Letting go 05: What is reality, really?

We think we inhabit a physical world with fixed rules based on observable forces and objects. But when we dig into this solid, enduring reality we find that there is nothing substantial at its core.

Molecules reduce to atoms, atoms reduce to subatomic particles, subatomic particles reduce to…what exactly? Measurable quantities of energy, properties of mass and charge, probability functions?

And if we go in the other direction, turning our attention back onto the observer, what do we find there?

No one has come close to reducing consciousness to something more tangible or physically explicable. The experiential core of your individual reality defies a material explanation.

Many people have encountered and contemplated this intangible reality of ours and there’s a consensus of sorts that however we explain both the subject consciousness and the objects or phenomena known by consciousness, the two cannot be truly separate and distinct in nature.

Non-dualism rules

This used to be my thing, but I got a bit cynical when this “enlightened” perspective didn’t yield any apparent benefits to me.

Back then I didn’t understand that I could feel better just by making how I feel my top priority. I didn’t yet believe that nothing is more important than feeling good. I didn’t know that feeling good is good.

I know so much more now, and it’s funny and satisfying to see old knowledge I’d let gather dust suddenly fall into place as a component of my happier and more aligned perspective.

So what do I have to gain from my unusual perspective of reality? What does it benefit me to see beyond appearances? What can I do better or differently now that I know how things work?

Vibrational reality

The upshot of all this is a different causality. A different kind of cause-and-effect at work in reality.

When we wish things were different, we tend to look at our circumstances and ask “but how can all this simply change?” We imagine physical laws and physical reality governing all things. We regard manifestations as dominant.

But this leaves no place for the miraculous. It leaves no place for revelation. It leaves no place for providence.

In the Abraham-Hicks teachings we are told that there is a vibrational reality waiting for us that is a perfect match to everything we desire – with the caveat that our desires will never stop expanding and evolving.

The only thing missing from that vibrational reality is…us. We are the only component that freely chooses whether or not to allow vibrational change within us. We are the only part of our reality that can resist the pull of our desires and the outpouring of love and blessings that is God’s response.

We resist this pull by focusing on the unwanted and misaligned aspects of everything. This habit of thought keeps us feeling disjointed and out of harmony with what we desire. It turns an effortless journey into an unpleasant struggle.

But the solution is easy. We just have to learn to let go and allow ourselves to be drawn into the new reality that awaits. We just have to let ourselves be part of the tapestry God is weaving on our behalf. We just have to let ourselves be taken care of, and enjoy being passengers on the way.

What could be more valuable than a deep and moving feeling of appreciation and love in your heart? Well maybe you’d like to be rich too. But only because you associate being rich with having feelings of freedom, joy, trust, confidence, appreciation and joy.

The audacious claim in the A-H teachings is that by finding those feelings you will allow that wealth to come to you. It’s not just that: whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be added unto you.

That will require letting go of resistance, including perhaps the resistance in your old view of “how the world works”.

Letting go 04: Metaphysics? It’s the vibe!

I’ve been really unsure about the Abraham-Hicks concept of “vibration”.

They say that we live in a vibrational reality, that the underlying nature of everything is vibration, and we create by our vibration relative to God’s; but I’ve treated all this as just placeholder metaphysics without really engaging with it.

Because I’d have wanted to ask “what is it that vibrates? And how does it vibrate?”

But looking at it now, I know that’s not the point.

The point is that there is a deeper level to reality and creation operates on that level and according to those principles.

Accepting vibration is important because it helps us let go of physical cause-and-effect and shift our perspective to one of detachment and deliberate creation.

Vibration means giving ourselves permission to let go of limiting beliefs about how the world works.

But there’s more

But that’s not all. If we accept that vibration is the essence of everything we experience and think and feel, then vibration is what we are truly working with when we change our thoughts and feelings and manifest reality.

It’s not necessary to translate our thought into words and parse it and thresh it out. It’s not necessary to pay attention to the details of our reality. We can refine the process to a vibrational work.

It’s the vibe

From a vibrational perspective, God/inner being is pure positive energy and constantly expands to become a vibrational match to our desires.

Our physical self is a vibrational match to whatever we are focused on. The discrepancy between this vibration and the pure positive vibration of our inner being is what we call feelings or emotions and it serves us as guidance to our alignment.

Everything we desire, all we really desire is vibrational alignment with God within us. We can accomplish this alignment by following the guidance of our feelings bringing those two points of vibration together in us.

