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Posts Tagged “psychobiospiritual”

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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Ask the deeper questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Should We Look Before the Fact?

It happens to all of us. We think we’re just about to find what we’re looking for, and instead, Poof!, it eludes us again. It’s hard for all of us to give up the direction we’ve picked to look a different way.  I thought of this last week when I was sure the keys to my car were somewhere in the house. It passed through my mind that maybe they were in the car in the garage, but I didn’t even look there because I was so sure I was on the right track searching in the house, searching the same places again and again, ever more determined.

Researchers keep looking for proof of the usefulness of altering brain chemistry with medications as a cure for depression; researchers perpetuate the idea that we just haven’t yet found the perfect drug. It has been estimated that 50% of people on medication for depression do not benefit from that medication. Discussion of the puzzling efficacy of the Placebo effect has persisted since a respected study showed that administering Placebo to depressed patients produced entirely different brain responses than those produced by drugs, yet an unexpected 38% of the Placebo participants improved. In a recent discussion of the subject, Dr. Joseph Coyle, a professor of neuroscience at Harvard Medical School, called the attribution of depression strictly to chemical imbalance “an outmoded way of thinking.” Yet it persists.

Maybe the keys are just not in the house?

Clarity is elusive.  We have become adept at studying brain activity and brain chemistry after the fact, but we have not found the key to what is before the fact. We have no scientific explanation of what generates emotional upset and creates the  chemical imbalance for which we seek a cure.

What answers do we have? (1) The brain is plastic and subject to inexplicable changes in chemistry and activity. (2) People respond variably to external input; it is impossible to determine a clear-cut cause and effect response to outside-in stimuli. (3) We do not have a universal explanation for brain changes.

What questions might we ask? (1) Are we looking in the right direction, given that the after-the-fact studies have led to increasing confusion? (2) If brain activity is constantly variable, should we be investigating healthy variability, rather than seeking artificial stability? (3) If we discovered the impetus for that variability, would it be easier to understand why the outcomes are so unpredictable?

Those are questions that teeter on the edge of the perceived boundary between science and spirituality. Yet, increasingly, science acknowledges that the study of human psychology involves spirituality as well. While it would be unfair to characterize the study of spirituality in psychology as “mainstream” or “hard science,” it would also be unfair to suggest that spirituality is not easing into the conversation and being taken to heart, especially in mind-body medicine. Increasingly, speculation appears in studies suggesting there may be “innate” processes not yet well understood,  or that there are dimensions of human resiliency beyond the reach of current science. Are they edging towards a different place to search?

The missing idea is that our emotional states could be created from the inside-out, not the outside-in. How people respond depends on their use of thought and on their state of mind, regardless of outside stimuli. The flow from formless energy to form is internally constant; the variable is the infinite variety of what is created. The ups and downs of experience make sense because experience is after the fact, an artifact of our infinite imaginations. Forming the thought, imagining form out of the formless,  is before the fact.

Everything puzzling and confusing about our current pursuit of understanding falls into place when we see it from the inside-out perspective. We use the formless energy of life to create thoughts. We are aware of our thoughts and experience them as real. Depending on our degree of awareness of our own psychological strength, we see more or less clearly that experience is coming through us, not at us. When it’s obvious to us that we are the thinkers of our own thoughts and the creators of our experience, we are buffered from ill effects. We can move through bouts of negativity and the ups and downs we feel, understanding that they are illusionary and temporary, that all our experiences come and go as our thinking changes.

This understanding would render chemical intervention superfluous over time. Such intervention might be helpful to quiet the mind sufficiently to be able to look and see and recognize the inner logic. But it would not be a long-term requirement because we would realize that it is within us to find and create real peace naturally.

I often feel like I am watching two trains racing towards a common destination from opposite directions. The science train racing from outside-in is moving towards an unexplored new place. The spiritual train racing from inside-out is moving towards a meeting point where it will surprise those who have not yet seen it and didn’t know it was coming. The journey offers promise of joyous meeting because the intent of both is simply to keep moving towards the deeply desired destination of peace of mind.

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