Practical Metaphysics by Eric Butterworth
Lecture 3 — Thinking
"You are a thinking center within Divine Mind"
- 031 - Experiences do not cause thoughts. Life is not a continuous reaction to what happens outside us. What happens in our mind happens as a result of our attitudes. Our mind is our domain.
- 032 - The very first step in the art of thinking is to know that we always have a choice. We can become the master instead of the slave. We can be a creative thinker instead of a reflex thinker.
- 033 - You are a thinking center within Divine mind. Divine mind is our milieu. We are not separate from divine mind. There is only one basic intelligence.
- 035 - Taking responsibility for thought changes our life. But we must know that our thoughts are the cause of the problems in our life.
- 036 - Positive thinking is not just a programmed mind. We are not "what we think," rather we are "thinking what we think." "The you that thinks what you think is more than the thoughts you're thinking."
- 037 - Positive thinking is being attuned to your potential. We do not need to program truth into our conscious mind, but to wake up the consciousness to what already knows truth.
- 038 - Working with mind from within vs. working with mind from without. It is not about "filling up" the mind, but "waking up" the mind.
- 039 - "Horizontal thought" vs."Vertical thought." The vertical thinker sees things around him and then thinks the thoughts that he wants to see manifested in his life.
- 040 - The positive person is not the person who never has a negative thought, even Jesus had negative thoughts, symbolized by Satan or the devil. But Jesus "dis-identified" from the negative thought pattern and said "get behind me, Satan."
- 041 - We can say no to negative thoughts by not allowing it to "take possession" of us or to "dis-identify" from it. Not "I've caught a sneeze," but "I've caught a cleansing."
- 042 - Discipline is the capacity to make yourself mind you. We are all disciplined creatures. We groom ourselves in a mirror before going out into the world, and we must also groom our state of mind as well.
- 043 - It is more important to prepare ourselves mentally for the day than physically.
- 044 - Homework assignment for lecture three. Robert Frost writes, "First thing I do in the morning is make up my bed, then I make up my mind." This was the key to his optimism. Identify ourselves with infinite divine mind each day.
031 Incidents do not cause thoughts
The study of metaphysics gives us a new sense of perspective by which to deal with the world. In a very real sense introduces us to a new dimension of reality. The fact is that when we get into the study of metaphysics humanly there's a tendency to get on our charger like Don Quixote, and go out and try to change the world. But one of the fundamentals that often is overlooked is that metaphysics does not deal with changing the world. The whole principle is based upon ourselves. It is not the world that we're concerned about, but our thought about the world.
The important key to effective living then is not trying to find the way to set things right, and to straighten people out, and to get the world to stop acting like it does. Not to set things right, but to see them rightly. Right seeing is the fundamental essence of truth. Metaphysics is a technique in right seeing. Helping you to see things from a particular perspective. As Emerson would say, from the highest possible point of view. All this is wrapped up in what we're calling today the art of thinking.
It seems to me that the greatest neglect in education today ... And it's not my intent to nitpick about the educators because certainly people in this profession are doing a tremendous work helping people in a tremendous way, but I think there has been a neglect that has set in to modern education. It's very subtle, and thus, we think we're pointing at one particular movement we'll say that the same problem isn't found in the study of metaphysics and other kind of education. It's a failure in the instruction in the art of thinking. In other words, the whole thought process is so often simply taken for granted. We're thinking creatures, and so we think, and we're told what to think. We're exposed to all sorts of levels of learning. We're supposed to think about them, and to memorize them, and to report them back much as we've heard them. It is rare in education that we're introduced to the process of how to think.
The mind is dealt with, for the most part, as a fact collector and a word dispenser, and this is so true in the study of metaphysics. That we're told that we're thinking creatures, we're mental beings, and therefore the important thing is you must think this, you must think that, you must think the other, so we're constantly building in and programming our mind with affirmations, and techniques, and treatments, and so forth. Learning to verbally repeat them and picture them in the words that we express.
Thought, for the average person, is a reflex process. In other words, things happen and react in thought. We become worried. We become fearful. We become concerned and anxious, or on the other hand, we become happy and inspired. We assume, and this assumption is almost universally prevalent among people. We assume that the thoughts that we think are produced by the circumstances that we experience, and that mind is something we hold within in our skull by which we can deal with the world out there. Thing happen, and we react, we think, and we say, "Well, of course I'm upset. You'd be upset too if you had the same experiences."
Life is a continuous reaction to outside stimuli to the average person. So one may be happy, or sad, or life has meaning or is meaningless by evidence of what happens to us from day to day. We may even sometimes check the weather, or consult the stock market returns, even go to a doctor to see how we feel. Ask the average person, "How do you feel today?" "I don't know. I have to wait until I get down to the office to see what kind of a mood the boss is in then I'll know how I feel." But experiences do not cause thoughts. Emphasize. Experiences do not cause thoughts.
Someone may do something to you, and he may give you a perfect opportunity to be upset if you want to be upset, but if you don't want to be upset you needn't be upset, you see. The incident happens. There no use denying it. It's not saying that he didn't say it, or it didn't happen, or they're not doing these things in the world. They've happened, and it becomes history once it's happened, but as far as your experience is concerned the incident is completely external. It's always on the outside. What happens in your mind happens as a result of your attitudes, and your feelings, and your habit patterns. Your mind is your domain.
