The point of this series of posts is to do a step-by-step through how reality works. I realize that when I ask for people to accept seemingly obvious –or even strange– things, that it can start to feel overly abstract.
That’s partly intentional, because otherwise it’s too easy for people to do what they primarily already do, which is to only perceive it all in a linear, intellectual sense. But when we this reality comes alive for us, everything changes.
It’s like going from calling three guys your ‘uncles’ to suddenly realizing these guys are your Mom’s brothers. Nothing’s changed, but for the kid everything’s changed.
These are whole new people to the kid’s ego, when in the underlying reality everything was as it always was. The only thing that did change was the kid’s thoughts about those three men and his mother. Hence, reality is made from thought.
To help make the abstract more concrete, I’ll provide an example below. If the guy with the ‘problem’ acted as suggested, he would never have suffered because his spirit would always stay conscious of the fact that his point is to keep going, not to achieve his expectations.
Last post, I gave you a description of reality. Today’s is an example of it:
“You said my problems were only thoughts.”
“That sounds like me.”
“Well this isn’t a thought: If I don’t get this report nailed, my boss is going to fire me. How can you say that problem is in my head?”
“That’s not a problem. That’s a situation with a test included. Because the stakes are high, it is exciting, but that’s still not a problem.”
“Exciting? How can you say that’s not a problem that I could lose my job?”
“You’re telling me you’re not interested to see how this turns out? I know I am. That feels exciting. As for it not being a problem –you have no power to change the situation, so there’s no problem there. You’re simply in a situation.
“You not liking that fact is a rejecting thought of yours but that’s voluntary –and not particularly helpful. And on the other point of the test; you can either do the report or you can’t. So that’s just a test of your skills that you’re suffering over because you’re trying to reject the reality of doing the test.”
“Of course I am. What if I get fired?!”
“In terms of excitement that would be like losing in overtime in the big game. That would feel bad. I would feel badly for you. But after that bit of grieving –which is also part of the human experience– you could then move forward with the knowledge that your skills were below expectations and that you’d need a new job.”
“That would be terrible!”
“Maybe, maybe not.”
“Maybe not? I would suck and I would be out of work!”
“I get; tumultuous. You being disoriented by the experience makes sense. But ‘sucking’ is a judgment and a judgment is a thought, and since I don’t share that thought about you, ‘you sucking’ is just a thought you have about yourself, that is not something the rest of the world thinks.
“Okay? So that’s not a problem, that’s just something you painfully choose to think. As for being out of work; why would that be terrible? And again, it’s a state, not a problem.”
“How can you keep saying losing your job isn’t a problem?!? What about bills?”
“I didn’t say it wouldn’t be dramatic, or sting for a bit, or be difficult. Life includes consequences. It can feel humbling to learn we need better skills. But even that level of embarrassment is mostly the byproduct of our attachment to the approval of others –otherwise it wouldn’t sting at all.
“I’ll live with that sting, because that feeling’s also linked to empathy and shame, and those link to cooperative and healthy relationships. I wouldn’t treat people as well if I didn’t care at all what they think. But…
“As for the humbling part, that’s really just information. My distaste for what it says about me competitively is my incitement to work hard to prove myself to myself. If I didn’t put in my best it would leave me feeling like I wasn’t adding my fair share to the team.
“I can easily be grateful to learn these things. That’s is the kind of feedback someone can build off of. There’s no problems in any of that. Just situations, information, and pointers for the future.”
“So I have no problems? Just a situation, that offers information to help me guide my future? So I just feel the sting–”
“–pain is not a problem, it’s pain. Our desire for the pain to go away —that’s a problem.”
“Okay, so I feel the sting. Then I ‘up’ my game. BUT I STILL DON’T HAVE A JOB!”
“It doesn’t sound like the last one had you very invested anyway, and as far as I recall you strictly complained about it, so this is also a chance to find something that suits you better.
“Why would you focus your attention on the few things you liked about your old job, that you disliked? And why would you assume the next job had to be equal to, or down from, this one? For all you know you’ll end up way better off and this whole thing will have been the boss doing you a secret time-delayed favour.”
“I didn’t totally suck.”
“You haven’t even done the report yet.”
“But I already feel like it’s not going to be good enough.”
“That is not where you start a good report from. Would your boss have given it to you if she didn’t feel you were capable of it? It is just a report. And feelings come from thinking. If you think you’re going to fail and you think failing sucks, then don’t be surprised that you feel sucky when your consciousness is being used to beg for the chemistry for sucky feelings.”
“I thought you made stuff like this easier.”
“This is easier. You want to be in pain, and distract yourself with narcissistic suffering when you should be focused on the report –on your role and duties in the team. Not doing that lowers your odds of success and increases the odds of your sucky fantasy coming true.
“Then that’s not about how good you were, because you never did focus. That would be the Law of Attraction. You would have seen failure as your future and then worried your way into ensuring it happened.”
“How is yours easier though?”
“Because if you can accept this is all just thought in a truly profound way –not that I’m expecting that to happen this moment– but if and when you did truly grasp that our lives are made from thought, then you would be able to stop thinking your fearful thoughts.
“You would instead invest your energies on studying up on what would make a great version of the report and then work to deliver it. That’s all focused work. You can be enlightened –where you don’t even notice time passing– if you get into the right mindset for that.”
“So you’re saying I can either whine or work?”
“I believe that’s a fair shorthand, yes indeedy.”
“And whining is thinking, but working is… what?”
“The original word the Hebrews used for God was Yahweh, which apparently means ‘is-be.’ That makes your work into the thing your spirit would be being-doing.”
“And that’s a state of no thinking?”
“And while I’m doing that I’m close to God?”
“Maybe even ‘part of’ God. You’re enlightened, so you’re flowing like a tentacle of Godliness with no personal sense of a self, just a sense of action in the universe without separation from the universe. You know the feeling:
“You’re working away, and suddenly you look up and it’s hours later, your hand’s resting in the ketchup container next to your plate, next to your computer. You’ve missed a meal, the room’s cold, and you’ve noticed no temperature, no ketchup, or feelings of hunger during that time, because there wasn’t a ‘you,’ there was only what was happening.”
“That makes doing a report sound pretty lofty.”
“It’s still numbers and words. But I would suggest that way of doing it is what produces the most creative and successful reports.”
“So I just stop thinking and go work now?”
“Mmmhmm. Do you feel weird just stopping here and stepping away from your ego and its drama? To go back to work?”
“I do a little bit. Yes.”
“That’s normal at first. You get used to it the more you make that switch from ego to your wiser, less fearful perspective.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Keep it all in mind.”
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own over-thinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.