Being a psychotherapist, there is not a day goes by that I don’t sit with people who are anxious, including myself. The thing is, if they could find what would reassure them, they would not be seeing me. In other words, anxiety becomes a problem when nothing reassures; and finding nothing that reassures becomes, itself, a source of anxiety, leaving people caught in a downward vicious cycle.
Enter a deep-enough understanding of the three principles behind all experience to the rescue. These three principles underlying all life are MIND, THOUGHT AND CONSCIOUSNESS. No one can really tell us what these are, but we all know they exist. They are as palpable as is our experience, and the means by which any experience at all is possible.
Thankfully, we don’t need to define these, any more than we need to know how our automobiles work to drive them. I suspect that any definition would miss the boat by limiting them, and I am quite certain that they are limitless, therefore, undefinable. However, understanding that these three principles are the source of our experiences, and not what happens to us, allows us to change our relationship to our experience. Yes, all that we experience comes, not from what happens to us, but from how we are making use of these “divine gifts”, as Syd Banks called them.
What reassurance does this understanding of the three principles provide? The assurance that:
- There is nothing ever fundamentally wrong with us (mind, thought and consciousness), we just think there is, and when we do we get anxious.
- Beyond our frightened, confused, contaminated thinking we all have the potential to think clearly, to tap wisdom – the limitless intelligence of mind.
- Because of this limitless intelligence we are only stumped for the moment, and we can rest assured that in time some new thought, some new perspective will occur to us that will provide the missing link..
- These principles are the creative force behind our moment to moment experience and they explain inclusively and exclusively the role of thought in creating our states of mind, which, again, do not depend on what happens to us, but on what and how we think about what happens to us.
Just as the more mature understanding of parents allows them to remain calm when their young child gets distressed, a sufficient understanding of the three principles allows us, in our roles as parents, teachers, employers, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, lovers, or friends to remain clam-enough even when we find nothing we do or say reassures our loved ones. And our ability to remain sufficiently at ease, reassured, calm, and confident impacts our distressed loved ones so that they start calming down.
Once they have calmed down enough, they are in a better position to come to see for themselves what we are coming to see for ourselves- that behind all life there is innate intelligence, health and the capacity for healing; that at its foundation life is profoundly organized, organizing, creative, intelligent, and evolving; that ultimately, our state of mind and our happiness do not depend on anything outside of us, but come from our thinking.
I would say that I am still as anxious as ever. My anxiety goes all the way back to when I was three, caught in a horrid dilemma – that of awakening in the middle of the night having to pee really badly, but not being able to go to the bathroom because of the monster under my bed that would eat me the moment I moved on the one hand; and on the other hand, the danger of peeing in my bed and having my father eat my head off for doing so. Today among the myriad objects of my anxiety there are:
- getting fired
- getting sued
- getting rejected
- getting cancer
- losing my mind
- losing my health
- ending up homeless
Because I seem to be as anxious as ever you might think that an understanding of the three principles of mind, thought, and consciousness is useless. And I’d agree in terms of this understanding not giving me any more control over my thoughts and feelings (my experience). But I’d disagree because understanding where my experience is coming from (the three principles), and the inclusive and exclusive role of thought in creating my experience, enables me to take my experience with a grain of salt. I do not have to take what I am experiencing so seriously. I am not so frightened by it. As I often say, “But for my thinking I would not be in a panic right now.”
I KNOW that I have nothing REALLY to be afraid of, I just THINK I do. I understand that the threat of these dreaded catastrophes ultimately can’t and doesn’t bar me from being able to be happy and enjoy life – what I call “the delight of existence”. I KNOW that this terror will pass. It always has, it always will. I KNOW that the terror I feel is more akin to the terror I feel in a horror movie or on a roller coaster, and I remember how I actually pay to get terrified.
Ultimately, my understanding of the three principles enables me to have total assurance that my state of mind does not depend on not getting fired, or sued, etc. I can see the potential I have to experience a nice feeling and a good state of mind even when I am fired, or sued, or get cancer, or lose my mind, or end up homeless. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not being glib and imagining that I would not go through hell if these things happened. I am quite sure I would, but I am also positive that I don’t have to stay in hell because of these situations, and I know that hell is made in mind, by mind, through thought and consciousness, not by what happens. If I had no opinion about these “catastrophes”, I’d remain unaffected.
As Syd Banks put it:
“We are all but one thought from heaven…
If we can but find that thought.”
May this brief article face you in the direction of heaven.