The Intelligence Behind the System (#845)

Have you ever woken up after a nap or a good night’s sleep and suddenly life is just better than it was before you closed your eyes?

Most people think it’s because they’re rested, and that may well be true. But it’s also true that when you wake up, you’re usually not thinking the same thoughts as you were when you went to sleep. And when our thoughts change, our feelings change right along with them.

Imagine waking up from a nightmare. One moment you’re totally engrossed in battling off vampire zombies, and the next moment your eyes are open and the vampire zombies are gone. You may still have a little bit of adrenaline coursing through your veins, but once that works its way through your system, there are no lasting after effects. There’s no healing necessary from a bad dream. You just wake up and get on with your day.

In the same way, there’s no healing necessary from an unpleasant or insecure thought – you just wake up (to the fact of your thinking), and before long a new thought comes in and you have a new experience. While the new thoughts aren’t necessarily better than the old ones, the intelligence behind the system seems to move in the direction of deeper thoughts and greater mental health.

This pre-existing intelligence shows up in nearly every area of our lives. For example, my family and I recently visited Sequoia national park, and went to an exhibit on forest fires. It turns out that in the early part of the 20th century, technology and resources had gotten to the point where the number of forest fires in the National parks dropped to an all-time low. To the surprise of most of the people involved in this fire prevention and suppression effort, their “success” at controlling wildfires actually led to a less healthy eco-system.

While most of us think of forest fires as a bad thing, they are a part of the pre-existing intelligence of nature – one of the ways in which old growth is cleared away to make room for something new. Modern prevention takes this into account and allows for many naturally occurring wildland fires to run their course. They are closely monitored to prevent the fire from spreading into populated areas, but allowed to play out their role in the renewal of the forest.

Another example of this pre-existing intelligence is the human body. Our bodies are designed to heal themselves. If I cut my finger, I don’t need to get overly involved in the process of clotting the blood, creating scabs, or growing new skin. That’s the intelligence behind the physical system at work. While we think of fevers and diarrhea and vomiting as bad things, they are the body’s way of eliminating toxins in a hurry. It’s all built in to the design of the system.

As best I can tell, the same thing is true about the thought/feeling system. It’s designed to clear itself out all the time, and to continually return to quiet and clarity. It’s like a self-cleaning cat litter tray – the cat poops, the tray senses the extra weight of the poop, and the arm comes up and it clears the poop away.

Now the moment you understand that, you’re off the hook. Because the system is designed to take care of your mental hygiene, you don’t have to. And best of all, the pre-existing intelligence behind the system doesn’t care who you are, what you’ve done, where you’ve come from, or how worthy you are. Fresh, new thinking is just a natural part of how the system works.

Gravity is always on, and we know it. We don’t think of ourselves as an exception to the rule, and consequently, even if we don’t feel worthy we don’t walk around with extra weights in our shoes ‘just in case’. Similarly, our digestive system is always on, and it works just as well whether you have an IQ of 150 or an IQ of 95. Nobody thinks they’re not smart enough to digest food without outside help. Barring physical disabilities, we simply trust that the system is at work and for the most part we stay out of its way and let it do its job.

But when it comes to the thought/feeling system, many of us think we are the exception, and the intelligence behind the system either doesn’t exist or won’t be enough in our case. Our personal thinking is so bad, or our life experience or genetics so awful, that the inside of our head must work differently to everyone else’s. Few of us trust the self-regulating nature of the system to take care of itself, cleaning out the old, crappy thinking and replacing it with new thought.

Yet the beauty of the thought/feeling system is that it’s always on and it works the same for everyone. We feel our thinking, and the power of thought shapes our perceptions and creates our experience of life. New thought is always available, and will come to mind in the space created when you stop hanging onto your old thoughts.

Here’s another example. Imagine being in a very hot room on a cold, wintry day. Even though the heater might be going a mile a minute, you only need to open the window a crack and the cool air starts coming in. In the same way, you don’t need to go after every negative thought you’ve ever had in order to begin to experience more positivity. You simply need to open the window a crack to new thinking.

What if instead of trying so hard to fix your life, you recognize that the unfixed nature of our thinking is what allows for insight and fresh new thought to arrive in any moment?

Consider that we don’t even know what we’ll be thinking and feeling five minutes from now, yet we act and make decisions as though our experience of life is constant and continuous. Open up to the possibility that in just a few moments, you might feel completely differently to how you feel right now. It’s not personal, but it is natural. And when we allow the intelligence behind the system to do it’s job, our life gets simpler and our experience of life gets richer.

And to me, that points me once again to the kindness of the design…

With all my love,
Michael

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