For the past week or so I’ve been having nightmares. Vivid, exciting ones, shortly before I wake up so I have remembered them. This morning when I awoke from my virtual reality show involving snakes, a menacing family and being driven at speed on the bonnet of a car, I moved into the waking world with a lovely sense of relief.
Then it occurred to me that the same thing happens in the waking world when someone has an insight about where their experience is coming from. There is a massive sense of relief when we stop thinking and feeling about a thing in a way that causes emotional distress. True, in the waking world, there are circumstances, people, places and things, whereas in a dream those too are made up by the power of Thought, in the form of imagination.
What is identical in both the dream world and the conscious state is that feelings about people, places and things are created from within by the power of Thought. Which is why feelings change from time to time, even if the external circumstance doesn’t. Perhaps you too have noticed that sometimes you become irritated by something on one occasion which doesn’t bother you on another. Or perhaps someone close to you reacts differently to your behaviour at different times. On its own a situation has no power to evoke a feeling in anyone. For that to happen the person has to have some Thought running – opinions, judgements, fears, concepts – to create their feelings. And just like waking from a nightmare, when someone wakes up to a new awareness of how they are innocently creating discomfort for themselves, relief floods in.
Yesterday I was having a conversation with someone in a lot of distress. She honestly and sincerely believed that she was at the mercy of many situations which were beyond her control. It became clear that she had a deep conviction [which is just another thought] that unless these circumstances changed she could not be happy. My job is to try to gently point out the true cause and effect: that it is always Thought which is responsible for feelings. I do this by finding examples in the person’s own life where the circumstances were identical, but the feelings were different. Or how other people respond differently to the same stimulus.
The 3 Principles are not a theory or a technique. They are a description of the fundamental elements of how human experience is created in every single moment for every single person. Unless a person has Thought about a situation, they will not have an experience of it. However they have been articulated at a time when many people are mistaken about the causes of distress. And because they challenge the status quo, they are often dismissed without investigation. They are just as much a new and true discovery as was Galileo’s discovery of a sun centred solar system. And they are just as resisted. Which in my book, is a shame. Because knowing that your distress will shift anyway, as thought flows through, when you understand its true nature, is a lot more comforting than feeling you would need to change dozens of externals before peace could begin to emerge.
If you are in distress and anything in this piece resonates with you, please do give me a call or email.