That’s the essence of this work: that is where we allow thoughts to come, where we enjoy the most wonderful satisfaction and appreciation and love, and where matching manifestations must follow.

Letting go day 02: detachment

Detachment is so strongly recommended and praised in most spiritual teachings that I took it to heart and practiced it at a young age.

Looking back, I was often successful. But after finding detachment I would run into inner turmoil and end up feeling depressed and confused.

In hindsight this is because I had some mistaken impressions of how detachment worked, but also because successful detachment brought me into contact with pockets of resistance.

Real detachment

Real detachment means no longer clinging to manifested reality. It goes hand in hand with feeling better from within, and requires us to be stable enough that we can easily find alignment with God/inner being.

It’s simply a light, buoyant sense of being not so focused on immediate experience. It’s the sense of having inner love and ease surround us and uplift us rather than looking for manifestations to make us feel better (they can’t).

When you stop looking for manifestations to make you feel better, you’re then letting go, allowing reality to follow its own changes while you remain comfortable and secure in your alignment with God.

It’s not a cold and aloof detachment, more like being a kid again. Kids don’t “get” the serious side of life that we fixate on as adults. They don’t share our morbid thoughts or grim outlook until we force it on them.

They take things lightly, because their own inner guidance is still mostly intact. That’s what we can aspire to in letting go: an easy, comfortable detachment from somber thoughts and clinging to reality.

And as a good omen, while writing this a bird crapped on my shoe…I see the humour in it, so long as I stop fretting about having to hurry home and clean it off!

Instantly change your reality

People often come to the Abraham-Hicks teachings because they want their life to get better. And the teachings promise that it will. They promise you can be, do, or have whatever you desire.

But then they point out that you only desire these things because you think you will feel good in the having of them, and it’s up to us to let ourselves feel good right now.

The path to a good-feeling reality is to feel good now; that’s the crux of “believe that you have received it, and it shall be added unto you”.

Proof

It helps to be able to prove to ourselves that this is indeed how it works.

So here’s some proof.

If you close your eyes and forget about who you are, where you are, and anything that needs doing, you will feel immediate relief.

That feeling of relief is proof that you can change how you feel by changing your focus. You instantly changed your reality to an experience of relief.

Not very impressive?

That may not seem like very impressive evidence. No doubt you opened your eyes, immediately remembered who you are, where you are, and what you’re meant to be doing, and the relief vanished.

But that’s just further proof, isn’t it? Bear with me…

Thoughts->feelings->reality

Your thoughts tell a story, and for many of us we’ve ended up telling a s*** story that makes us feel bad.

When you “forget” in meditation you stop focusing on those thoughts and your feelings immediately change.

That’s how easy, simple, and direct it is. Then you focus on your story again and feel bad. Your reality changes.

You need to practice. It took me two years before I was ready to meditate, because I’m a stubborn, intense, incredibly focused person who spent more than half his life digging himself into the deepest hole he could imagine.

I spent these past two years reading books and forums and listening to YouTube videos about the Abraham-Hicks teachings, and learning to find better feeling thoughts, tell a new story, soften my approach to contrast, and find relief no matter what.

Now I can meditate, and meditation is like letting someone lift you gently out of the hole you’ve dug. So that’s two years learning to stop digging before I was ready to let myself be rescued!

Relief is real

If you look out on your world with a mind full of relief, is it still the same reality you see?

If I feel appreciation for my home instead of frustration at it, hasn’t my reality changed?

At first these teachings sound like you can close your eyes, imagine a mansion, and then it will magically appear and you’ll live happily ever after.

But what it’s really like is closing your eyes, forgetting you don’t like your house, and then magically feeling better.

Better-feeling thoughts

Using meditation to forget my old story allows me to instantly inhabit a reality where I feel extremely good.

My old story was fairly intense, so it’ll take some practice to change it. But when I feel better from meditation I naturally gravitate to new story elements that reflect my good feelings.

And then I won’t have to forget my story in order to feel good, because my whole story – and my reality – will be about feeling good deliberately.

Inner citadel of the Self

Imagine yourself as a city, concentric rings radiating out from your core being.

Each ring is made up of thoughts, patterns of behaviour, and plans accrued through different stages of life.

Like Palmanova pictured above, they are very much layers of defence.

Renovation – make all things new

As we work at focusing on good-feeling thoughts, these rings or layers of defence are slowly dismantled and transformed.

The darkness and tension of wartime-footing is gradually overcome as we look for beautiful, wonderful things in our reality, confident that the more we embrace the good, the more good will come.

