"The world is a divine dream, suspended between the boundaries of time, space and matter" – Syd Banks
When Sheela asked me a couple of weeks back if I would be willing to write a piece about my transformation through this understanding of the Three Principles and the inside out nature of the human experience, I was delighted – after all, there's nothing like a good story to help get the message across. But then I sat down to write it and found myself faced with an incredibly hard task, despite all the writing I do about the Principles, I had no idea where to start. Then I thought, "Well, that's okay. I have a piece already written about how the principles saved my marriage, I can send her that and maybe we can adapt what's written there" and so I did and Sheela was okay with that idea.
But, several days later, while I was mulling over how best to adapt what I had already written, what came to mind is that the essence of transformation is not in the form, the essence of transformation finds itself in the formless, certainly expressed via thought but definitely not in the circumstances of the world that we see.
I could delve back into my past memories and give you a glimpse of an abused childhood; I could delve into the past and give you examples of failed relationships, failed careers, failed family life and then explain to you how my world has improved since that time... but to do so, would be to lead you astray.
The essence of this understanding, and the essence of the transformation that comes with this understanding, is that it is not a prescription but very simply a description of the human condition and how we function psychologically; understanding that is where the true transformation lies.
As such, it is incredibly hard for me to go back into my past and search for those examples, and yet I have them but I don't go there anymore, I don't visit those memories – I don't attempt to occult them, sometimes they just pop up but I don't deliberately go looking for them.
What is the essence of the transformation that I have lived? Very simply, in the past I believed that I was living in the feeling of my circumstances; now I know that I live in the feeling of my thinking, but what's essentially transformational is gaining the awareness that even in those past memories I am conscious of the fact that I was living in the feeling of my thinking back then too, even if I couldn't see it at the time.
When I came to the principles, I was in a suicidal state. It was the 1st of April, 2012. On that day I had made, after four months of contemplating not if, but how to end my life, a conscious decision that if I didn't find some kind of solution on that day then I would not wake up the next.
As it happened I signed on to Michael Neill's website as a café member and got access, with a discount, to the Living from the Inside Out online program that he was running at the time. The program had been running for a few weeks already and so I spent 48 hours, practically non-stop, watching the videos and listening to the calls. On the third day, I was sitting in my kitchen when the first major insight hit me full on... and that was that I was not a victim of my circumstances but that I was creating my own pain myself via my own innocent misuse of the gift of thought. Of course, things still continued to look very outside in to me but I was aware that the feelings about my circumstances were coming through my thought system. In the world of form, I didn't want to kill myself anymore; in the world of form I had renewed hope.
As the insights came, one after the other in the following weeks and months, I began to see the world with new eyes. I understood that everybody thinks and that everybody is doing the best that they can to alleviate their own sense of pain and suffering and that they do it in the best way that they see how, given their thinking in the moment.
I became aware that the large majority of people don't even realize that they can only ever be victim of their own thinking, that most people do believe that their circumstances dictate who they are and who they can be.
But more than that, with that realization came a massive sense not just of forgiveness, but of pure compassion. I don't go in for religion, I'm not a religious person, though I have a profound respect for those who are but, at that time, one phrase kept coming to mind and that is the phrase that Jesus is told to have said when he was on the cross, "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do"
In simple laic terms, for me that boils down to "how can I blame somebody for bad behaviour, no matter how bad that behaviour could have been, when they weren't doing it on purpose; when they didn't even know what they were doing because they simply did not have the conscious awareness to see and make a choice?"
You see, now when those memories come forth, and they do, that's the way human beings function, I don't relive them with the feeling in which I lived them at the time. I watch myself as a silent and compassionate witness, seeing those people in intense pain and attempting to fight their way out of it.
The transformation is not just in the present, it is also in the past and it will be in the future.