Now, this is fundamental, and these words are easy to express, but it's so important to get this into our consciousness. You think what you want to think or you think what you have habitually thought by a certain tendency of habit patterns. Your thoughts are your reactions to the incident, always. The incident did not make the thought. It is your mind, and you have been thinking and reacting in thought according to the level of your consciousness.
I was talking to a young chap in a hotel one day. He was one of the hotel clerks. There was a lot people coming in for a convention, and they were harassed, and people were there early, and other people were staying late, and the usual thing that happens in hotels. One of them was saying, "Boy, I sure have problems tonight," and one could feel sorry for him. I talked to one of the other clerks a little later and he had an entirely different thought. He said, "People sure have problems tonight." Both of them dealing with the same experience. One of them dealing with what I call horizontal thought. The other dealing with vertical thought. I have problems. People have problems. But I have problems because of the way I'm reacting to people problems, but if I keep myself in perfect peace then I'm simply concerned that people have problems but they're on the outside. Then I can handle them. Then I can deal with them.
When was the last time you said, "He makes me so mad," or, "That just tees me off"? Of course, this is not correct at all. No one ever makes you mad. No one ever gets you upset. As I say often, you are upset because you're upsetable. You're angry because you have a anger consciousness that is touched like a little red button that causes it to blowup within yourself, but the anger is already within, you see, so you react in thinking according to the level of your attitudes according to your consciousness. The thing that happens then is we allow our mental mastery to go by default. Some of us are completely unaware of the fact that we have the power to control the kind of thoughts that run rampant in our minds.
That's the thing that's fundamental in this study of truth. You realize that is your mind. Therefore you have to ask yourself the question from time to time. When you find yourself terribly upset, or concerned, or anxious, or worried about something that's happened, take a good look at yourself and ask yourself this one question. Not, "Why did they do this? Why is the world falling apart? Why do we have so many problems in life," but, "Why do I allow people, or experiences, or things to determine how I'm going think, or feel, or act? This I can do something about."
In the same way we tend to succumb to race beliefs, to group psychology, to sublingual suggestion, we're susceptible to the programming of mass media that is designed especially to control and influence thought simply because we've allowed ourselves to react. This is why mass media's so successful. Because of this patterns of reactive thinking we are led into a life that is not really our own at all. We don't live our lives. We live lives that are conditioned by outside stimuli, but that's because we refuse to accept our responsibility for our own thoughts.
032 You always have a choice
The very first step in this process that we're calling the art of thinking, is to know that no matter what happens in your world, no matter what happens out there, no matter what you read in the papers, no matter what is taking place around you or to you, you always have a choice. You always have a choice. You don't have to be angry. You don't have to be unhappy. You don't have to be worried. You don't have to be fearful. You can choose to think positively or creatively if that's the way you want. You can become the master instead of the slave. Oh, it's not easy. Now, let's not kid ourselves. It's not easy to take possession of our mind. To change from being a reflex thinker to a creative thinker it takes a lot of discipline, and will, and commitment because we've been thinking in the other way so long, but we can do so.
It's not easy to think happiness when you're unhappy because you're unhappiness is busy manufacturing more unhappy thoughts. Tagore comments on this. He says, "The slave is busy making whips for his master." We're busy manufacturing negative thoughts to fill the negative state of consciousness, and it goes round and round. It's a vicious cycle. In a very real sense it could be said if someone asks you what your occupation is, if you want to be realistic about it you can say, "I'm a manufacturer." Because I'm always manufacturing the kind of things that happen in my life according to my consciousness. You see, we do this unthinkingly.
In fact, there was a woman who ... There's the classic story of the woman who was sitting, commiserating over a lot of her problems, and she had a lot of problems. She was talking about them. Almost counting them one by one like rosary beads. One of her friends tried to console her. He said, "Oh, come on now. Things are not that bad. After all, you should try to be positive." She said classically, "I don't see it that way. It seems to me when the Lord sends me tribulations it's my duty to tribulate."
Some people seem to feel that you should be unhappy, that you should be negative. If you walk into an office someday smiling, and singing, and whistling, people say, "What do you have to be so happy about?" But as I say so often, you don't have to have anything to be happy about ever. You can be happy simply because you want to be happy. Abraham Lincoln once said, "A man is about as happy as he makes up his mind to be." This is the key to the positive life. This is the key to positive thinking. It's not filling your mind with a lot of happy platitudes, but it's simply determining that you have control and you can think the kind of thoughts that you want to think. Making the commitment at the beginning of the day and regulate through the day that you're not going to allow people, or conditions, or circumstances to decide how you're going to think or feel.
Just watch the average person read the newspaper. Watch him on a subway sometime. Sometimes you wonder what you're going to do to preoccupy your thoughts on these long subway rides. Be analytical. Watch somebody reading the paper. They read a few of the lines, and they go (clicking), "Oh, terrible." (clicking) There are a lot of things to tut-tut about actually because the ... Newspapers like The New York Post have really made tremendous hay on the process that people like to tut-tut. The point is that person is simply showing up in consciousness the fact he full believes that it's a terrible world, that everything's going to pot, and so he reads all the things that says, "See, I told you, I told you, I told you." He's upset because he's upsetable. He's upsetable before he reads the paper. Now, if he wants to make any changes, either changes in the world or changes in himself he has to begin to ask himself some serious questions.