Persevere – don’t lose heart!

Remember that your core self right in the centre still has a lot of defences in place. The regime and fortifications against a world once thought to be hostile take time to release and undo.

That’s why it can sometimes be frustrating and disappointing to find negative thoughts appearing in the midst of new-found relief.

But don’t lose heart! These layers of defence do come to an end, and we dismantle them not by confronting and attacking but by finding relief and proving them unnecessary.

The inner citadel

As we get closer to the core we begin to see how these layers of defence came to be in the first place.

Right at the centre, with a young child’s natural sense of worth and appreciation, we first encountered unwanted aspects of reality and struggled to make sense of them.

We were “helped” to focus on the unwanted aspects as truth and unchangeable reality. Something had to give, and so we wavered in our sense of worth and expectation of good things.

That self-doubt turned our expectation of good into an expectation of…more of whatever was already happening. More unwanted, more doubt, more disappointment, more giving way to harsh realities.

The need for defences was born of no longer expecting good things, no longer thinking we deserve or are worthy of happiness.

That’s why learning to feel good is the answer. If we can learn to feel good despite unwanted circumstances then we rewrite that original conflict between our self-worth and “harsh realities”.

Our innate worth and goodness is not touched or tainted by unwanted circumstances. As we learn how our focus creates our reality, we learn that it is safe and sound to once again expect happiness and good things to come to us, because the promise of our own innate worth is self-evident, and we actively choose to no longer doubt it.

The Happiness Challenge

A couple of years ago I wrote a super-intense, psychologically-driven diet book.

The heart of the diet was making a commitment to only eat when you are genuinely hungry, and only eat enough to sate that need for physical nourishment.

The rest of the book was about understanding why this approach works, and finding clarity around our true motivations for eating.

If you commit to the rule of only eating for nourishment, then it immediately becomes clear how often we are eating for other reasons, typically as an escape from unpleasant emotions. Excessive body weight is then best understood as just a by-product or symptom of eating for these other reasons.

Isn’t happiness the same?

Today it hit me that my desire to feel good is very very similar to my approach to diet.

The underlying premise is that we are meant to feel good, and that we would naturally feel good if we weren’t doing something to interfere with this natural state.

Just like we would naturally arrive at a healthy body weight if we weren’t interfering with our appetite, using food and the experience of eating as an escape from feeling bad.

The most confronting moment in my diet journey was contemplating a future of never again using food as an escape. It was an incredibly daunting thought, but I gradually saw that it was the next logical step for me. And so I resigned myself to fundamentally changing how I related to food.

The same sense of a daunting, yet logical next step is now arising in the context of happiness. Because I know from experience that I can feel good simply by focusing on better-feeling thoughts like contentment and appreciation.

And I know in theory that my circumstances cannot prohibit me from finding better-feeling thoughts.

So the situation is simple: I can choose, if I will, to focus on better-feeling thoughts all of the time.

Making a commitment

It’s a bit like committing to get up early every morning and do some exercise.

The next logical step is that I commit myself to make better-feeling thoughts my rule, and view worse-feeling thoughts as exceptional, accidental setbacks.

Without this commitment I’m liable to continue haphazardly feeling good when I remember to, and making little overall change to my consistent emotional state.

At first it’s going to take some effort, because I’m accustomed to just letting my mind wander all over the place.

But to be honest I prefer an “all or nothing” approach over an incremental one.

If this process continues to mirror my diet journey I’ll likely break my commitment a number of times over the next few days and maybe weeks.

Yet each time I break it, I’ll reinforce my intention to stay on track.

Discovering what a happy life looks like

Part of what kept me so intensely motivated during my diet journey was that I had never really been in the “normal” weight range as an adult. I’d always been 10-20 kgs overweight.

So I was inspired by my desire and curiosity to experience life differently, to see what it was like to finally be in the normal BMI range.

Once I got there and maintained it for a year or so the inspiration ran out, and other demands like a new baby changed my eating habits.

The old resolve is hard to recapture, because I already accomplished that body weight goal. I’m not curious about it anymore.

But I am profoundly curious and inspired to see what life will look like when I am consistently happy and feeling good.

Happiness is harder to measure than body weight, but my experience has shown me that small improvements make a big difference.

I also have faith that how we feel is intrinsic to the creation of our reality and the shaping of our individual experience of life.

When you feel really good, bad or irritating or disappointing things cannot insert themselves into your reality anymore.

