“Thought is not reality; yet it is through Thought that our realities are created.” — Sydney Banks
The late Scottish born philosopher Sydney Banks stated: “Someone once said to me, ‘Are you telling me that chair isn’t real, that it’s only thought?’ I said ‘Of course the chair is real. But it comes to you via Thought’.”
Banks went onto discover The Three Principles of Mind which influenced the practice of psychology and psychiatry in the years to follow.
The Three Principles of Mind are:
1. Mind: The universal intelligence behind life which is the source of all.
2. Consciousness: The awareness of life unfolding and what we create.
3. Thought: The ability to create, through thinking.
How does this relate to you?
Stay with me a moment as I unpack this further.
Many people subscribe to the outside-in paradigm whereby circumstances out there are responsible for the way they feel.
And that makes sense.
I don’t disagree because I’ve experienced such moments until I became aware of my thoughts.
The point is, you create your experience of life from inside-out, not the other way around.
American sports psychologist Garret Kramer says: “You’re never feeling your circumstances. You’re always feeling your thinking, which, independent of your circumstances, is constantly in flux. This explains why a circumstance can look troubling one moment and okay the next.”
No one or no event can make you feel what you don’t already believe. I may try to impose my thoughts or reality on you, but if you don’t believe it at the level of thought, you don’t experience it emotionally.
It was the Cuban born essayist Anaïs Nin who said: “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
Your reality is the sum of your past conditioning. It has to be, because no two people share the same view of reality, even twins differ in the way they perceive the world.
This is empowering for several reasons, not least because it confirms we are in control of how we respond to life’s circumstances.
“All feelings derive and become alive, whether negative or positive, from the power of Thought.” — Sydney Banks
Life does not happen to you, but develops through you.
Moreover, life is happening for you.
I know it may not seem that way and I didn’t believe it until I upgraded my perception of reality.
When you allow life to be what it is without attaching a narrative to it, suffering is diminished because you cease to oppose what is.
Consider life being akin to water instead of a rock. Since water is malleable, it will flow around the rock and erode it to find its own level.
By embracing the same attitude, you abandon your storyline of how life should develop in a certain way and allow life to advance in its own way. Your thinking is a mind-made narrative and not the reality you experience.
The Japanese writer Haruki Murakami writes in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
Pain and suffering are important tenets espoused in Buddhism and encapsulated in The Four Noble Truths:
1. The Truth Of Suffering
2. The Truth Of The Cause Of Suffering
3. The Truth Of The End Of Suffering
4. The Truth Of The Path That Frees Us From Suffering
The point worth emphasising is that suffering is a state of mind. This is illustrated in Viktor Frankl’s personal experience as a Holocaust survivor in a German concentration camp.
Frankl writes in Man’s Search For Meaning: “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”
Similarly, the evangelical Christian pastor Charles Swindoll said: “Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitude toward life. The longer I live the more convinced I’ve come to believe that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it.”
The connecting theme lies in our response to events outside of us, not the circumstances themselves.
“Knowing that your feelings come from the inside (your thinking), and not the outside (your circumstances), is what allows your state of mind to self-correct when you are troubled,” affirms Garret Kramer.
“Mind is not brain. Neither is it a thing or a thought. It is a psychic force which acts as a catalyst and turns thought, whatever conscious or unconscious, into the reality you now see.” — Sydney Banks
I often hear my young nephews cry out when their playing together turns sour: “He made me feel this way.” In that instance, I’m reminded how naïve their perception is, albeit given their age.
However, I’ve heard the same conversations in adults who subscribe to the same thinking. Curiously, these same people endure intense pain and suffering, since they concede other people or life’s circumstances are the cause of their suffering.
They are not wrong, nor are they right. They are simply unaware of the inside-out paradigm and respond to life based on their level of awareness.
Can you see how misleading and painful this line of thinking can be?
No one outside of you is responsible for the way you think and feel, if you don’t already act that way for the most part.
They may try to impose their beliefs on you and succeed because you already subscribe to those beliefs and so they become active in you.
You also needn’t follow the Buddhist Eightfold Path to overcome suffering, but just realise you live in the feeling of your thoughts.
When you become aware and awake to your thoughts, you are less attached to the meaning they carry.
You become an outsider looking in on your thoughts. You are the witnesser and observer, rather than the person whose thoughts are being imposed upon them.
Originally published at medium.com