Why do I allow The New York Post, or The New York Times, or The Daily News ... Let's cover all the waterfronts so we won't be impartial. Why do we allow these things, these outside stimuli to determine how I think? Why do we allow listening to the radio or the television to get me upset. Do I want to be upset? "But you've got to be realistic," a person will say, "After all things are in the world, and what are you going to do about them?" The fact is you always have a choice. You always have a choice. You can say, as the hotel clerks did, one of them said, "I have terrible problems," and the other one says, "People have terrible problems." In the one case the person is totally destroyed by the problems of people, and the other case the person is there ready to help if he needs to help, but he keeps himself oblivious from it. He's objective, and thus he can serve without being destroyed within himself, and this is a very important realization.
I say this to a person who wants to be a good, positive, true student, don't stop reading the paper, certainly. Don't stop listening to the news unless you find that you do not have, as of yet, the developed capacity to keep the news on the outside. If you don't then you better not read the news for a while until you keep yourself in perfect peace and develop the capacity to control your own thoughts. Then you can read the news, and listen to the news, and see what's going on in the world saying that, "The world has problems today," but not, "I have problems." "The world has problems." Then suddenly you're in a state of consciousness where you can be a creative asset to the world, but at least you're not going to be destroyed by it.
033 You are a thinking center within Divine mind
The great need is for a discovery of one's self as a thinking center within the infinite mind of God. Divine mind essentially is your milieu. This is important. You're in it, all of it, all the time. It is impossible that you should ever have a mind apart from divine mind. All you have is a consciousness within divine mind. Your mind is not separate from mine. Quite often people say, "Well, I'm praying so that I can get into divine mind." There's no way what you can ever get into diving mind because there's no way you can ever get out of it. You're a thinking center with divine mind, you see. You're a consciousness within it. But you see, the intelligence that is in back of all thought is the intelligence that runs the universe. The intelligence that is back of all thought. Right away you say, "Now, wait a minute. What about negative thoughts?" There's one intelligence.
I use this illustration in my book, Unity of All Life, as some of you have probably read. We direct this intelligence into the moods of our consciousness. Into the molds of human awareness. Like the limitless air that we force into balloons of various sizes and shapes. It's the same air, but through our selection we fill any size and shape that we wish.
034 Distorted thought manifests distortion
In the same way, we can permit the creativity of the universe to flow into a mold of twisted and distorted thought, and by the same law that would manifest perfection in accord with a perfect mental mold it will manifest distortion in accordance with our distorted mental state.
Now, this is a very important realization. You see, there's only one basic intelligence. We distort it and pervert it according to where we are in consciousness, and because we're creatures of habit we tend to habitually blow air into certain balloons simply because that's what we've always done. We have certain tendencies to think of ourselves as being too old, or perhaps too young. We think of ourselves in certain habit patterns of sickness, of poverty, of war, and all the various things that beset human consciousness. All of these are the habit patterns of human mind. Quite often we think of it in terms of bad luck, and it's so important to understand that what we call bad luck is simply a bad mental habit. The bad mental habit.
People often say, "Well, things like that always happen to me. What are you going to do?" Well, you can always do something. You might not be able to immediately change the conditions, but you can change what you do about them, how you react to them, what you think about them. You can always be creative. You can always be positive regardless of conditions. In other words, tune yourself into an entirely different dimension.
It's a good thing, I think, to occasionally take inventory in our lives and to look for the kind of situations that tend to repeat themselves. Problems that repetitiously keep manifesting in our work, in our finances, in our health, in our relationships. A person who keeps catching colds, or a person who keeps coming against financial difficulties, or there's a constant process of unemployments. "Every time there's a problem in the office I'm the first one to be laid off," and so forth. We may object to this. We may argue about it. We may say it's the result of conditions, it's a result of favoritism, and all these terrible things that are going on in the world, but it's so important to begin to realize bad luck or continuity of bad experiences is a result of bad mental habits, bad mental thought patterns. You always have a choice. You always have a choice.
You may not be able to change the things in the office. You may be not be able to change the things in the world, but you can change the way you deal with them, which makes all the difference in the world. If you don't believe this take a look at this simple illustration of the sailing boat. Remember that poem of Ella Wheeler Wilcox when she says, "Some ships drive east, and some drive west by the self-same winds that blow. Tis the set of the sails and not the gales that determine the way they go." So a ship then can move eastward and westward by setting the sails, and regardless it's the one wind, so it is in your experience. Regardless of what happens by the changing the way you deal with it, by the attitudes you hold toward it, you can change the whole experience as far you're concerned. Change all the way from the fact that I have terrible problems to the fact that the world has problems, but I have control of myself.
