An Uncommon Point of View
Each year we spend millions of dollars and hours upon hours of time striving to replace negative thinking with positive thinking. Positive thinking is considered the cure for our contaminated, unhappy mind. We are told that if we think positively, our lives will be filled with peace, joy, and good health. Or so the story goes. The other side of this story tells us that negative thoughts are the culprits of our unhappy lives—the main thing that makes us so miserable. This would certainly seem true if we look at the science behind negative thoughts which says that out of the approximately 70,000 thoughts we have each day, 65-70% of these are negative. That’s a lot of negativity. These kinds of thoughts must affect our lives in, well, a negative way.
Based on such statistics and our personal experiences with negativity, it is easy to believe the story that we have to get rid of negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. From this, we take on the challenge—battling it out so the good overcomes the bad. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this point of view. But, here, I am going to propose a different approach. One that suggests we don’t need to battle thoughts at all. And just how do I propose we get around this pastime of turning negative thoughts into positive ones? We go beyond them.
Before we continue, let me take a moment here to clarify that I am not saying anyone ought to give up focusing on positive thinking as a current practice, or discontinue efforts to rid themselves of negativity. There are many avenues to peace, authenticity, and improved health. All ways are honored. None is better than another. Whatever means you use to get to your authentic self is completely appropriate for you. Today, however, I am going to offer a completely different point of view on positive and negative thinking that may be even more helpful to you. You decide.
A Mind-Created Game
From my perspective, positive and negative thoughts are two things. One, they are a made-up concept that exists on opposite ends of the same pole of a hellish existence, driven by the programmed mind. What I mean is that we are trained to believe in this story of positive and negative and participating in it causes us lots of unnecessary suffering. The negative makes us feel bad one moment and in the next moment we are on a search for the positive remedy that, hopefully, make us feel better. But outside of our trained personas and the lives that go with them, this concept and these terms don’t even exist because they’re not needed—they don’t apply. To understand this a little more, imagine a world where everything is already okay— flawlessly timed, flawlessly planned, and a place where there is nothing wrong with you or anyone else. Positive and negative are obviously useless here. This concept exists only in the mind-made realm — a realm we don’t have to believe in any longer. This is what I mean when we are going beyond them—going beyond the mind-made realm to find truth and authenticity.
Two, positive and negative thoughts are nothing more than a game to keep us occupied, like busywork, so we don’t remember the truth about who we are. A number of years ago, after reading “The Four Agreements” (Amber-Allen Publishing, 1997) by Don Miguel Ruiz, I began remembering who I really was by realizing who I was not. Who am I? Who are you? The pure power of love.
In Don Miguel’s book, the first agreement is Be Impeccable with Your Word. This means don’t use words against yourself and others. Loser, idiot, asshole and other choice words have no place in our world when we are impeccable with our words, whether we use them against others or ourselves.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was doing just that—using words against myself and others. Then I started paying attention to what I was saying. When I did, I actually heard the words I was using and they weren’t pretty or nice. In fact, they were degrading and negative. But, I didn’t replace those words with positive ones. I just stopped saying all of the negative words and eventually the negative thinking was reduced to a minimum. It wasn’t a battle, it was a practice, like meditation or drinking more water each day. Said another way, it’s nothing more than breaking a habit, like not biting your nails or turning off electronics one hour before bedtime. The impact of this small, but mighty, action on my life was extraordinary. My entire life changed for the better and I didn’t use a single positive thought to get there.
Create Space from Thoughts, Not Battles
There is enough energy in the human body to light a lightbulb. Why do I tell you this? Because I want to help you understand your true nature—who you really are beyond all the positive and negative thoughts. To do this, you must realize that you are pure energy—not just any energy though—high frequency energy. The highest.
Energy is expressed as frequencies. To understand this a little more, let’s use the experience of music played on a piano. The lower keys produce a pitch, or frequency, that feel heavy or slow to us. They also feel dark or scary. We could equate the sounds that lower keys on a piano make to negative thoughts, energetically speaking. Both affect us in similar ways. So negative thoughts are really nothing more than a frequency we experience emotionally and physically as an energetic body.
By contrast, keys on the right side, or higher, end of the piano are experienced as lighter, and faster when played. We equate music played from this part of the piano to positive thoughts. Similarly, positive thoughts are nothing more than a frequency we experience emotionally and physically, as an energetic being. It is in this way that negative thoughts may appear to make us unwell, or feel depressed and positive thoughts heal us and make us feel happy. We could say the energy of our thoughts produce an experience in the energetic being of us. And low frequency thoughts do not match the high frequency being we truly are—the energy of pure love itself. This misalignment is what creates the pain and preventable illnesses we experience as energetic beings. So, how do we really cure the effect of negative thinking without getting involved in a battle for positive thoughts? We create space from all of our thoughts—both the positive ones and the negative ones.