Feeling good….feels good!

Finally, it’s actually very sensible to learn how to feel good all the time, because feeling good feels good after all!

And on reflection it’s actually deeply silly that we spend so much time either fixating on things that feel bad, or simply letting our attention drift and gravitate into whatever old patterns we have already formed.

It feels bad to feel bad, so why do it if you don’t have to?

Repentance for the disenchanted

I succumbed to disenchantment at a young age and took for truth my fear that there was nothing magical or mysterious in this world.

That’s what led me to investigate religion. Not the outer form but the inner essence, the mystics and sages and saints who performed strange feats and spoke of an utterly different relationship with reality.

I divided life into the sacred and the mundane, the mysterious and the miserable.

Yet this very division was an error that made most of life a misery to me, a self-fulfilling prophecy of disenchantment as I tried to push back against the banality around me.

Turning mysticism inside out

All the mystics spoke of a transformed vision of reality. They went to the very heart of existence and their eyes were opened to the true beauty of all things.

I tried to follow the same path, but my experiences were fleeting, ironically because I was so desperate for that transformation.

Like a clingy guy who pushes people away with his neediness, I was so fierce in my disenchantment that even God couldn’t make me appreciate this “ordinary” existence.

Even now I take for granted my deep antipathy for modern life. I’ve written screeds that only touch upon my full disdain for modern ugliness and meaninglessness, projecting my own unhappiness onto an entire planet.

All the this time I never thought disenchantment might be my fault, something I was doing rather than being done to me.

Too many people talk about having to grow up and accept harsh realities of life, it can’t be just me that resents and despairs of it, right?

No, it’s not just me. But that doesn’t make it the truth either. A delusion can be shared but that doesn’t make it reality.

I’m the one who chose to see the world that way, and of course I found evidence to support my choice.

It may have been an unconscious choice but it was still a choice, and one I repeated over and over for years.

Forgiving reality

Forgiveness might not be the right word but forgiving reality for being mundane, crappy, ugly, and bland goes some way to realising that maybe it isn’t like that after all.

Repentance might not be the right word either, but perhaps we disenchanted cynical and disillusioned people can accept that this very attitude of ours is what keeps us stuck in an unwanted reality.

I’m the one focusing on the ugliness and banality around me. I’m the one telling a story about a bleak and empty world. I’m the one wishing life was different and constantly reminding myself “but it’s not!”

I’m the one who approached mysticism as a way to transform the unwanted reality that I myself created.

And I’m also the one who undermined every moment of transcendence, quickly checking to see if things had “changed” yet.

In the Abraham Hicks material that’s called “keeping score” and it tends to undermine any actual progress in feeling better.

Feeling better about life

There’s a subtle yet profound difference between clinging to a problem and receiving a solution.

Often people sound like they are wanting a solution when in fact they just want to reiterate their problems.

But after a while it becomes obvious.

It’s obvious to me that my focus has been firmly on the “problem”, my unwanted aspects of life.

I’ve lived and breathed disenchantment, mistaking it for truth and reinforcing my own powerlessness and despair.

And how was that working out for me?

It’s time to take a deep breath and appreciate that the disenchantment was in my thoughts alone.

I create my reality, and by focusing on thoughts of disenchantment and banality I created more of the same.

But I also have the power to change my focus. I can find thoughts that match the enchantment, wonder, and excitement I have yearned for.

I can re-enchant reality as easily as finding thoughts that feel good to me.

A good place to start would be the exact opposite of the unwanted. If I don’t want disenchantment and banality then what do I want? What story would I prefer and to tell?

And if the answer is “I don’t know” then that right there was the real problem all along. Not reality, not banality, not other people, but my own unfamiliarity with the stuff of my desires.

Can you be too positive?

No one has ever accused me of being too positive.

But I’m hoping that will change as I make more progress in my journey from cynicism to optimism happiness.

Last night I swept away some old beliefs that had sat like a deep chasm across my inner landscape.

My prior attempts at being more positive were hitherto hemmed in by that old negativity — I was convinced of a threatening malice in my world, and of my own powerlessness to defend against it.

Now that it is gone – now that I’ve ceased to keep it alive – the relationship between my thoughts and my feelings and subsequent experience of life is clearer than ever before.

It is obvious now that I should focus on finding thoughts that feel good, rather than struggling to control or manipulate external circumstances – since the existence (and my interpretation) of those circumstances hinges on the quality and direction of my thoughts.

So how do we change our thoughts?