035 Taking responsibility for thought changes your life
So important then to know that if you refuse to accept the responsibility for your thoughts, or as someone would say to own your own thoughts, and you insist that these things, and conditions, and your thoughts about them are caused by the things out here in the world, then there's little you can do about changing them. If you're unwilling to accept responsibility for your thoughts then that's way life is, and what are you going to do? You have no choice. You've heard that, but if you take responsibility for your thoughts, if you always recognize that whatever happens in your mind is a result of your consciousness, nobody made it happen ... If you're upset it's because you were upsetable. If you're disturb and anxious it's because of a level of your awareness. Not the conditions. Not the things. If you take responsibility for them, and admit that your states of consciousness within your own mind then and then only are you in a position to fulfill that realization that we suggest every day on the radio. You can change your life by altering your thoughts.
You can change your life by altering your thoughts if you know that your thoughts are the problem in your life. Not people. Not situations, you see. This is something that requires a great change of the whole general perspective by which we view life. Because I know that most of us tend to be very defensive. We tend to be very reactive. We tend to try to point the finger of responsibility to all sorts of folks. Most of us have a little bit of paranoia within us. We feel that people are always picking on us, the world is always against us. "Things are always going wrong for me, and it's terrible, isn't it?" But important is the realization that I have the capacity to decide how I'm going to think. I can't change people. I can't change the world, but I change what I think about them, and then through all intent and purposes I can change my life by altering my thoughts.
036 Positive thinking is not just a programmed mind
There's a very subtle point that is rarely observed in metaphysics. You've heard this statement. You've read articles about it, and there are whole books about it. "You are what you think." Right? You are what you think, and I say that is totally inaccurate. You are not what you think. Now, that seems to be a matter of paradox because here we are talking metaphysics, and this is a general axiom in metaphysical studies, you are what you think. I say it's totally inaccurate. You are not what you think. You are thinking what you think.
Now, this is not splitting hairs. This is a very important distinction. You are not what you think. You are thinking what you think. Because the you that thinks what you think is more than the thoughts you're thinking. The thoughts are in your mind, and you have the power to control your mind. If I am what I think then my thoughts are me, and if my thoughts are negative then I'm negative, and what am I going to do about it? That's just the way it is. I'm just a negative person. I was born that way. My parents have been that way. That's the way I grew up, you see. But I am not what I think. I think what I think, and I have the capacity to think what I want to think if I decide that I have that capacity and begin to exercise that prerogative.
You are not just a mind that thinks. You are a unique and wonderful identity with an infinite mind, and you have the power to think what you want to think, and to react as you train yourself to react. Now, this is very important. It's not a simple thing. We're expressing it in a very simple way, but it's a very fundamental truth that is important. You see, what we call positive thinking ... This has been a very popular term. Everybody knows about positive thinking. Starting, of course, Norman Vincent Peale, and probably starting long before that. The idea that if you think certain positive things you're going to have certain positive conditions in your life. It's a wonderful thing, and it's changed a great deal of the general thoughts and feelings of people in the world. I'm sure it's had a great influence, but let me say this, positive thinking is not sitting around holding thoughts, filling the mind with platitudes and self-motivating images. It's not what is normally considered custom made thinking.
You see, normally you'd say positive thought is this. If you have a particular situation or challenge think about it with this kind of a thought, "Dada de dada de dada de da." If you're having trouble with your love affair then think about it this way, "Dada de dada de da." So you're given the kind of thoughts that you should think, and you want to program your mind with these thoughts, and this is going to make a lot of difference in your life. This, you see, is not essentially positive thought at all.
037 Positive thinking is being attuned to your potential
Positive thought is a matter of tuning yourself into the infinite positive, which is the creative process that always flows within you.
You see, in metaphysical teaching there's a lot of emphasis on building things into the subconscious mind. Quite often it's said, "Now, if you take these tools and build them into your mind, program your mind with these positives, then you're going to have a creative and fulfilling life." But this is not exactly fulfilling the spiritual process. You do not ever need to build tools into your subconscious mind. Now, again, this goes against the grain of a lot of things you've heard if you've heard metaphysics. You don't have to program tools into your subconscious mind because if it is truth it is already the essence of infinite mind, and you are the creative expression of infinite mind. You are an identity within it, so the key is not to fill up the mind with metaphysics, but to wake up the consciousness to the fundamental level of your nature, which is already fundamental truth.
You are a spiritual being. Not you can be. This is why we say so often there's no point in trying to be more spiritual. You can never be any more spiritual than you already are because you are a creative creature, a spiritual being, formed in the identity of the infinite process within you. This is what you really are. You can't change this. You can change your awareness of it. You can wake up to it, so it's not building it into your mind, keep saying the thing over, and over, and over to yourself because it's like the person who says to him, "I'm not afraid. I'm not afraid. I'm not afraid. I'm not afraid. I'm not afraid. I'm not afraid," and what he's really saying is, "I'm scared to death."
Often times when we insistently program certain things into our subconscious mind there is something within our mind that's saying, in a sense, "Boy, I must be awful upset or they wouldn't be giving me all this junk." You see, that isn't the key. It's not programming the mind with positives, but it's waking up the mind to the deep underlying positive, which is the truth of your being. You are the creative expression of this infinite process. When you think of yourself as being capable and creative you are not going to make yourself capable and creative. You cannot say to yourself over and over, "I'm creative creature. I'm a creative creature. I'm a creative creature. I do creative things beautifully, wonderfully all the time." You're not going to become creative because you keep saying that to yourself. Now, that's one of the little bits of misinformation that come into this whole study of truth.
