Health Educator.

I leave you with this from Sydney Banks:

Gratitude and satisfaction have wonderful effects on our souls. They open our minds, clearing the way for wisdom and contentment to enter. Once you become grateful, the prison bars of your mind will fall away. Peace of mind and contentment will be yours.”              The Missing Link p. 131.

 

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Unmasking the memory terrorist

Many of the new clients I work with who have been in long-term psychological treatment are weary and discouraged. No matter how often and how long they have brought memories to mind, fought them, re-considered them, analyzed them, belittled them, re-enacted them, deconstructed them, reframed them, journaled them — the memories are still there. So they feel as though they are doomed to a life struggle against traumatic events from their past. They can’t change them, and they can’t defeat them, so they are stuck in an exhausting standoff,  locked in perpetual battle against an enemy that can barely be held at bay.

When I was a young girl, I remember one time asking my father, a lawyer, what was the most important thing a lawyer needed to know. He answered, “The best lawyers know their opponents’ cases as well as they do their own. They fully understand both sides of the issue.” That has stuck with me through my life as really good advice for every situation. If something matters to you, you should fully understand the obstacles to your success. This keeps occurring to me when I talk to my clients about memories.Syd memory quote

There is ultimately nothing that matters more to us in life than fostering our own peace and happiness, living in well-being. At the core, the one thing everyone in the world longs for is peace of mind. The primary obstacles to our peace of mind are troubling memories. That is why people go to battle against their memories, as though they were masked terrorists assaulting with unrelenting ferocity. We have been taught to do that. Be strong. Fight them. Don’t give in to them. But most people have no idea what a memory is, or how memories invade their minds. They can’t win , but they don’t know what else to do but keep fighting an enemy they do not understand and cannot root out at the source.

I’m here to insist that everything we think we know about memories is wrong. We can’t win with the battle plans we have because we are not engaged with a “real” enemy; we are innocently, innocently, innocently at war with ourselves, in a perpetual loop of frustration.

In my role as a mental health educator, I do not have any need to draw up new strategies against the memory terrorists with my clients. My job is to teach them to see memories for what they really are, to help them understand why memories appear so daunting, to rip the mask off the memories so they can truly see how powerless they are, and how they shrivel and fade in the face of recognition.

What is a memory? A memory is a thought about the past that we bring to mind in the present. When it is a happy thought and we find ourselves dwelling on it, we call it nostalgia, or reminiscing, or daydreaming. When it is a terrifying thought and we find ourselves dwelling on it, we call it ruminating, or depression, or Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS). The reason we have different names for the experience of  bringing memories to mind and holding them there is that each kind of memory carries with it a different feeling state, from the benign, to the horrifying. But in and of themselves, thoughts are thoughts, information we pull into the foreground of our minds. The feelings carry the power. But only if we let them.

All the strategies we use now force us to keep bringing old memories to mind to “do” something with or about them. But none of them point out to us that WE are the ones with the power to bring them to mind, or not. None of them point out to us that when they do come to mind, WE have the power to hang onto them, or let them pass, like any other thought. None of them point out to us that WE can choose how to hold and use our memories, and we can use the feeling states they carry to choose when to leave them alone and let them pass. None of them explain that WE are the thinkers; our memories do not think us, we think them. None of them point out to us that holding bad memories in place to fight them or manipulate them holds bad feelings in place, too, and WE have the power to change direction and leave those feelings aside, in any given moment.

When I explain this to my clients, I don’t need to ask for any details about their past. It’s better if they stay away from it, and just stay with me in the present moment, considering something new. I find that clients are relieved when I ask them instead to tell me what they’re interested in now, and what their hopes and dreams are from seeking mental health education.  They’re tired of clinging to a box of tissues while they re-hash the worst things about their lives. They like the hope that arises in the present moment.

I tell them that life is the spiritual experience of occupying a body and moving through time and space for a while in that form. I explain that the energy behind all life powers all of our abilities to do that, including the ability to think. I explain to them that we are designed to have a psychological experience of life, to bring thoughts to mind and then, while they are on our minds, to experience them, to be conscious of them, as though they are our reality. But only as long as they are on our minds. When we bring memories to mind, we re-experience old realities in the present. When we allow memories to pass through our minds, we return to present-moment thinking, new thoughts to guide us through life. We’re navigating that journey the whole way, and we are in charge of how and where we travel with our thoughts. We may not control the first thought — whatever pops into our head bad or good — but we definitely control the thought after that first thought. We can recognize thoughts we don’t like and leave them alone to move through our minds like an unwanted commercial on TV. Or we can grasp them and start thinking more about them.

