Friday, September 2, 2016
FIVE EMPOWERING IDEAS THAT CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE FOREVER
Words have power – for better or for worse – and ideas have even greater power. An idea that expresses an eternal, metaphysical truth is the most powerful thing in the world. Here are five empowering ideas that have made a huge difference in my own life. They have lifted me out of the depths of despair and helped turn my life around.
1. You are be-ing
Life is be-ingness actualized. Life forever gives of itself to itself so as to create more life in one form or another. Forms constantly change. No form is permanent. Every form will pass away, but the essence of life is formless and eternal. Yes, the life that takes shape in one form or another can never be destroyed. You are life itself--a unique individualization and expression of life. Yes, you are part of life’s self-expression, and life cannot other than be. You are be-ing – and you are also be-coming. You are always in a state of becoming. Change is the essence of both be-ing and be-coming. This means that you are constantly changing, whether for the better or for the worse. Once you fully understand this metaphysical truth, you are ready to take charge of your life.
2. You are consciousness
Each one of us is an inlet and an outlet of consciousness, that is, awareness. Life is consciousness and we are life itself. Listen to these wonderful words of the spiritual teacher Papaji (Sri H W L Poonja): ‘in which all activity takes place. You are eternal Being, unbounded and undivided.’ Because you are be-ing and awareness, you have the powers of thought and observation. There is a time to think and, yes, there is a time to simply observe … choicelessly. Listen to these words of another great spiritual teacher J. Krishnamurti [pictured left]:
'I wonder if you have ever walked along a crowded street, or a lonely road, and just looked at things without thought? There is a state of observation without the interference of thought. Though you are aware of everything about you, and you recognize the person, the mountain, the tree, or the oncoming car, yet the mind is not functioning in the usual pattern of thought. I don't know if this has ever happened to you. Do try it sometime when you are driving or walking. Just look without thought; observe without the reaction which breeds thought. Though you recognize color and form, though you see the stream, the car, the goat, the bus, there is no reaction, but merely negative observation; and that very state of so-called negative observation is action. Such a mind can utilize knowledge in carrying out what it has to do, but it is free of thought in the sense that it is not functioning in terms of reaction. With such a mind, a mind that is attentive without reaction, you can go to the office, and all the rest of it.'
There will always be a time for rational, critical thought, analysis, judgment and interpretation but if you do these things every second of the day, you will end up with analysis paralysis. Learn the art of choiceless awareness. Look. Observe. Be attentive. Be aware. That is what mindfulness is all about.
3. You are what you think
No, I am not contradicting myself. As I have said, we need to think. This is the first verse of The Dhammapada according to one famous English translation: ‘Our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think.’ The same idea is expressed in the Hebrew Bible: ‘Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts’ (Prov 4:23); ‘For as a person thinks in their heart, so are they’ (Prov 23:7).
As we are consciousness, we must watch our thoughts. Are our thoughts positive or negative? Positive thinking has its detractors these days but I have never seen any benefits in negative thinking. Positive thinking is good for the mind and the body. Positive thinking releases life-affirming, healing chemicals into the brain and the body. Negative thinking releases life-destroying, malignant chemicals into the brain and the body. It’s clear which one is better for us. Of course, we must be realistic thinkers. We need to always see things-as-they-really-are. The true positive thinker sees things-as-they-really-are but refuses to be deflected, let alone overwhelmed, by that which is negative. The true positive thinker never dwells on those things.
So, in the words of Plato, ‘Take charge of your thoughts; you can do what you will with them.’
4. You cannot change yourself
Really? Now, you are contradicting yourself, Ellis-Jones! No, I am not. It is simply the case that the ‘I’ of you cannot change the ‘me’ of you. One of my all-time favourite spiritual teachers Alan Watts [pictured right], in his book The Wisdom of Insecurity, has this to say about the wrong way to embark upon self-improvement:
‘I can only think seriously of trying to live up to an ideal, to improve myself, if I am split in two pieces. There must be a good ‘I’ who is going to improve the bad ‘me.’ ‘I,’ who has the best intentions, will go to work on wayward ‘me,’ and the tussle between the two will very much stress the difference between them. Consequently ‘I’ will feel more separate than ever, and so merely increase the lonely and cut-off feelings which make ‘me’ behave so badly.’
The reason the good ‘I’ can’t change the bad ‘I’ is because they are one and the same and they exist only as self-images in our mind. Yes, all the 'I's' and 'me's' in your mind are brought about by thought, and they have no separate, independent reality in and of themselves. They appear to be 'solid,' 'fixed,' and 'permanent,' but they are not. They are, the product of thought which divides itself.
However, you, the person that you are, can change. First, you, the person, must want -- really want -- to change. Secondly, you, the person, must do what is necessary and appropriate for a person in your situation to change. The power to change is within, but it is always a ‘power-not-oneself’. Self has no power. The ‘I’ of you can never change the ‘me’ of you. Never forget that. Never.
5. Acceptance is the answer to all your problems
‘On the acknowledgement of what is there is the cessation of all conflict,’ said J. Krishnamurti. Yes, acceptance -- that is, acknowledging what is -- is the answer to all your problems. Now, I am not saying that we should simply give in. No, not at all. However, before we can change we must first accept the reality of what is. Alcoholics cannot recover from their disease until they first accept that they are alcoholics. There’s more, though. Krishnamurti has stated a metaphysical truth of supreme importance, namely, that once we acknowledge what is, conflict in the form of resistance and the like comes to an immediate end. We must surrender in order to gain victory.
There are many other empowering ideas that can change your life. Many of these I have explored and discussed in other posts over the years -- ideas such as the law of indirectness (don't attempt to put a thought or problem out of your mind directly but rather let the problem slip from the sphere of conscious analysis’), the principle of non-resistance (what you resist, persists), truth is a pathless land (we are always in direct and immediate contact with truth, so there is no separation or distance between us and truth), and truth is a moment-to-moment experience (truth is dynamic, not static).
I love empowering ideas. As Victor Hugo said, ‘Nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come.’
All power to you!