You're not going to be creative because you say you're creative, but when you understand the technique involved you say you're creative because you know that innately you are creative. It's very subtle, but it's important. See, because unless you add that, "I'm saying I'm creative because I know I'm creative," and you're trying to make something happen, which can never really happen because you do not actually believe it. You say, "I am a totally uncreative person, but I'm trying to become creative by saying I'm creative," but deep within you while you're saying, "I'm creative. I'm creative. I'm creative," there's something in back of it all that's saying, "But I'm still the uncreative person I always was," and you don't really change that at all. You don't change that.
This is the little bone I have to pick with the so called self-image psychology. You can program your mind with a whole new image. Plaster it over your subconscious mind with a whole new image of yourself and a whole new way of seeing yourself, but in back of it all is the same scared little person you've always been. You simply act differently. You simply put on the façade, but underlying it all is the same person because you really believe you uncreative, you see. So when you think of yourself as being capable you don't make capable. You simply let the light shine through your innate potential.
One of the teachers says this example, "When the weathervane points to the north it does not make the north wind blow, but it simply registers the fact that the north wind is already blowing." Now, isn't that beautiful? It's a very important thing. You don't make it happen because you say it, but you say it because that's what is true, you see. This is a fundamental aspect of truth. Say what you believe and you'll believe that you say. You'll begin to express in a whole different way. Positive thinking does not make creative power, and it doesn't change God or conditions. Positive thinking simply attunes you to the power that is and can never change, can never be altered. You become one with this mental power, and it shines through you. Positive thinking, creative thinking is thought that essentially is in tune with the infinite.
Maxwell Maltz refers to the mind a server mechanism, and a lot of metaphysical studies place a great deal of emphasis on this. Thinking of the mind as a giant computer that will work for you if you program it with the right data. This takes your mind out of the context of the whole of mind. See, your mind is not separate from infinite mind. If you can get some of the positives of infinite mind into your mind then you're going to be a creative person. You are already and can never be less than an identity within infinite mind. This is what you always are, a state of consciousness within that. You can change your consciousness. Your consciousness may limit and obstruct in the same way that it may expand and creatively express, but it's for you to do the changing.
038 Working with mind from within
We want to get this distinction between working with mind from without and working with mind from within as an intuitive flow to be released. Paul talks about this. He makes this clear distinction when he says, "Don't let world around you mold your life from without, but let God remold your mind from within." (Rom. 12:2) Don't think of your mind as a fact collector. Don't think of the process of truth, of trying to get it into you consciousness. Quite often people say, "I've read this book." People tell me this all the time, "I've read your book, and I've read it three or four times, and I'm certainly trying to get it into my consciousness." Save the effort. Don't try to get it into your consciousness. The book is not putting thoughts in your mind, but if it's going to be important at all it's going to be little spark plugs that are igniting within you the awareness of that which you've already believed.
If you read something, as we often do, you read something and say, "Hey, that's great." We underline it. We underline it with the subtle thought that, "Somehow I want to try to remember that. I want to get it into my mind." The fact that you underline is because you already remember it with a remembrance that proceeds the writing of the book. You remember it because you've woken up to a consciousness within yourself that knows that is true, so say yes to it. That's all. Say yes to it. Amen! Yes! Great! Wonderful! True, it is. It's now true. It can never be less than true. Don't try to get it into your mind, but know that your recognition of it is a releasement of the positive power that is already flowing forth out of your mind. Not filling up, but waking up, you see. Now, that's a very important insight, and one that we can so easily forget.
039 Horizontal thinking and vertical thinking
I make the distinction in my book between horizontal and vertical thought. One deals with an information, the other with inspiration. The one deals with things as they are. The other one deals with things as you are. Get the difference? In one case you're looking at the thing, and you see it and you say, "Well, that's the way it is. What are you going to do?" The other case is, "I see it. I recognize it. The people have problems, but I have capacity to deal with the problems [unclear] I want." Remember, Jesus said, "In the world you have tribulation, but behold, I have overcome the world. I can decide how I'm going to deal with it." See, this is vertical thought.
The horizontal thought is a thought that reads the newspaper and sees the things in the world, and says, "Oh, boy. What a terrible day. Everything's wrong today. The world is falling apart." But the vertical thinker sees these things, but instead of simply reacting to them he thinks the kind of thoughts that he wants to think. Essentially as a positive thinker he thinks the kind of thoughts that he wants to see manifest in his life, so that he tends to become instead of problem oriented, he becomes solution oriented. The person who reads the paper, (clicking) is the part of the problem.
I say this often, and this is terribly judgmental and some people don't like this, but it's a very important thing to understand in terms of the art of thinking. That if you're always reacting to how terrible things are, "Oh, the murders. The crime. The politicians. This. That. Oh, it's terrible," then that person in consciousness is a part of the problem of society because that same negative negation goes round, and round, and round like a vicious circle, can never stop of itself until someone gets off. "Stop the ride. I want to get off." Someone gets off by saying, "These conditions are there, but I have the power to see them in a positive way, and I have the power to get in tune with a higher dimension," or as Thoreau would say, to march to the tune of a different drummer, "and in this consciousness I can begin to inject into the general media of world affairs a new positive attitude. I can become a part of a solution." There will be no solutions in society until we be to think vertically about the things that happened. Make that distinction there.
