As I developed, I noticed it wasn't just emotions that were unstable, sometimes mercurial, and often irrational. I started to understand and experience the range of thought systems around me, and the amazing certainty adults had about particular ideas.
Why do people believe their thoughts or feelings? Or perhaps a better question – why do they take so seriously their thoughts or feelings?
When we are believing thoughts or are strung by feelings, we are not experiencing life as it is, the state of Endless Openness. We fall into grace when we let go of the pull of the mind and become what the author Adyashanti calls “emptiness dancing”.
It is not that thoughts or feelings are not valid – they are always valid. Yet when we take them as reality, that is when we suffer.
This preoccupation with forms as we experience them has the potential to spiral into an abyss of our creation.
The moment a thought comes into our mind, it limits our experience and takes us out of the opportunity of being in the present moment, true reality.
We tend to see our patterns as stuck in concrete, unchangeable realities, when in fact any pattern can be changed or at least adjusted. The personality is not set in stone.
Adyashanti points out that,“When we believe what we think, when we take our thinking to be reality, we will suffer.”
According to this concept, we are suffering simply by believing our thoughts to be real. I would qualify that with it depends on the quality of our thoughts and whether it is appropriate to keep repeating the same ones. Some thoughts can actually create peace. The core takeaway idea is that thoughts are not real. Thoughts are not unchangeable. Thoughts are only signposts to show us patterns in our personality and non-acceptance of past experiences. A similar argument can be made and understanding reached about our feelings, because thoughts and feelings are intertwined.
What about the quality of our thoughts?
Underlying our unwholesome thoughts, is the feeling of not being whole – not being part of the whole creation. Deep within the recesses of our subconsciousness, the seed of unworthiness has been planted by traditional religions.
Much angst is caused by disconnection – disconnection to others, disconnection to ourselves and our intrinsic nature and, linked to all of these, disconnection to life itself, or God nature. It is we who have created a primitive version of God nature that is dark, jealous and vengeful. God is not dark – it is we who have judged ourselves – it is we who have collected shame and guilt through judging our nature and our behaviour as unworthy or unforgivable.
Poet Rainer Maria Rilke famously wrote: “Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”
We are here to be, not to do – we are here in love.
Because our social conditioning has brainwashed us into believing that “doing” is more important than “being” and more than that, that “being” is a character flaw, we are struggling with the pressure to “do” more. The basic void is in our self identity as not being good enough, not being worthy enough. We start from this feeling of lack, a deficit in perception. We are feeling we are not and have not achieved enough.
The source of these trends comes from the over-dominance of the left-hemisphere of our brain versus the right. A left brain functioning society views feeling and being in our bodies as “lesser” than manifesting or achieving some goal.
By such thinking, the perfection of imperfection and the wholeness of being alive is diminished.
Would a loving God frown on us for being less than who we are for not having achieved some social status or monetary goal?
It is how we are perceiving ourselves that is at fault – and the whole capitalist marketing system that is based on creating demand. It is a simple strategy to send the message – 'you are not enough' – and hence need a branded product to feel OK.
Outside of consumerism, where would we be as a society?
If we refine our idea of joy and fulfilment, it leads us down the path of consuming less and residing in more spaciousness, increasing the room we allow for silence. If achievement defines our self identity and meaning defines our goals, through a spiritual “sadhana” practice, we can shift our identity into something more pure, refined and long-lasting.
Then we can move within life with the wisdom of humility and the courage of love, from a full space. It is the empty space that feeds unhealthy behaviours.
It takes mental agility to reframe our self view and a willingness to morph our view that the personality is unadaptable. It takes a new way of seeing things, to remove the barriers and step forward into a new sense of self.
Nisargadatta Maharaj offers a spiritual guideline of what life may look like on the other side of ego:
"Wisdom is knowing I am nothing,
Love is knowing I am everything,
and between the two my life moves."
The key guideline is to simplify one's sense of self, be open to change the understanding of what we considered our intractable “personality” - and not take too seriously any particular thought or feeling – to welcome in the fresh pastures of love for ourselves and compassion for others. As one invites in new possibility and the potential for changing personality traits and habits, one enters the field of endless openness.
Growing up in apartheid South Africa, David had an early initiation into a dysfunctional society. It influenced his thinking and search for peaceful and spiritual solutions. A passion for healing followed a severe childhood illness and a medical approach he found lacking gentleness and compassion. David later studied theology in war-torn Jerusalem for 3 years, before gaining a degree in health science in Australia (Naturopathy). He now lives in Port Douglas and works as a soul coach and hands-on-healer offering spiritual counselling and guidance in finding peace.
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