This awareness that, once my mind is quiet, all that is left is a sense of peace and love and strength, strength in the knowledge that I don't have to go anywhere or do anything in order to feel that well being; that awareness can sometimes be clouded by my own thoughts but, no matter how clouded, that awareness is always there. Sometimes, I see it only on an intellectual level if I'm in a very low state of mind, and other times I find myself in a state of almost pure consciousness, a meditative state, where I am not latching on to the thoughts that go through my mind.
A busy mind is just a mind where we latch onto a thought, or a couple of thoughts, and turn them over again and again in our brains.
The transformation in the levels of consciousness comes from the realization that I'm the one doing the thinking and, in very simple terms, I can think whatever I like with no obligation to attach to any thought that comes through. That's where our free will comes in.
Thought comes from the source of energy that we call Mind; some call it God, some call it the Universe – it doesn't really matter what we call it. We can't, ourselves, produce a thought; without the energy, without Universal Mind, there is no thought but those thoughts coming from that higher intelligence are simply there as a guide; our intellectual capacity to use those thoughts is the same as testing the temperature of the water with your big toe. Whatever analysis we happen to make through our conceptual thought is not a guarantee of having the right answer. We might think the temperature is perfect, according to our big toe, and then dive in to find out that the ocean is not at all as warm or as cold as we thought. Our intellectual thinking can give us an idea but it can never give us the whole story.
The wisdom that comes through us, that feeling that we get when we hear the words, even though the words themselves are deforming what that feeling is, that sense of Truth that is indescribable – that, is the whole story and that is where we are looking towards.
When my students tell me that they can see this on an intellectual level but that they don't feel it, I don't harangue them with my wisdom; I simply tell them that, in that case they are on the right road. As human beings we see what we know until we learn something new... what I have come to realize with this understanding is that we are learning, or re-learning, something new.
Recently we got fitted out with a new internet provider so a new internet box and a new TV decoder. Everything had been set up but there was just one thing that was amiss and that was that the TV was in black and white and the picture was fuzzy. The signals were still coming through but something, somewhere was not right and the projected image was deformed. As it turned out, I had plugged one of the cables in the wrong way around but once that wire was put back the way it should have been, the picture gained all of its colours and was beautifully clear.
The transformation with this understanding, this learning, or re-learning, to put our trust in our wisdom and not to believe our intellectual thinking to be our guide any more, is like rewiring our brains. The projected image that we then have of the world is far brighter and clearer.
Sometimes my students will ask me, "But when am I going to get this? When will I see? When will I feel it?" Of course there is no answer to that. I saw it in a couple of days, I know other people who have taken years for this Truth to sink in, or rather to sink into this Truth, but what I do know is that when it happens, it happens in a split second, it happens with one thought – that's all it takes to turn a person's world completely inside out... but only the thinker can have the thought.
So, yes, transformation... but the essence of this transformation takes place in the formless, not in the world of form.
Sure, my experience of the world of form has transformed: I could safely say that this understanding saved my marriage, that it saved my children, that it saved my life. I could safely say that it has given me a purpose in life, a purpose that I feel in the present – I became a practitioner and am now, in my turn, transmitting this understanding to others.
But it is in the formless that I have experienced the real and the essential transformation – sense of peace and love, loss of ego, recognizing the illusion of thought, being at times highly conscious, feeling at times a pure connection with the Unity of the Principles, of that formless energy. I can safely say that I have gained a sense of powerful resilience, a quiet force, that I know is always there to "back me up" no matter what my circumstances happen to be. As Forrest Gump's mother always said, "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get" – but whatever I do get, I savour it, because it's part of the human experience, it's part of being alive and, whatever it happens to be, whatever the flavour, my own essence, that part of me in which the Universe resides, remains unchanged, remains whole.
I used to hate life and was terrified of dying.
Then I fell in love with life and now I'm not afraid of dying at all, just grateful for the time that has been allotted to me in this world of form to experience its beauty as much in the form as in the formless, to experience the good and the bad in this "divine dream suspended between the boundaries of time, space and matter."
Rachel Norwood, Three Principles Practitioner