A revolution in our understanding of human well-being, resilience and resolve is gathering pace in business, sport, therapy, prisons, healthcare, psychiatry….
Those of us working in this area witness daily the tremendous transformation when an individual realises that experience is created through thought, that consciousness brings thought alive as if it were real and also allows us to see its illusory nature, that our well-being and resilience is provided for by the intelligence of all life.
Given the enormous impact of this understanding, why – 45 years after Sydney Banks first articulated it – are the people working in this area still a minority?
Why are people still spending hour upon hour in therapy dissecting a past that can only appear or not appear according to the individual’s state of mind?
Why are governments and businesses spending billions of pounds dealing with the consequences of an ‘illness’ that is eliminated with the profound understanding of the nature of stress?
How can there be a smartphone in every pocket and yet there are still billions of people who do not know that they are more than they think?
And it is not simply because the information has not spread far enough. There are people who have insight into the nature of experience, even start working in this area and then disappear back down the rabbit hole of confusion.
Let’s have a look at what is going on.
Most of us have spent our entire lives believing that the world affects how we feel, that stress means take stressful thoughts more seriously, that we need to address problems head on, that anxiety, depression are who we are. This often doesn’t work out so well. It leads to break downs and break ups, chronic stress, dysfunction and all sorts of harmful behaviours to gain release from the mental torture.
And we either stay in this suffering believing it is just how things are. Or we seek out another way.
And then by luck or recommendation or happy coincidence we might come across something called the Inside Out Understanding or Subtractive Psychology or the Three Principles.
And we have an insight – that there is something else more useful. There is something else going on.
With this insight, what we believed before no longer looks so believable. We start to notice how what we think about ourself and the world changes all the time. We take a leap away from what we have known.
And then there can be a moment – which might last a second or a life time – when nothing looks true anymore. Our previous way of seeing the world is no longer trustworthy. Yet this new way seems to have real flaws and inconsistencies.
We are stranded, in mid air, nowhere to go.
How can we land? What will bring us down safely to rock solid ground on which we can build the rest of our lives?
The leap: I really see it is true that some things are experienced through thought
Mid air: But there are a lot of things that have nothing to do with thought.
“I get it. I see all the time how others are reacting to their thinking and how out of those stories they create more aggro and drama for themselves. I even see that my experience of some things in my life changes according to my state of mind (!). But there is loads of other stuff out there – real stuff – money, homelessness, terrorism, work, my awful neighbour… Stuff that should be taken seriously. Stuff that is objectively there, that has nothing to do with thought. How does that work?”
Landing: all of our experience is conveyed through thought. It is just that some of it looks so real to us that it seems objectively, permanently true. As we continue to look at it though it becomes clearer that we have different experiences to others, that our own experience and beliefs about ourself and the world change from moment to moment. And maybe there will be aspects of life that we never see more clearly. Being OK with that and the integrity that brings with it is as much part of this understanding as the freedom in seeing through the rest.
The leap: I get that this understanding gives more freedom and clarity.
Mid air: So why isn’t everyone with this clarity living in a mansion / a cave? The frauds.
“The lives of the people teaching this stuff don’t tally with my view of how someone would live if they saw the spiritual nature of thought. If this understanding really gives you clarity about your infinite creativity then why isn’t everyone in this understanding rich beyond measure? Or if it really gives you clarity that everything is neutral other than what our thoughts project on to it, then why doesn’t everyone give their money to charity and live in a cave? Why does anyone in this understanding get divorced? Why would anyone in this understanding be over weight or drink alcohol? Why are they wearing clothes even? ”
Landing: Because the entire experience of outside world is individual and subjective, there simply cannot be one ‘right way to live’. There is no better or worse. There is no comparative or relative. It is not better to live in a mansion or a cave. It is not better to be married or divorced. It is not better to walk or ride a bike. There is just doing what we do, knowing that our experience and judgment of what we are doing will change continuously. How we live, what we say and do, what we earn, where we live, what we eat, what we wear will always be a function of the relationship between personal thought and insight. Different for all of us all of the time.
The leap: I see that the people in this understanding are remarkably peaceful
Mid air: But it seems I am more emotionally all over the place than ever. What’s wrong with me?
“The reason I started looking at this is because I noticed people becoming much less stressed and I wanted some of that. But now I seem to be experiencing emotions more intensely than ever. I seem to be more angry or fearful or sad. I just want the calm, happy feeling otherwise what’s the point?”
Landing: As we realise that our entire experience is thought-generated, temporary and transient we fear it less. We don’t have to protect ourselves from strong emotions because we know they are part of life. As a result many people find they are on an even more extreme emotional rollercoaster than before. They really feel the emotions because they are now safe to do so. No numbing is required.
The other aspect to this is that our sensitivity rises. As we come more and more into alignment with the loving, peaceful nature at our core, it jars us more when we think, say or do things that are not true to this. What was unnoticeable in a daily life full of conflict, stress, exhaustion and confusion now flashes a bright warning light. Our benchmark has changed. We are in a new reality.
The leap: I started exploring the Inside Out Understanding in order to be more successful
Mid air: But I seem to have even less motivation than before. Thanks a lot!
“I see the truth about the nature of thought and how our ideas about success and what others think of us are simply thought and now all of my old motivation to strive has gone out of the window. I’m eating more because I no longer think I have to look a certain way. I’m doing less at work because I’m not so worried about money and security. Less healthy, poorer, doing less…. That’s not what I signed up for.”