Let Go of Negative…and Positive?
Many people want to quiet their minds. This is because the mind is spewing out negative thoughts and these are painful to us. So, when we want to quiet the mind, we are really interested in stopping the pain. But this is difficult since the mind is set up to run continuously. Some people turn to meditation as a means of quieting the mind. However, this is not entirely successful for most, even after years of practice. Of course, meditation may be just what brings you to peace, so please continue meditating if it’s working for you. Meditation has many benefits, even if it doesn’t completely quiet the mind. But if meditation is not working for you, maybe something else will.
Imagine, for a moment, that there are three parts of you that make up the whole you. One part is the body and it is right here in the present moment. Another part of you is the authentic soul self, also here in the present moment, but different than the body. Then there is the mind-created self—a persona that you were taught to believe in with all of its rules, concepts and conditions. Your persona has even been given a name that you were taught is you. Here, we will simply call this the mind. Now this mind is somewhere else—it’s outside of you and away from you—over there, by itself. In the moment where you imagine these three parts in this way, you have just created space between you and your mind. It’s that simple.
This is a powerful realization, or event, because once this space between you and the mind is realized, it no longer matters what the mind believes, thinks or says. It is away from you and has no power over you. It only controls you when you think you are it. So now, positive thoughts have no power over you and negative thoughts have no power over you. This is freedom. This is peace. This is your authentic self. This is where healing happens. This is where love is.
Let’s look at creation of space from a different point of view. The yogi, mystic and visionary, Sadhguru, uses a great metaphor to explain space from the mind[i]. Paraphrasing, he says, “It is like you are stuck in the traffic jam and you are struggling through the traffic. That’s one experience. Now, suppose you are floating in a hot air balloon and you look down at all the traffic, very peacefully. Ah, traffic. Why do you feel this peace? It’s the distance, isn’t it? When you’re in it—you experience TRAFFIC! It’s a different experience from before. From really high up in the hot air balloon, you look down, and you can’t even hear the sounds. The traffic looks wonderful because there is a distance. So, once there is a distance between you and your mind’s activity, the mind is not a problem.” Negative thoughts are also not a problem and neither are positive ones.
Wait a minute, though. It’s an obviously wonderful thing to no longer be controlled by negative thinking, but what’s wrong with positive thinking? The key word here is controlled. The goal is not to be controlled by any concepts. This is the only place there is any freedom. In the world of opposites, you can’t give up being controlled by negative thinking without also being controlled by positive thinking. This may seem to fly in the face of all that we have been taught about positive thinking, but remember, I’m introducing something completely different from what we have been taught. Being controlled by positive thoughts is no more freedom than being controlled by negative ones. The only way to win, and winning means being truly free to be your authentic self, is not to play at all. If you continue to believe you have to think positive thoughts, you are still playing the game and you are not free.
Returning to Your Truest Self
The terms positive and negative are considered opposites, or dualistic terms. Our trained mind-created world is made up of thousands of such dualistic terms, like as happy/sad, good/bad, strong/weak, success/failure, right/wrong, and so on. This is the yin and yang of life. Opposites aren’t good or bad, then. They are merely trained concepts we believe we have to follow. The yin and yang of life creates balance so the concepts of opposites are really super helpful tools that can lead us out of the world of dualism and a mind-driven existence into a place of pure peace and authentic self-recognition.
In the dualistic world of opposites, positive exists only with negative and vice versa. One does not exist without the other. If we let go of one, we must also let go of the other as they are linked together to create the game that we no longer wish to play. Said another way, if we let go of one end of the pole of a concept created by the programmed mind, we must also let go of the other end. It’s okay, we don’t need these concepts except to show us that they are merely concepts, not truths. Once they have served their purpose, they become redundant—they are out of a job. By creating space from the mind, we can skip the entire game and go directly to our authentic, loving selves.
I have said before that all is divine and the world of opposites, dualism and yin/yang are no different. It is exactly the energy of opposites that keep us balanced by bringing us back to our authentic selves. We only experience sound because of no sound. We only experience positive because of negative. And when we are ready to move beyond this dualistic approach to life, to our authentic selves, to the pure love that we are, it will be the world of opposites that can help get us here. Go ahead. Experience the freedom from positive and negative. Find your true self in the space beyond the mind.
[i] Isha/Sadhguru. “How Do You Stop the Mind’s Chatter?” YouTube, Sadhguru Talks, January 16, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNyJgNjCDuU.
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