Most often, what I hear is a sigh of relief. And most frequently, people say, “Why didn’t anybody tell me this before? That explains everything.”

More and more, people are telling their clients this. We call them Three Principles practitioners, and they are increasing in number and scope all over the world. They make all the things we have done to try to help people with memories in the past seem barbaric. But that’s the whole story of how things change. New discoveries take us to new understanding and we open our eyes to a whole new way of seeing life.

Welcome to the era of mental health education. It will, ultimately, replace therapy as we know it now.

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Life is spiritual

For years, as a member of the faculty of a medical school, I would answer doctors’ objections to talking about the spiritual with this question: Can you tell the difference between the living and the dead? Of course they could! That difference is the spiritual. The dead body has all the parts that make up the form of a living person; it is missing the formless, spiritual energy that gives it “life.”

The Three Principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought explain and describe that energy, placing our focus on the power of creating our life moment-to-moment, rather than living at the mercy of thinking we have created without realizing it. It’s really very simple, and although those of us who are dedicated to sharing the Principles have certain ways of putting it, we are hardly the first people in the world to point in that direction. The idea of formless spirituquote-spiritual-energy-flows-in-and-produces-effects-in-the-phenomenal-world-william-james-345060al energy underlies the philosophies and spiritual practices of all of mankind. The insights we share, which arose with the profound moment of truth experienced by Sydney Banks, simplify, clarify and offer the logic of the obvious.

Without spiritual energy, we would not be participants in the movement of life. Because we are alive, we are filled with potential to create and experience anything we can bring to life through our imagination. Because we are using that spiritual energy to create our own personal journey, we can change, we can evolve, we can transcend, or we can descend into a trap of our own making. The point is, we have the gift of life and the free will to use it however we see to use it.

People seem to back away from discussing the spiritual because they confuse the idea of spirituality with a belief system. Spiritual energy is both before beliefs and beyond beliefs. Without that gift, there would be no beliefs. But the beliefs different people create with the energy of life are completely arbitrary; we can use our power to create thought and see it as real to create anything.

If we sidestep the truth that life is spiritual, whatever we are talking about has nothing to do with the Principles, and with the true nature of the human experience. The profound explanation for everything that appears in our lives that is offered by the spiritual Principles is the breakthrough that lifts us beyond all the cognitive teaching in the world today. Once we understand where our thoughts come from, that they arise from our own power to create, it doesn’t matter what we think. It doesn’t matter what we think. That is crucial. As we glimpse the spiritual Principles at work within us, we can no longer frighten ourselves with our own thinking. We are free.

When we see the Principles more and more clearly, we always know what we are doing. When we use our power to think to bring bad memories to mind, we know we don’t have to hold them there, but we can use that same power to allow them to pass and bring new thoughts to mind. When we use our power to think to bring cravings and habits to mind, we know they are just our thinking and they will pass if we don’t take them seriously. When we use our thinking to bring negative emotions to mind, we know they will affect us for only as long as we continue to think them. That is the point. With understanding comes the power to live at peace, recognizing that our thinking is variable but our understanding that we are thinking is the constant recognition of all the thoughts we create as temporary illusions. We live from spirituality, not from the aftereffects of misunderstood thinking.

Mental health is the unconditional realization that our thoughts have no power; we are the power behind them.

The life force beyond all things has no form, yet it gives form to all things.

Sydney Banks, The Missing Link, p. 68.   sydney-banks

 

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No need to fix everything!

Lately I’ve talked with several clients who are sure that “fixing” something in their circumstances will bring them happiness. One is determined to find a job in a bigger city, where she thinks it will be “more fun” to live. One is trying to find a new set of room-mates and a new apartment because she thinks she needs to be with people who are nicer to her to be comfortable at home. Another is worried about the danger of living within 100 miles of a major US military installation and wants to move with her children to the wilderness because she thinks that’s the only way to be safe from terror.  Another is trying to change schools because he thinks campus life at his college is dumb and boring. You get the idea. If I can just change this or that thing in my life, then I’ll be happy.Fixing thing

It doesn’t work that way. Or, in the words of one of my early mentors in the Three Principles, “No matter where you go or what you do, you take your head with you.”

  • People who are searching for happiness from places, things or other people will never find just the right ones; nothing, no matter how wonderful, can create happiness for someone who thinks it will come from circumstances.
  • People who are insecure and feel judged will think they are put down no matter how nice others are to them; self-doubt is consistently suspicious of kindness.
  • Worriers will always find something to worry about; worry is like playing endless whack-a-mole.
  • People who are dissatisfied can’t be satisfied by changing their situation; there’s something wrong no matter where they look.

