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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Are You Thinking When you Say, “It’s Just My Thinking”?

What Are You Thinking When you Say “It’s Just My Thinking”? I’ve recently encountered a number of people in the 3P community who have mentioned that they  went through a rough

Cure Seriousness! Lighten Up!

Avoid being afflicted with Seriousness. It’s debilitating. It brings people down. It hurts. It takes all the fun out of life as long as you have it. It can linger a long time. It can lead to health complications. It’s much worse than the flu.

I talked to a client recently who clearly manifested that he had suffered from Seriousness for more than 40 years. He had the medical and life history to prove it. He cried a lot in the beginning of our session. His story included abusive parents, painful childhood, two abusive marriages; abusive girlfriends; abusive children; violence; deceitful friends — nothing and nobody good. He had just had another in a long history of surgeries and was finding recovery slow and painful. He couldn’t remember ever being happy or carefree. He had been in therapy for 30 of the last 40 years with all kinds of practitioners. But he had never talked to anyone who was a Mental Health mentor before. And he could offer no definition at all of mental health. Asked about it, he gave a definition that involved being marginally functional and able to survive despite mental illnesses. An example of mental health he came up with was being able to get to a doctor’s appointment while having a panic attack, even though the person who had promised to drive him let him down and he had to drive himself.

He didn’t know why he even asked to talk to me because, honestly, no one has ever been able to help. He had also done all sorts of New Age searching and tried all kinds of non-traditional activities. None of that had helped. He was sure he was born to be miserable. So he didn’t want me to feel bad if I couldn’t help him either.  Several counselors in his past had refused to see him for follow-up after a couple of sessions; he figured I would do that, too, and he was already mentally prepared to be rejected again. He had no hope and no expectations that anything could or would change.

“Given all that, why haven’t you just killed yourself?” I asked. “What’s the point of going on?”

That slowed his whiny train of thought. “What kind of damn question is that?” he demanded. “Why would I do that?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I just haven’t heard you mention any reason to go on living yet, so I thought I’d ask.”

“Of course I have reasons to go on living!” he snorted.

And here’s how it went from there:

Me: “Great! Glad to hear it! What are they?”

Client: What are what?

Me: What are your reasons to go on living?”

Client: Well, you must know some. I can’t think of them right now.”

Me: Do you have any idea why you can’t think of them?

Client: They’re just not coming to mind.

Me: Why not?

Client: I don’t know.

Me: Do you want to know?

Client: Why? Do you know? How would you know that?

Let me stop here. The reason I’m telling this story is to illustrate that people can’t hear anything new when their minds are racing around the same old track. There’s no point talking to a suffering person about feeling better until they have at least a tiny inclination that they might want to hear you. It took me a long time to learn that. I used to think that just being in a good feeling and talking spiritual truth would lead our clients to change. But after a while, it dawned on me that the most unhappy clients who were mired in misery weren’t even remotely aware of how I was or what I was saying.  I might as well have been a lamp in the room. They were just thinking, thinking, thinking of all their problems without a moment’s interruption. So what I’ve learned is, even if it takes most of a session, there’s no use trying to explain to people that you can help them until they get curious enough to pay attention to something other than their insecure thoughts.

This is the crucial thing people who work from the Three Principles  know: People can’t be thinking a hundred miles an hour about the negative stuff they’ve always thought about and listen at the same time. But the secret to lightening up is that they are only one thought away — a millisecond away — from thinking differently. We can’t launch right into sharing new ideas until someone becomes curious enough to slow down and wonder. As soon as they do, things can change really quickly because the steady voice of their own wisdom breaks right through the din.

There’s no technique to that. I’m a former newspaper reporter, so I tend naturally to ask questions to get to the deeper point. Other people have other ways of going about it. The way is not the issue. No matter the intervention, it comes to us from wisdom in the moment, with the client, while we are neutrally listening to them. We need to keep listening until we get an insight about where to go with them. This is not burdensome because we don’t take their sad stories seriously and we know that the person is perfectly mentally healthy and has just lost sight of it. They can’t turn in a new direction until they notice that fork in the road. So until they stop high-speed thinking the way they’ve always thought in the direction they’ve always gone, our purpose is to care about them, “see” the health in them, listen to them, and know that the right intervention will come to mind.

The humbling part is that we are all very different and if you put the same client in the room with 50 different 3 Principles practitioners, the conversation would go 50 different ways. The common thread would be that the practitioner listened and had the faith to keep listening  until his/her own wisdom revealed a direction.  Anything we do and say from wisdom will work out. And once clients are turning towards their own health, instead of reviewing the history of their distress and their problems, they will start to change, and all we have to do is foster, nurture, and encourage that change.