Think about it yourself. The matter of being a horizontal thinker or a vertical thinker. The vertical thinker doesn't close his eyes and say it doesn't happen. He starts as this point. As Jesus said, "In the world, but not of it." I'm in the world. I read the paper. I know what's going on, but I also know that I am the center of my world myself, and I know what's going on in me, and what's going on in me is positive and creative. I know that I have the capacity, first of all, to keep myself in perfect peace, and beyond that, to be a part of the solution of the problems that happen in the world out here. That's the only way that things are going to change in society, you see.
040 Even Jesus had negative thoughts
The positive person is not a person who never has a negative thought. Now, this is a very important insight because I think quite often we tend to make it too hard for ourselves. We say, "Oh, I wanted to think positive this day, but now I've found myself thinking negative thoughts. I guess that's just the kind of person I am. What are you going to do? I'm hopeless." The positive thinker is not one who never has a negative thought, and I want to shock a little bit. Some of you. Even Jesus had negative thoughts, and he had lots of them. Does that disturb you a little bit? Jesus had a lot of negative thoughts. These are related to very frankly and openly.
When he went out into the wilderness to spend that 40 period of fasting he had a lot of negative thoughts. The negative thoughts are symbolized by the Satan or devil in the wilderness. Now, we've allowed ourselves to justify the whole theological process by thinking of the devil as the man with the red coat, and the pitch fork, and the horned tail, and with fire coming out of his mouth, and so forth, but actually this is a symbol. Satan or the devil is always a symbol of the limited consciousness of man. What was happening here in Jesus's wilderness experience is that there was something coming to the surface, of certain thought patterns in his own mind.
We're told that Jesus was tempted in all parts such as we, and yet without sin. The temptation being in the flow of negative thoughts in the mind. Satan in the wilderness experience was tempting Jesus, his own negative thoughts, his own human habit patterns of thought were saying, "Look, why should I starve out here? I can turn these stones into bread and get all I want to eat. I can show that I have tremendous power. I can throw myself off the top of a temple and protect myself, or I can set myself up as a king and become a great master of the world around me." All of these were the temptations running through his mind. Not terrible negative, but in terms of the goals that he had set for himself they were negative, so he had negative thoughts too.
See, the great lesson is that where you and I might have said, "Just like me to act in that way." I go out here to fast and have a spiritual retreat, and I find myself thinking all these negative materialistic thoughts. "Just like me. Wouldn't you know it?" That's the way many of us might've acted, but Jesus disidentified from the patterns, recognized that something had to be done, and decided to do it. He said, "Get thee be in me. Get thee hence." In other words, he said, "No." This is a tremendous lesson. It's one that we tend to overlook.
041 You can say no to negative thoughts
It's as simple as watching television and deciding that you don't like a program. Do you just sit and watch it? Sometimes we do. Sometimes we do.
Like this classic comment of a letter to the editor. The woman said ... She was real ecstatic about her feeling and emotions about television. She said, "I think it is terrible, the awful fare on television, that me and my family have to sit and watch every night." The editor responded in a little cryptic note, "What about the off switch?" That's the thing we overlook, you see. In other words, you can turn it off. The thought patterns is in your mind, and you're in control. The fact that you have a negative thought doesn't meant that you're a bad person, but the thing is, are you going to all that negative thought to take possession over you or are you going to disidentify from it? You have the capacity to say no. When there's a symptom that indicates that you're moving into the clutches of illness or financial depression say no to it.
For instance, a classic illustration is the person who sneezes. "Ah-choo! Oh, I guess I'm catching a cold." Why the negative thought? "Ah-choo! I've caught a cleansing." Why not turn it around? Why not say the sneeze is getting rid of the impurities, and therefore I'm well. As matter of fact, it's probably more physically true than the other, that the sneezing is a part of the involuntary process of getting rid of germs and so forth, so let them go. Let them go. "I've caught a cleansing. Praise, God. I'm free." Instead of allowing yourself to feel, "Oh, it's terrible. It's terrible. This virus is going around. I guess I'm getting it." No. I say no Turn it off. Turn to another channel. Get yourself into a different wavelength.
When we understand the way a mind works we begin to realize that we have the capacity. Every one of us has the capacity to turn from one level of thinking to another. It's your mind. It's your mind, and you can think what you want to think. You don't have to follow along the old habit patterns, the old habit tracks of negative thinking. You can think in another way. Turn to a different channel. Say no. Disidentify it. As Jesus said, "Get thee behind me, Satan." "I refuse to go along with this anymore. I'm a spiritual being, and I know that my life is constantly in the flow of spirit. I give thanks for the renewing process that's taking place within me right now and always." I'm not saying this just out of a record that you put on, but I'm saying it out articulation of a realization that you are identity with an infinite mind, and you can express positively rather than negatively.
