Before Thought and Beyond Belief

One of the words I hear myself use most often in my work is “grounding”. It’s a way of talking about where we are coming from in our life and work. What we’re grounded in is the thinking that seems real to us – the unquestioned or at least no longer questioned beliefs that form the basis of our every reaction and response. In other words:

Beliefs are those thoughts that we think are true, regardless of any evidence to the contrary.

If my world seems an unquestionably scary place, I’ll react to every shadow with suspicion; if my world seems an obviously friendly place, I’ll assume that there’s a positive motive behind every behavior and dismiss anything untoward as an exception to the rule.

One of my own most unquestioned beliefs was that there was no such thing as an objective truth. But to my own surprise, I’ve come to see things considerably differently in the past decade or so.

Here’s how I wrote about it in the 10th anniversary edition of  Supercoach:

This brings me to the secret we’ll be exploring in this session. It’s the secret that underpins everything else we’ll be doing together, because it explains why we see what we see, hear what we hear, feel what we feel, and do what we do. It’s a secret that has been talked about in many eras and many traditions from around the world and is ‘secret’ not because no one wants you to know it, but because it’s so difficult to talk about – like trying to explain the concept of water to a fish.

The secret is that we live in a world of thought, not circumstances. The mind works like a projector, not a camera, which is to say we experience what we think, not some kind of ‘objective reality.’

If you’re having a wonderful experience, that experience is coming to you via thought. If you’re having a horrible experience, well, that’s made of thought too.

The wonderful thing about thought is that it can change in a heartbeat. And once you really begin to understand how your thoughts create your ‘reality,’ you’ll no longer be a victim of the process.

Or to put it more succinctly:

Your world is what you think it is, but there’s a world beyond your thinking.

My initial understanding of this secret came from insights I gleaned while studying the teachings of a Scottish welder named Syd Banks, who had an enlightenment experience at the age of 43. While writing about what he saw could fill volumes (and indeed has), here’s one of his simplest articulations, which includes this first secret:

I had this experience and I realized it was a world of thought. Because whatever we think is what we feel, whatever we think is what we see, whatever we think creates our desires. It creates good marriages, bad marriages. But there is a greater secret than that. You step beyond the five senses, and when you learn to step beyond the five senses you live a happy, contented life full of love. Because love is always the answer.

Syd talked about life in terms of three principles – irreducible elements out of which everything in life is created. While he described each of them in hundreds of different ways, here are some of his more concise descriptions to give us a startingpoint for our exploration:

  •  Mind is the intelligence of literally all things in this world or any other world… [It’s] the Mind that has the power to guide you through life.’
  • Consciousness gives us the ability to realize the existence of life… Consciousness is infinite – there is no end to it.’
  • Thought is a gift we were given to have the freedom to walk through life and see what we want to see… Thought is not reality, yet it is through Thought that our realities are created.’

He then went on to put them together in two simple ways, one mathematical and one poetic in its simplicity:

  • ‘Mind + Consciousness + Thought = Reality’
  • ‘Our thoughts are the camera, our eyes are the lens. Put them together and the picture we see is reality.’

When we’re grounded in the truth beyond our personal thinking, our thoughts appear less solid and real and we naturally live more of the time in a space that is “beyond belief” – one that allows any thought to appear without requiring any thought to be believed.  Instead of navigating by “good ideas”, we tap into a deeper capacity for knowing, and we go from continually trying to steer our path to allowing ourselves to be guided, like a kid at an amusement park waking up to the fact that the car they think they’re driving is actually riding on a set of rails.

For me, this shift from trying to “make believe” that life and I are fixed entities that can be relied on to behave in certain ways to seeing that everything (including life and I) is made of thought and by nature fluid and changeable has been transformative.

Instead of spending all my time up in my head trying to create a better world, I get to enjoy the world as it is. And instead of trying to find the “right” things to believe, I get to believe everything and nothing, knowing that it’s possible to live in the space before thought and beyond belief.

Hopefully you get a sense of the freedom of this in reading about, but if not, just take some time this week to consider this:

It’s all made up, and it’s all OK.

With all my love,

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