Landing: ha! Yes indeed. Why would we strive? Why would we do anything now because of how it will make us look to other people? Why would we do something that makes no sense for us? Why would we chase success when we see clearly that the definition and attainment of success changes like the wind. This is the moment when we are in limbo. We have seen through the old outside-in illusion that used to drive us on. But we are not yet experiencing the freedom of living from insight, wisdom and inner knowing.
Don’t worry. That is coming. We start to realise that there is literally nothing, not a single reason, why we would not do what makes sense for us to do. We start doing things because we have to (not because we think we should) but because we will burst if that idea, action, triathlon, novel, service, doesn’t come out into the world through us. We are unstoppable. Our motivation is from within and it is though the roof.
The leap: A lot has changed in my life for the better.
Mid air: The specific thing I wanted help with is still a problem though
“There is a lot that I see differently. I have a completely different perspective on my thoughts. I am more peaceful. I am even helping other people in this area. Yet I still haven’t resolved that issue with my husband. Or I still haven’t got my waist to the size I want. I am still drinking too much wine. How can it be when I am so grounded and able to help others and so much of my life is how I want it to be that that aspect of my life isn’t just sorting itself out automatically?”
Landing: The things that look like a problem will only stay a problem as long as they look like they are. The purpose of seeing life more clearly isn’t to get ‘better’ at life (how can it be when ‘better’ is made up). It is simply to see life more clearly. As we see life more clearly we realise there are no problems, there is nothing that has to change, there is simply doing what we know to do. And who knows what will result from that?
The leap: I really see that everything is experienced as an individual thought created reality.
Mid air: And now it looks like everything wrong in my life and in the world is my fault for thinking it. Fuck you Three Principles.
“If my thoughts are making me unhappy or angry or making me feel stuck then it is my fault if I am not happy. All this stuff I don’t want in my life – the cross husband, the anxiety, the kids having issues at school, the money problems, the rubbish job… Somehow, in the way that I am holding all this in my head, I am the cause of all this. I feel worse that ever. At least before I could blame the boss or the rain or the traffic or the bank balance for making me feel so shit. Now it’s just me.”
Landing: We can notice that sometimes we look out on the world and all seems well and sometimes it seems like there are huge problems. We notice that the idea of any fixed reality out there seems less and less true. It seems to be out of our control whether we see good stuff or bad stuff but we know that it is ever-changing. We can see that the same thing happens in what we think of ourself – the self blame is also fluid and so we take that less seriously as well.
We start to experience the high and low feelings, without needing to sort them out or act on them. Things seem lighter somehow. We notice the deeper feeling beneath the highs and lows and we notice the ideas and insights that come to us with this feeling of depth and peacefulness. Blame doesn’t come into it.
The Leap: I see that if I continue looking in this direction, my problems would dissolve.
Mid air: Don’t take my problems away from me, they are all I have
“All my life I have built up a knowledge of who I am. I know my limitations, weaknesses and my faults. I know what I can’t do. My anger. My mistrust. My fear. Who would I be without it? How would I relate to other people if not through my wariness. That armour I have is necessary in a world that can harm me. What would I have to be brave enough to do if I no longer believed my helplessness. If all my reasons for not being out in the world are taken away what would I do? Have I wasted all of my life so far believing something that isn’t true…?”
Landing: An identity seems to give us something solid. Living out of a belief that something is wrong with us can give us a lot of attention and support. Coming into our innate well-being is coming into the truth of who we really are which means the idea of our fixed self dissolves. Importantly, it dissolves at a rate that we can handle. The dissolution is accompanied by the what next. In the realisation that I will no longer live with someone who hits me is the obvious next step of where to go next. In the realisation that fear cannot stop me talking to people is the opportunity to connect. It comes at the pace that is right for us. Not a moment too late or too soon. We just have to be quiet enough to notice it.
The Leap: I get that what I see outside is not reliable information.
Mid air: Can I really trust this wisdom idea?
“I can’t look outside any more for guidance. I see that. But what if this wisdom idea lets me down. What if it is working for the people who seem to have these perfect lives but it doesn’t work for me? What if there is something wrong with me? What if in the crunch moment wisdom just won’t be there.’
Landing: every single time we act on what we know to do it becomes more and more obvious. Each time, we expand a little more, we see a little more, we learn a little more. Michael Neill described the difference between wisdom and insecure thinking as initially being like choosing between two blades of grass, and as we stay looking in this direction, the difference becomes as obvious as between a blade of grass and a lawn mower. In the meantime, whatever we are doing is what we know to do, even if it is as simple or as mind-blowingly complex as breathing in and out.
The leap: I get that this understanding can’t make me more ‘successful’. I get that it won’t stop me feeling sad or scared or angry. I get that I’ll still be confused from time to time.
Mid air: So what’s the point?
Landing: What is this transformation? It’s not a transformation in how our life looks from the outside. That would make no sense at all. (The equivalent of ‘I’m exploring the illusory nature of money in order to become a millionaire’.)
The transformation is in the utter relief of knowing, for the first time since we left childhood, what is going on. It is in the seeing how it all makes sense. It is watching it all fall into place, all the worries and confusion and stress and seeing the innocent misunderstanding behind it all. It is seeing the extraordinary creative magnificence of who we are and relaxing into it as we make a cup of tea or pick the kids up from school.
This is as stable, resolute, clear-minded and connected as we can ever get while walking around in a human body.
This is solid ground.
It is safe to land.