You can reverse thought habits at any moment by simply refusing to identify with them. Stand aloof from your difficulty, from your thought, or your average thoughts that you have about them, and just say, "No. I refuse. I let it go." It's like the story of the little girl, which is a classic story. She was riding her bicycle around the neighborhood, and she sat in front of a house of a friend of the family, and she feel and skinned her knee. She obviously hurt herself pretty badly, so she's sitting on the curb, and she's rubbing her knee very stoically. The man came up, and he was very concerned. He said, "Oh darling, are you okay?" She says, "Yeah, I'm all right." "Doesn't it hurt?" She said, "Yeah, it hurts." "Why don't you cry?" She said, "I just say to myself, "Stop that," and make myself mind me." Out of the mouths of babes, you see. There's a young girl who is already beginning to realize that she has the power and control over her thoughts. That she can think the kind of thoughts that she wants want manifest in her life.
Now, I'm not saying I want to withhold tears. That is a whole different thing.
042 What discipline really is
We're simply saying that you have the capacity to make yourself mind you. This is what discipline really is. Some people say, "Well, I'm not a very disciplined person. That's just one of those problems in my life." All right. Keep right on saying it. Keep right on affirming for yourself, "I'm not disciplined. I'm not disciplined." The fact is that we are all disciplined creatures because we always do the kind of things that we really want to do. Sometimes there's certain things we don't want to do, and so we allow our lack of discipline to allow us to go in that direction. The point is, it is your mind, and you have the power to think what you want to think. Of course, it needs commitment, and discipline, and at least as much attention as we give to food or bodily appearance.
Just note, for instance how many of us, in the beginning of the day, probably most of us because this is the world in which we live, we stand before a mirror and we care for ourselves physically with meticulous detail. If we're a man we shave, we bate, or if it's a lady we set our hair, and we put on our eye makeup, and our eyelashes, and we take care of our nails, and we select and arrange our clothes, and fix our tie, and we preen before the mirror for a good while before we're ready to go out in the world, and this is fine. This is good. There's a certain self-image involved in this that's, I think, important. But what of our state of mind?
We're getting ourselves all ready to face the world properly attired, and acquitted, and so forth. How are we going to face the world in terms of our mental consciousness? Are we ready to face the world with our mind positive, and at peace, and in tune with the divine flow, or do we just simply go out and say, "Well, I wonder what's going to happen today"?
It sounds like that classic story of the airline pilot who carefully grooms himself for the flight. He gets his knowledge of all the instruments. Makes sure they're all carefully working, and so forth, and then he taxis the plane down the runway, and they get it up into the air, and he fulfill his job as a skillful pilot. He let's go of the controls, and he turns to the copilot and says, "Well, I wonder where the plane's going to take us today." Unconsciously this is the kind of attitudes with which so many of us face life. We may be all ready for the day physically. We have our personality all out in front of us, but mentally we don't know what's going to happen. We're become totally submissive to any vagrant, negative thought that flows into our mind.
043 The importance of mental preparation
I say, of what advantage is it to face life meticulously accoutered if one is mentally disheveled?
This is something we have to think about. It's more important to prepare yourself mentally for the day than it is physically. It probably feels nice to be physically secure, and trim, and neat, and so forth, but it's much more important in terms of your contribution to yourself and to the world that you are mentally prepared for the day. So important to get yourself in tune with the divine flow. It's like a runner gritting for a race. Strip of the unnecessary attire. Let go of the habits that bind the mind.
For instance, if you labored under an inferiority complex. How often do we awaken in the morning and we begin immediately to harp on the same old tune? "I have an inferiority complex. That's just the way I am. I've always been there. In fact, I was born with it, I guess. It's tattooed on my forehead, 'inferior complex'." We start our day still harping on all the relative attitudes and feelings relative to this, so we tend to think of ourselves as an inferior person, which isn't true.
I don't care what kind of a complex you have. I don't care how deep seeded your inferiority complex is, you're not an inferior person. You are a person with inferior thoughts, and that's the difference. You're not a inferior person. You're a person with inferior thoughts, and when you understand that then you can change those thoughts, and you can begin to do it today. But as long you think that, "My inferiority complex is simply a matter that I'm an inferior person," if you're an inferior person how are you going to change it? You can't change the stripes of a leopard, you see. If that's the way you are, that's the way you are.
A person may have a failure complex, and he tends to think of himself as failure, but you're not a failure. I don't care how many times you have failed you're not a failure. Just think of the researcher who fails time, and time, and time again, but he's not a failure because he's a researcher. Because he profits by every failure. You're not a failure. You're a person holding failure thoughts and a person who has had failing experiences, but you are a child of God. You are in infinite identity with an infinite mind, and you have the capacity to think the kind of thoughts you want to think. You can change the failure complex. You can change the inferiority complex. You can change the sickness complex. You can change any kind of complex by determining that these are things that are going on within you, but you're in control. You're in charge, and you have the responsibility, and the opportunity, and the privilege of altering your thoughts, and thus changing your whole life.
In other words, you see it is not what you are, that you are ... I should say that you are not what you think. You are thinking what you think. Let's be very clear about that. You are not what you think. You are thinking what you think. I'd like you to kind of get that thought so clearly in mind that it just rings a bell every time you think of it. Maybe you'd like to say, "I'm not what I think. I'm thinking what I think." Let's whisper that together:
"I'm not what I think. I'm thinking what I think."
