Many people respond angrily when they’re told that all their problems are caused by their thoughts and beliefs. I felt the same when I first became aware of this concept. I had a deeply held belief – a story, nothing more – that I had been damaged by childhood influences, and that my confidence and inner peace had been irreparably damaged as a result.
Part of the reason I was so defensive of this story was because I had done so much reading about psychology, and was intellectually convinced that certain events in my childhood had caused certain neuroses. It all made perfect logical sense. I didn’t feel any emotional need to cling onto this story like some people do – because it gives them excuses, or someone to blame, or some other secondary benefit. No, I felt the need to cling onto my story simply because I was intellectually convinced that it was 100% true.
I kept clinging on to that story until I made an important discovery that changed everything. That discovery was this: perhaps it was all true, exactly as I had believed it. Perhaps my psyche really had been damaged exactly as I believed. Perhaps these kind of bad experiences and poor parenting have similar effects in everyone who experiences them, just as the textbooks say. It’s not that the story is necessarily untrue; it’s that I don’t need to have a story at all. The truth is, I did experience some traumatic events in my childhood, and they did have an effect on me. But it’s not true that I’m stuck with those effects. The idea that the damage is permanent, or that it requires years of energy work or – God forbid – talk therapy to clear it is just that – an idea. A story. A fairy tale. It is true as long as it continues to be believed.
Many enlightened individuals prove that these stories and all their ill effects can disappear in an instant as soon as the soul fully grasps the truth that it is whole and complete, and it does not need to cling to its baggage. However, like enlightenment itself, it’s a truth that tends to be obscured by its very simplicity.
Sydney Banks is one such gentleman who had many of the personal, emotional and financial problems we all face. Chief among them was troubles with his marriage. In 1973, he and his wife went to a marriage counseling retreat to try and sort out the problems, but it didn’t appear to be helping. Sydney was confiding all his problems to one of the other attendees – coincidentally a therapist by trade – and the man responded by telling Syd: “I’ve never heard such nonsense in all my life!”
Though the therapist was fully unconscious of the consequences of his words, somehow they sunk in on a deep spiritual level. Instantly, Banks knew that all the problems he’d just been describing were figments of his imagination – like the plot of a virtual reality video game, if you will. For that’s what life really is, in essence – a virtual reality simulation where we can’t possibly lose the game. We are really here, for sure – and so are the people around us. But it is an artificial state of disconnectedness from the Source, which we take on in order to rapidly further our evolution.
Banks spent the rest of his life bringing his message to the world. Distilled down, his message was essentially that there is nothing wrong with any of us. Life consists of three principles: mind, consciousness and thought. The first two are entirely whole, perfect and complete as they are, and our task on earth is simply to make our thoughts whole, perfect and complete also. Once this happens, the artificial stories we have sustained with our thoughts disappear, and along with them goes all of our imagined problems. It’s like typing an invincibility code into the video game – suddenly there are no dangers, no problems, no inconveniences. We realise that the video game is forever giving us exactly what we need to learn the lessons we came here to learn. All is well. All of this can happen in a single instant once we truly, deeply realise the truth of it.
Judith Sedgeman, a teacher of Banks’ three principles, describes her experience in a profound post on her website:
“SEEING is fluttering briefly into the emptiness before thought where you KNOW the power of thoughts forming, your own power to form thought, as a spiritual gift before form. I realized that I had previously memorized, pondered about, and repeated the definitions of the Principles as they were always described, thus innocently focusing on the formed word to understand them, rather than awakening to the formless, the true Principles, the spiritual energy of all life in creation, before the words. I had been reading the notes, but missing the music. That was one of the most exciting insights of my life, and it was a point of transformation…”
“The point is beyond words, in Universal energy we all share and through which we become our formed selves. Seeing the pure energy at the source, though, we have certainty that anything we see or know now could change, simply with the formation of new thought. Access to that reality is through stillness, through quietude, not thinking harder…”
“For me, in the instant I caught a glimpse of that, I SAW and KNEW the absolute absurdity of taking any thought seriously. No matter what. It’s no more possible to hang onto really beautiful thoughts than to drive away really ugly thoughts. They all pass naturally as the flow of formless energy continues to power us through life. We have to re-think them to “keep” them. When we SEE that for ourselves, we cannot possibly harm ourselves with our own thinking, any thinking. Because we KNOW we are living a dream brought to us by our unique imagination and the creative power of life. We know the dream is fleeting, evanescent, just images we create, passing across the screen of our minds, signifying nothing but the beautiful power to keep creating them.”
For most people, it won’t come as instantly and easily as it did for Syd. But until it comes, we can meditate on the truth of it, and live our lives knowing that all the three principles are sacred. Mind and consciousness are sacred because they are the essence of the divinity within us; the eternal, perfect creative force that existed before we came into mortal, physical form. Many of us have no trouble accepting this, but we have trouble realising that thought is equally sacred. Our task on earth is to make our thoughts whole, perfect and complete like the other two principles – and when we’ve achieved this, we’ve won life. All our problems are over and we’ve found heaven on earth.
So our minds should be like a sacred altar – purged of everything unclean, with no place for anything less than pure, holy, positive thoughts. Of course, this should not be read in any sort of dour, puritanical way, and we should certainly not berate ourselves or panic if we fall short. We can simply adopt the sacredness of the mind as an attitude to help us realise the true importance of taking control of our thoughts. The mind is truly sacred – take care of it.