and the almond tree blossomed. - Nikos Kazantzakis
But let me backup for a moment.
One morning I was watching a palm tree.
This one, actually.
It's rather beautiful how they sway with abandon (I swear they are going to snap in half!) and how tall some grow on huge spindly legs -- some three times higher than the homes below them.
I was watching a palm standing perfectly silently. Everything was still in the air. So I thought. Then a few of the feathered fronds began twitching wildly. There must have been one small stream of air gusting through that part of the branch.
The palms are so high that they catch all kinds of air currents that I never feel or see. These invisible winds can strip the palms of all their fronds and send them hurling to the ground, crashing through the windshields of the cars below. Or just tickle them gently. Palms are truly at the mercy of the shifting winds. Nothing can change the effect the wind on them: they sway and flutter all day and all night. It is easy to see that this whole picture works very harmoniously, even on the stormiest of days. In fact, it seems built to work this way.
As I watched the palm fronds doing their accordion dance, it occurred to me this is the way human thinking works too. We experience our thoughts much the same way the palms experience the winds. Thoughts move through us long before we detect they are there and we too, sway and flutter. (In terms of our feelings that is).
One thing I know to be true about humans is that thoughts are the source of our feelings. Stormy thoughts stir up inevitably dark and tempestuous feelings and activate our senses. We can't stop that process any more than the palm can not sway in the wind.
When the human has passing thoughts moving through they ondulate in harmony with that thinking, just like the tree bends with the passing wind; the difference is the tree is not upset about the fact that this is happening.
When our thoughts are blowing around and our feelings are getting tossed up and down, however, we get anxious and afraid. We don't feel neutral about this. We get concerned about our own movement. I work with many people who are concerned about the way they are feeling. They ask me, "Why do I feel so bad?" Consider the possibility for a moment that there are not infinite answers to this question. There is, as far as I know, only one answer to this question: thought is blowing through.
Sydney Banks who first described the 3 Principles wrote in The Missing Link, "Thought on it's own is a completely neutral gift."
The simple explanation for all of it is, you are experiencing what you think.
If only, like the tree, we could be neutral about this process! After all, it's just the way we are made. Trees don't prefer calm days to windy days. Trees are not concerned about storms.
People are not like this are they? We humans would like it all to stop moving. We want it smoothed out. We don't want to sway in the wind. We don't like it. All these troublesome feelings getting stirred around ... we want to control the wind. We want to locate the person who sent the wind and make them stop. We hire people hoping they will tell us how to stop the wind.
We are not always happy when we realize we can't stop the wind blowing.
One of the laws of life is that, as humans, we think. Another is that we feel what we think. What if we could really see that this is just no big deal?
It is so very important to know that the human is not defective as he/she experiences the ups and downs of emotional life.
I was telling a friend that the great benefit of learning the Three Principles is not that my life has smoothed out to a lovely even hum, but that I've stopped worrying about tracking where I am in every moment and trying to control what I think. I accept that I am in movement.
I used to be incredibly concerned about my moods. I thought they meant something about me. Now I see how they come and go and I am much less attentive to them. I'm not trying to create a prevalent "good mood" I am simply getting clearer about how the process works. And that clarity has left me much kinder and more understanding towards myself. Being less concerned about shifting feelings also tends to leave me in a clearer state of mind generally, so I notice I occasionally have made better decisions about what truly needs to be said out loud, or whether I should be driving.
When I am not trying to change my own mood or judging it, I get more open to seeing it for what it is.
We are actually as perfectly built as the tree. You already are the tree that bends. If you were not unhappy about that, you'd be as contented as the palm tree, or let's say -- you'd be as "non-concerned" as a palm tree -- and you'd stop trying so hard to control the content and flow of your thinking.
In that moment you'd find your complete freedom, because you would literally no longer be like Don Quixote "tilting at windmills."