Now, remember that. Make a note of it. If you want to write it on a piece of paper and put it on your desk so that you think about it. It's I'm not what I think. I think what I think. The I that thinks has the capacity to think what it wants to think, and I decide to think positively and creatively, and I can do so. You can be as happy as you make up your mind to be. You can as successful as you let yourself be. You can be as healthy as you expect yourself to be. Through your state of mind you release or inhibit the flow of dynamic life so [unclear] intelligence of the infinite constantly, always.
044 Make up your bed and make up your mind
Now, I want to give you a little homework assignment. If you're really interesting in doing something about this here's a little trick that you can fulfill, and it's so simple that it's to be naïve. Don't laugh at it because it's a very, very important realization. It came to a number of years ago when I was listening to on radio. It was before television was quite as widespread as it was today. Listening to a radio interview of Robert Frost, the tremendous poet. Someone was asking him to try to explain his tremendous, contagious optimism. "How can you always be so positive and optimistic? How can you always be so happy? What's the key? What's the key to the success of your attitudes?"
He said, "It seems to me the important thing for creative and positive living is man's capacity to mold and shape things." Man has the power to mold and shape. In other words, thinking in terms of being a manufacturer. You can shape things as you will. He said, "I've decided long since that whenever I face the day, after I wake up, before I go down and listen to the radio, or read the newspaper, or face my wife, or go out into the world, I do two things before anything else. The first thing I do is to make up my bed, and the second thing is to make up my mind."
The reason for the first is that it's physical. It's something I can actually do, so I physically make up the bed. Straightening up the covers and rolling the sheets, the wrinkles of the bed, and so forth. But while I'm doing this I get the feeling identification with my mind. That I'm making up my mind. I'm getting the wrinkles out of my mind. I'm getting myself organized and orderly. I'm beginning to think the kind of thoughts that I want to think. I make up my bed, then I make up my mind, then I go down and face the world, and I'm secure that no matter what happens I can be on top of it. This was a simple little demonstration or technique by Robert Frost.
I want us to use that as an exercise during this week. As I say, don't laugh at it. Really try it. When you wake up in the morning, any morning, even your partner always makes up the bed, you say, "No. Wait a minute. I'm going to make up the bed this week." Take a few minutes before you do anything else to make up the bed. Pull the covers up, straighten it all out, get the wrinkles out, and get that sense of identification that while you're doing this you're getting your mind in order. You're getting yourselves in tune to make that sort of identification. You're getting yourself constantly identified with the individualization which you are of infinite mind. That you live in divine mind. The allness of infinite mind. All the creative intelligence of the universe is the milieu, you live in it. It's here, and you can shape and mold it any way you will. So as you begin to shape your bed into a nice orderly arrangement in the same sense you're shaping your mind into that which is positive, and creative, and self-fulfilling.
If you do this, this simple little exercise, which in a sense is not prayer, but yet in a very real sense is probably more prayer than some of the prayers we utter, you will find that you will become more positive, more capable, and more ready to meet the experiences of the day with positive, creative power. Try it. See what you can do with it. I think you'll find it will be very helpful.
Now, let's take just a minute to be still to remind us once again to remember that we live in the medium of infinite mind. The same intelligence that creates the universe is the intelligence that is the essence within every thought of your mind. Every thought of your mind is an expression of infinite intelligence. Even the negative thoughts. We realize then that thoughts are forced into the molds of human consciousness according to our will or according to our interest, so we commit ourselves to thinking the kind of thoughts that we want to think, the kind of thoughts that we want to see manifest in our lives, knowing that thoughts produce conditions.
We affirm for ourselves I am not what I think, but I am thinking what I think, and the self of me that thinks has the capacity to think positively. I decide right now that during the week to come I'm going to think the kind of thought that I want to see manifest. I'm not going to react to conditions. I'm going to creatively express the positive power of infinite mind. I'm not going to be simple a horizontal thinker, simply responding and reacting to all the things that are happening in the world. I'm going to be a vertical thinker. I'm going to know that even thought it would appear that there are a lot of problems out there, yet I don't have the problems. People have the problems. The world has the problems, and I have the capacity to deal with those problems in a positive way.
Let's make a commitment that during this week we're going to discipline ourselves to keep ourselves in constant control of our mind. We're not going to be disturbed or upset if a negative thought flits into our mind because we're thinkers, and thought habits are pretty deep seeded. We're going to know that regardless of the negative thoughts that come in our mind we can disidentify from them. Instead of saying, "Just like me. That's the way I am. There's no hope," we say, "I have the power and the capacity to rise above this, and I say to this condition, completely disidentifying from it, "Get thee behind me. Get thee hence." I say, "No," and then I begin to say yes to a lot of wonderful things, positive things. Things that I read, things that I see, things that are beautiful around me, I say yes to them, and say no to the things that I don't want to be a part of my life."
In commitment, and discipline, and positive power following this program will make this one of the most wonderful weeks that you've ever experienced in your life. We give thanks that this is exactly what it will be. Praise God for the truth that makes us free. Amen.
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