The mechanism is obscure, but we do it all the time. We constantly reach for, and accept, thoughts about everything, but we rarely exercise our ability to hold back and be selective about the thoughts we accept.

Reflexivity: thinking about thinking

Today the weather is hot, and the first thought that comes to mind is that the heat is unpleasant.

But I don’t have to stay with the first thought that comes to mind. I can choose one that feels better: it’ll be over soon. The sun is so beautiful. It’s great beach weather. I love how variable the weather is here. I’m so glad we don’t have terrible heat-waves anymore. I love how bright it is outside!

You can tell for yourself which thoughts feel better, and how much better they feel.

If you choose a thought that feels better instead of one that feels worse, you have successfully changed your thoughts and hence your feelings, and hence your reality.

So far so simple.

But what might happen in the midst of choosing a new thought is that you find yourself thinking about this process itself.

You might think: this is stupid, you can’t change anything just by thinking about it.

Or: this is hard work, I don’t want to have to do this all the time.

What’s happened is that choosing a more positive thought has brought out of hiding higher-order thoughts or beliefs.

And it turns out that these higher-order thoughts or beliefs also determine how you feel, and hence your reality.

So try as you might to feel better about the weather by changing your thoughts, if you have higher-order thoughts that say positive-thinking is a load of wishful thinking and self-delusion, you will continue to feel bad and nothing much will change.

The good news is that you can change your thoughts about positive-thinking itself just as easily as you can change your thoughts about the weather.

So can you be too positive?

Hence the title of this post: the idea that you can be too positive, or that being positive is a superficial attempt to delude oneself, these are themselves beliefs or thoughts that determine how you feel, and hence your reality.

There is no such thing as “too positive”, because the thought of being “too positive” is not a positive thought.

If you think there is such a thing as “too positive”, you are, by definition, being too negative.

Stages of positive thinking

My journey into positive thinking has gone through a couple of different stages so far.

Decrease negatives, increase positives

In the first stage my focus was mostly on feeling less bad.

I tried to soften the impact of my most negative thoughts on a number of subjects, and at the same time inject more optimism into my life on other subjects.

The biggest positive of all was the thought that this positive-thinking stuff might actually work!

I liken this stage to being a beginner at any skill or hobby: a beginner tries to decrease the number and frequency of their most egregious mistakes, the kinds of mistakes that make them want to give up entirely.

At the same time, a beginner benefits from being inspired, star-struck even, by the greatest examples in their field. These positive examples inspire hope and optimism.

But a beginner really has no idea of the scope of the skill. They can’t even imagine how much time or effort will be required to gain proficiency. Even if they think the task is enormous, they really have no idea how enormous it is.

Watch your thoughts systematically

Eventually I had the feeling that I wasn’t making as much headway as I would like.

I’d seen some genuine improvements, but they were more haphazard than the material suggested they should be.

I mulled on this for a while. It had been perhaps six months since I really started, six months of unsystematic practice.

Finally it dawned on me that I really needed to work at this. When they said “every thought is either making you feel better or feel worse”, they really meant every thought.

I decided to make the effort to focus on every single thought, daunting though this may seem.

This is just like when the beginner realises they must seriously apply themselves in order to gain skill. It’s all very well to dabble in a skill or art and see occasional improvement following occasional inspiration, but eventually you want to see your efforts rewarded. You want to make real progress.

And the effort paid off rapidly.

I very quickly observed that indeed each and every thought either contributed positively or negatively to my emotional state, with a 1:1 relationship between thoughts and feelings.

The greatest byproduct of this close attention to thoughts was to rapidly reduce the severity of my negative thoughts.

Paying such close attention, my mind suddenly made the connection between the negative thought and the negative feeling, and automatically softened the thought accordingly.

Wanting more

It’s been a couple of weeks since I started observing my thoughts like this, and the results were impressive.

But gradually I began to feel as if I’d plateaued.

It’s great to reduce the severity of negative thoughts and feelings, but the absence of negativity is not the same as positivity.

Feeling neutral isn’t the same as feeling good.

Breaking the feedback loop

The explanation for this plateau appears to be a kind of feedback loop.

Reducing negatives is great, but if we are consistently focused on external reality as our point of reference, we will never advance beyond that point.

In learning a skill we would always be exposed to a teacher and peers who are more advanced, pushing us to improve our own performance.

But in positive thinking, your experience always reflects your own thoughts. Therefore, the answer is to let the quality of our thoughts improve without regard to external reality.