The most fascinating part, to me, is that almost always, I am inspired to do something that causes the client to lighten up, that breaks the chain of Seriousness.  Wisdom takes us towards lightheartedness. Thinking back over years and years of working with people, I realize that the best moments came when the client could laugh at something they had cried over only moments ago.

In the case of the client story I mentioned here, by the end of that first session, the client was laughing at the fact that he was supposed to keep his feet propped up when he sat down and had totally forgotten, and he could still stand up.

“Look at that!” he said, when he stood up at the end of our meeting.  “I just stood up without my cane, and I hadn’t even propped my feet up while we were meeting. I must be getting better. Or something.” Then he laughed, “I suppose you would tell me it’s because I’m not thinking about how sick I am right now.”

Yup. That would  be a great reason to go on living. Imagine all the things you can think about that you’ve never thought about before!

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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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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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True Change: Beyond the Illusion

We all change a lot over time. We grow from babyhood through childhood and adulthood to old age, with all the physical and mental changes that accompany life stages. We gain and lose weight. We get in shape; we get out of shape. We change our hair. We adopt new styles. We change locations. We change relationships. We change professions. We change financial status. We change our preferences. We change our politics. We change our reading habits. We change our minds in the face of new information.

Those “changes” are all illusions of reality we experience as we think our way through life. They have nothing to do with the spiritual change inspired by the Three Principles. So it is all too easy for people to say, “I heard so-and-so speak, and now I’ve changed my mind about …” Or “I listened to a Syd Banks tape and it changed me from being all stressed out to being really calmed down.” None of those represent the change we are looking for from an ever-clearer understanding of the Principles that are the essence of life. Any time change appears to result  from some external interaction — with a person, an event, an incident, a book, a lecture, a tape — it is temporary and illusory. Even if it takes us in a better direction than we were heading, it is not true change.

True change is suddenly seeing a different world. It happens in an instant, from insight, and once it has happened, there is no going back. It is looking out through your own mind and eyes at the very same things or ideas you were just looking at and realizing they all look completely different to you. It is a realization of something suddenly so obvious that you can’t even imagine that you ever missed it. It is a surge of feeling, a sense of clarity and certainty that brings with it peace and freedom and hope beyond the limits of your intellectual knowledge of life.

Many people first engage with the Principles and immediately grasp the common sense of the idea that we create our experience of reality via thought. I couldn’t begin to count the number of clients who have sat across from me, nodding, and saying, “Uh-huh. Yup. That makes sense. I’ve thought that before.” — and they feel just the same as they did when they walked in the door. They were hearing and analyzing  the intellectual content of the logic, without any connection to the spiritual truth of it. They are thinking about thought as content, missing the power of Thought as a Principle, the absolute freedom to create anything from nothing. What they’re agreeing to won’t make any difference at that point because the missing piece is the unfathomable experience of spiritual change, which is both ordinary and amazing at the same time. When clients aren’t listening in neutral but are engaging the gears of the intellect, I stop talking about the Principles immediately. Whatever they take from that conversation at that level will just make it harder to hear their own wisdom. (If I stop talking about the Principles, what DO I talk about? It doesn’t matter — anything that comes to mind that seems right in the moment to just put the client’s mind to rest and allow them to clear their heads and stop trying to figure out what I’m saying.)

It is a fact that the Three Principles, described and defined, are a logical, explanatory framework. They even seem linear to people — mind powers thought which powers consciousness —  although the very idea of timeless, formless, immutable truths being linear, which is a time and space concept, is incomprehensible. People teach them like addition, or subtraction, or evaporation, or a million other simple things. It doesn’t take much for everyone to learn them. But then what? Big deal. When you keep adding items or taking items away, you get bigger or smaller numbers. If you leave a bowl of water out, it will eventually dry up. That kind of knowledge doesn’t do anything for anyone until something DAWNS on them — yes, just like the sun rising to illuminate the shadowy darkness — what it really means. It doesn’t awaken understanding that leads to peace, wisdom and freedom, until we SEE something deeper than the facts and the logic.

Remember when you were little and you learned to count? At first, the only point was you could delight your family by correctly telling them “how many.” But then when you saw the deeper implications of knowing “how many” — how that knowledge empowered you to interact with the world — counting meant something to you. It allowed you to discover things for yourself and see the world through fresh eyes.

Sydney Banks talks about (his capital letters intended) SEEING. When I first encountered that, in Second Chance (p. 15), I was totally baffled by it,  and even a little annoyed because when the word SEE was first uttered, Jonathan, the wise figure in the book, says, “I can’t tell you what I mean by SEEING. It is something you must experience for yourself.”  The intellect wants a definition and a chart. I was thinking my way through a book that was never intended to be analyzed like a regular book. The best advice I ever got was to stop wondering about it and trying to figure it out, and just leave my thinking alone. That’s what “reflection” means; turning to internal quietude and simply allowing new ideas to emerge from nowhere. That “nowhere” is the spiritual power of the Principles, the formless energy from which we are formed with everything we need to create the experience of our lives.