Trying to fix things outside of ourselves is a fool’s errand. It keeps us really busy, in some cases it runs us ragged, to keep looking, looking, looking for that perfect whatever, that moment when we finally get everything right. all pretty and polished. It’s a lifetime of hard work that is destined to fail because the real source of what looks wrong to us is not “out there” at all. We joke about it (see chart), but even our jokes seem misdirected; tea and movies won’t “fix” anything, either, aside from providing brief distraction from the need to fix. Because, irony of ironies, the “fault” is in our understanding of ourselves, not in the world.

Now I’m not suggesting that people shouldn’t make changes in their lives if it makes sense to do so. There are plenty of good reasons to move or to make new friends or to shift from one school to another, and so on. The problem is that none of those good reasons come to light when we’re in a low state of mind. They emerge as insights from wisdom when we are at peace, not when we are invested in “fixing,” but rather in seeing opportunity in change. This may seem like a subtle point, but it isn’t.

When I first was exposed to the Principles, I was just like those clients I described, probably worse. I thought all my stress, anxiety, worry and depression was “caused” by the business I was in and the life I was leading. I dreamed of a Nirvana, somewhere, where I could find peace, but running off to some paradise was an impossibility; I had a family; I had civic obligations; I had business responsibilities.  I was a wreck because I thought the only way to fix my life was to change everything, but I couldn’t change anything. So on top of everything else, I was frustrated because I thought I knew what the “fix” was but it was out of my reach. A basket case, indeed. In that state, when I first heard that I could change my life from within without changing a single iota of the external details, I thought it was ridiculous.

But I was a business person and a pragmatist. I knew that when something you’re doing is not producing the result you want, you can’t succeed by closing your mind to alternatives.  You’ve got to listen to new ideas, try new directions. You’ve got to look at “best practices,” things that others are doing that are working. The more “Principles people” I met, the more I realized they were not overwhelmed, discouraged or disgruntled in the face of disappointment. Nothing seemed to bother them, and yet a lot of them were facing far greater challenges in life than anything I had. They were all at the front end of something brand new in the world that was generally greeted with negativity, suspicion. rejection, insults and mockery. Yet they happily persevered. They fearlessly took risks and they gracefully accepted the consequences when things didn’t work out. When things did work out, they were grateful, but not prideful. And they had a lot of fun.

It wasn’t really difficult for me to answer this question: Do you want to go on doing what you’re doing, exhausted, sad, crying every morning, blaming your business, losing your youth and vibrant health to the erosion of depression and stress — or do you want to enjoy your life and your work, embrace things the way they are, be unafraid to try things if you have a clearly wise idea, and have a great time?   Hmmm. It would be hard to call that a tough one.

What did it take? It was as easy as discovering you’re heading the wrong way on a road and just turning around. As soon as I was willing to admit that there was another way to understand life and started looking in that direction, I felt hopeful and calmed down. I stopped fighting my circumstances and started appreciating internal quietude. I discovered that when I didn’t engage circular thinking from the outset, it faded away. I defaulted to moments of peace of mind and started having insights that were real solutions to so-called problems. I began to see the logic of the Principles at work behind life and find great comfort in the face that every “reality” generated by my thinking was just an illusion of the moment.

All it took was the decision that it was worth looking away from the chaotic thinking that had dominated my waking hours and realizing that when I wasn’t trapped in it,  it disappeared from view and grew less and less visible even when I looked in the rear view mirror.

Peace of mind, it turns out, really is one thought away. Not any one particular thought. Just the one thought that works for you when you decide to stop trying to fix all the stuff in your life and look deep instead of far and wide. From a quiet mind, all the answers we need flow effortlessly.

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The truth about “reality” (It’s what you think)

Principles are true whether we like them or not, whether we agree with them or not, whether we even know about them or not. Principles are the essential logic of the universe. As we discover them, things that were confusing suddenly make sense.

little boy counting

Think of little children before they have recognized the principle of addition. If you ask a toddler who is playing with some friends how many cookies you should bring in so he and each of his friends can have one, the answer is likely to be something like “lebenty-seven”. Toddlers haven’t seen yet that you can count by adding one to one, one more to two — until you have counted everyone. So that ordinary question is a nonsense question to the toddler, and any answer that sounds like a number will do. If you ask the same question to a six-year-old, he will count his friends and himself and tell you the number of children in the room, understanding that one cookie per person will be the same number.

Until we discover principles for all of the aspects of life that baffle us, we do the best we can making up theories and answers without any foundation. From the moment of birth, we are on a life-long journey of discovery. As soon as principles are recognized, understanding flourishes. Logic and common sense are revealed.