Don’t let external reality be the determinant of your thoughts or feeling. In practice this might mean taking the time to “meditate” and allow thoughts and feelings to improve, trusting that external reality will eventually catch up.

Otherwise, we will keep repeating the same quality of thought over and over, and experiencing the same quality of experience over and over.

Breaking the feedback loop is as easy as letting go of that focus on external reality. Why let the momentum of past experience determine how you feel?

 

What is reality, really?

The basic premise of “positive thinking” is that “your thoughts create your reality”.

One of the obstacles I’ve encountered is a narrow or limited interpretation of “reality”.

In the beginning I think I intentionally partitioned “the reality shaped by my thoughts” off from “actual reality”, because…well let’s face it: positive thinking material sounds like cringe-worthy new-age rubbish.

But at the same time I knew from philosophy of mind and psychology that our beliefs do shape our mood and our experience, and that our perceptions are highly malleable.

I also knew from personal experience that a change in belief or perception can have results that seem nigh-miraculous.

And because of my broader spiritual and metaphysical beliefs, I don’t have any trouble with the idea of actual miracles either.

But still, I maintained a kind of distinction between the “reality” I was seeking to change, and actual reality; and this distinction is problematic.

It’s problematic because if I can conceive of a reality apart from my all-encompassing experience of reality, then I can have thoughts and beliefs about that “real reality” that contradict or undermine what I’m trying to achieve in changing my thoughts.

So long as I hold on to a distinction between subjective and objective reality, there’s going to be some wriggle room or ambiguity in my work.

It’s the same as my recovery from my auto-immune disease. For a long time I investigated the psychogenic aspect of it, while still refusing to commit to a psychogenic cause. Once I finally accepted that the cause was psychological, only then did I make progress in overcoming the pain.

I only improved once I chose to believe that my physical symptoms were an expression of psychological stress.

So what is reality?

It’s a tautology, but I can’t experience anything beyond my own subjective experience.

Etymologically, “reality” comes from “res” which means “thing”.

Reality is just “all the things”.

We can’t disprove the subjectivist position that things only exist in our own experience of them, nor the skeptical position that we cannot know anything about reality beyond our experience of it, nor even the solipsist position that all reality might well exist only within my own mind.

Philosophers can argue about it, but we aren’t really looking for a philosophical position here.

What we’re looking for is the relationship between our thoughts, our feelings, and “all the things” of our experience.

What we want is to feel better, with the understanding that we have the power to change our feelings by changing our thoughts, and that this in turn will change our experience.

There’s only one “thing”

The testimony of mystics is that “all the things” are really just one thing — the expression and manifestation of a single divine being.

Our suffering and misery as humans comes from the identifying or “reification” of the one into many, and the attribution of independent existence and power to those many things – ourselves included.

Independence and separation give rise to thoughts of abandonment, of harm, of things going wrong. The moment we start thinking that we exist in a world of isolated things, we lose the freedom and grace of the divine spirit within us.

The metaphysical significance or “divine plan” behind delusion, sin, and evil varies between religions, but the important point is that it isn’t real, it doesn’t have independent existence; the divine alone exists.

When we think of reality as something “out there” with independent existence, and maybe (as my previous post explored) malicious or callous or corrosive to our well-being, we suffer.

We suffer just from thinking of it that way, let alone shifting our perception to seek out evidence that it is that way.

If I view “all the things” as existing out there, with their own independent existence and power, and I myself striving and struggling against them, then of course I feel bad.

What are “all the things” really? They are aspects of my experience, objects of my consciousness, forms and ingredients of this mysterious stream of awareness.

Do they really have their own existence, their own power?

Two realities become one

All my negative experiences have in common a kind of deference to external reality and power, a falling-back into the thought of things “out there” that aren’t the way I want them to be.

I view things as having their own existence and power, and therefore I imagine potential negative consequences if I don’t respond to them in the correct way.

Providence, grace, insight, wisdom, there are various names for it in different traditions, but altogether there’s a common understanding that the power of the divine, the one thing that actually exists, transcends and entirely overcomes the flawed sense that I’m an isolated human being struggling in a multifarious universe.

That’s why detachment, recollection, withdrawal from “worldly” concerns is a prominent theme in mysticism. But not for its own sake, only to allow us to come into alignment with the one.

In terms of “positive thinking” that means changing our thoughts to allow for providence or divine help to come to the fore in our experience, filling in all the gaps and drawing us into the flow that has always awaited us.