My first experience of SEEING was the realization of how many times I had already SEEN and truly changed in my life, when a new idea took form in my mind and completely eradicated everything I had previously thought about that subject. One example. At the age of 29, after 12 years of trying and  to quit smoking because I completely understood all the medical and scientific evidenced that it was bad for me and especially bad for ME because I was prone to bronchial infections, I SAW smoking differently. I had not been able to smoke while I was pregnant; it was one of those things that made me sick during that time. I couldn’t wait until after the baby was born so I could smoke again. When I was first home from the hospital with my beautiful baby girl, a friend brought me cigarettes. I was so excited! I sat down with her to have a smoke, and I looked down at my sweet baby in her little lacy bassinette, and I SAW: “I am in charge of the air she breathes. She has no choice.” Suddenly, the whole idea of me, or anyone else, smoking anywhere near my baby was unconscionable to me. It looked entirely different. I never smoked again and I never gave it a second thought. That insight, in a moment, completely erased all the struggles and efforts of quitting. Why would I even think about it? It simply made no sense to smoke.

We all have moments like that, again and again, but we rarely pause to reflect on what they mean, on how deeply true change affects us and how it simplifies our life. We expend a huge amount of time and effort figuring out strategies for change, when all that is needed is quietude and insight. Sometimes the change is small, and sometimes it is a hugely significant turning point. — Always it is clarifying, refreshing. Always it is a reminder of the spiritual power that is our birthright; the extraordinary gift of the Principles at work behind all of life.

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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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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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Why teach the innate?

If every living person, no exceptions, has innate health, why would we feel the need to share or teach the Principles that point people in that direction? Doesn’t “innate” imply you already know it?

To be honest, that  nagged at me for a while when I first started in this work. I saw how much all of us were helping people out of psychological distress by describing the Principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought at work, but I had difficulty reconciling that with the idea of innate health. Oh, yes, we told people that we’re not imparting intellectual knowledge, we’re pointing you to your own wisdom, eliciting the “realization” of something you’ve always, deep-down, known. But if someone asked, “Why would I go to a course about something I already know?”, I felt a little flummoxed.

I had an “Aha!” moment when a client said to me, “I always thought that times I stayed calm and somehow came up with good answers were just dumb luck. Until I talked to you, I didn’t realize the spiritual nature of life, or that it was intrinsic to me to do that. I didn’t know where it was coming from until you explained the inner workings of Mind, Thought and Consciousness.”

Aha!

From New York Times

We enter this world with a lot of things we simply take for granted. Our whole system is functioning, without any notice or effort from us. Our ability to think and see our thinking as reality is part of all of that. We just “see” and “feel” and never wonder how.  Our various moods, reactions, negative or positive thinking all seem pretty random, and it appears to us that they are at least influenced by externals.

A lot of people spend their whole lives simply “knowing” that they don’t have to be worried about what they were thinking because all thinking passes. It’s the source of volumes of  advice we all received from elders in our lives:

  • “Just sleep on it, honey, it will look different in the morning.”
  • “Don’t take yourself so seriously; you’ll change your mind before you know it.”
  • “You don’t need to talk about every little thing that comes to mind. Let some of it go if it makes you feel bad.” 
  • “Don’t think about it any more right now; you’re too worked up. It will all make sense when you calm down.” 

We could all add to this list from our own growing up. Those aphorisms made common sense and resonated with us, but we never knew why. As time went by, many of us concluded that they were all easier said than done.  But we were always glad that sometimes we felt great and things seemed easier.

The Principles explain everything. Innate mental well-being is our natural state, a spiritual gift that comes with life. We also have the gift of free will, the ability to direct our thinking any way we want. We can override common sense ideas. We can dwell on the negative. We can celebrate the positive. We can allow thoughts to come and go. We can overthink thoughts and add layers of complexity. We can reflect and evolve our ideas. We’re the navigators as we think our way through life. And our built-in GPS is the feeling state we’re experiencing. When we start feeling tense and our mood plummets, that’s the warning sign that we’re misusing our gift of thought. We’re at the controls. We can turn away; we can stop; or we can accelerate.

If we understand the whole system and know how to use the GPS, we know better than to accelerate into danger and misery. It’s just that simple. Once people truly “see” the Principles behind our life experience, it’s not problematic any more when we hit rough patches. We understand that it is in our nature to get a fresh start, take a new look, quiet down and think again.

“Have some faith in yourselves and know that somewhere deep inside, beyond your ego, beyond the personal self, lies a beautiful flower waiting to unfold. And it is the light of true knowledge that will make it blossom.”                                Sydney Banks, The Enlightened Gardener Revisited.

 

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