So it has been with human behavior. Until very recently, there were no universal answers to these kinds of questions:

  1. Why do people react so differently to the same events?
  2. Why do people remember the same things fondly or with humor sometimes and with anger or regret other times?
  3. Why do people lash out at others they truly love and have no desire to hurt?
  4. How do people miss things that are happening right in front of them?

 

To explain the array of human behaviors and experiences, we have looked for external causes. We look around and ask ourselves who or what made us do that? Whatever is close at hand or comes to mind looks like the culprit. I yelled at someone I really like and respect. What made me do that? Must be the angry driver that cut me off moments before that got me all stirred up. Or maybe it’s because my mother yelled at me while I was growing up and I can’t help it because it’s part of who I am. … My teenager, normally responsible, forgot about an upcoming test and didn’t study for it. Must be the distraction of that new girlfriend who calls him all the time. Or maybe it’s because we pressure him to excel and he is sending us a message?  … I lost a report my boss needed for a meeting. Why? Must be because I’m so tired from being kept awake by my neighbor’s loud music. Or maybe I’m undermining my boss because he reminds me of that uncle I couldn’t stand when I was growing up?  We could make a full-time job out of the blame game (some would say we do), and it wouldn’t solve anything or change anything or help us to see how to sidestep behaviors we don’t like.

At last, it is beginning to dawn on us that we can’t understand ourselves by looking all around after the fact. Now we are learning to turn and look inside at the psychological functioning of all human beings and, deeper than that, at the spiritual source of that functioning, to understand behaviors. This change in direction began with the discovery of the Principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought, the fundamental logic that explains who we are and how we operate. We are, at our core, pure energy. We manifest that energy as ideas and images that pass through our minds. We are aware of what is passing through our minds because our sensory systems register it. As that understanding spreads, more and more people experience a moment of insight that we are all the source of our own thinking, feelings and behaviors, that the common core of humanity is that every person on the planet, regardless of what they’re saying or doing, is generating that experience exactly the same way, using the universal energy of life to create the expression we call our individual life on earth.

At last, people are starting to recognize that we live in this world by thinking our way through it, by the creative process of forming one thought after another and experiencing that thought as reality. In simple terms, at last we’re seeing that what isn’t on our mind isn’t in our life at that moment. The only means we have of knowing what is going on in our lives is bringing things to mind, and to the extent we are aware that we are doing that, we are more or less free to shape our experience.

The simplest of life examples bring this home:

    • I was in a hurry to get to work some years ago and was talking on my car phone to a client who was anxious for an answer. My head was full of the client’s problem as I backed out of my driveway, directly into the rear end of a big red truck that was parked across the street from me. It was there when I got into the car. I had looked into my rear view mirror, habitually. But because I was so distracted by all my work-related thoughts, I didn’t “see” the truck. Was it part of that moment’s “reality”? Absolutely. Was it part of “my” reality? No. My only reality was the client’s urgent issues.
    • I arrived in my room at a beautiful resort hotel in California one afternoon right before sunset. I had just been facilitating a large retreat and I was trying to sort out whether to take a different approach the next day because of some of the questions that had been raised at the end. I stood in front of the window, focused on my problem, playing the day’s events over in my mind. When I went down to dinner, the waiter asked me if I had seen the sunset that night. “No, why?” I asked. “It was gorgeous,” he said. It had happened right in front of my unseeing eyes from my west-facing room, but I missed it entirely. My mind was on my work.
    • When my grandson was little, he loved to invent things. He had all kinds of problem-solving ideas, and he would describe them in great detail to me as we were sitting on my porch. One afternoon, I heard him say, “So what do you think, Grammie? Will it work?” Tears came to my eyes as I realized he had been talking to me about an idea for several minutes and my mind had been elsewhere. I had no idea what he had been describing to me.

 

We all have many stories like that. The common thread is that whatever we are thinking about IS the moment for us, no matter what is really happening around us. The fundamental truth is that we can use the universal gift of thinking that we all share however we choose to, and we will experience our choice as if life were happening to us, even though it is truly happening through us. The depth with which we come to realize, appreciate and use this power is the measure of our joy in life. As soon as we can “see” and feel how we are using our thinking, we have the power to change. We find gratitude and empowerment in the knowledge that we are always, as Sydney Banks says, “one thought away from an entirely different reality.”

“Thought on its own is a completely neutral gift. Thought is not reality; yet it is through Thought that our realities are created. It is what we are humans put into our thoughts that dictates what we think of life. Among the greatest gifts given to us are the powers of free thought and free will, which give us the stamp of individuality, enabling us to see life as we wish. These same gifts can also be the greatest weaknesses of humanity.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sydney Banks, The Missing Link, pp. 49-50

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