In your own private world there is nothing that matters but
what you think. There is nothing that matters but this moment. In fact, there
is nothing but these things. You can
fill your world with what you suppose other people think, or have anxiety over
what is to come in the future, but these things are still your thoughts.
What other people think cannot be in your universe. You have no access to their thoughts. All you have is what you perceive to be their thoughts. In your reality there can be no future. The future is only something you imagine.
Does this mean you should not be concerned about the “thoughts” of others, or the future? Of course not. You should be aware of the potential and likely social consequences of your actions- particularly those which entail direct harm to others, as well as significant breaks in the law (which also entails harm to others, for the most part). Surely you don’t want to be behind bars for silly reasons (though maybe you do. Otherwise, you may want a needle and some thread for your ass. You’re gonna need it).
To be concerned with the well-being of others can serve you well. It can be difficult, I know, to try to empathize with someone who is separate from you. It can feel like a lot of struggling and striving to try to understand another person.
But what if you choose to see this person as an extension of yourself—not of your objective identity (ego; how you typically identify yourself), but rather of your consciousness? Then many of those obstacles to empathy and love fall away. Subjectivity is the most direct path to love.
At the same time, however, you could argue that a lot of human suffering- that is, fear- arises in subjectivity. Well, I shouldn’t even put it like that; it is where suffering and fear exist. There’s no fear “out there”- it is a process within you, inside your consciousness. It is the same with love. Or perhaps you could say that it is your consciousness.
So in a sense you could say that in order to bust fear you should try to be more objective—at least, to an extent. All that stuff you have to do later that you’re running through your mind… they’re just tasks. There’s nothing inherently scary or burdening about them. You just make them that way.
I realize that fear isn’t inseparable from what’s “out there.” My fear level when I see a bear will probably be much higher than when I don’t see one (unless I’m considering saying “hello” to someone). That makes pretty sound sense.
However, do you know how many bears I’ve seen in the wild? Zero. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same is true for you. Most of my fears are related to stupid matters, like money and trying to please people. Unless I’m totally blind, the same seems to be true for many Americans. For most of us most of the time, fear is grounded in creations of the human mind (money has no meaning unless we agree to its meaning), and not in external reality. Pieces of paper shouldn’t be scary, but we sure as hell have made them that way. And this fear persists day after day after day.
On the contrary, if you have a confrontation with a bear, it should only be a few minutes before you escape by some miracle or get chomped. Maybe it is monstrous and understandably-scary events such as bear attacks and explosions that are typically responsible for PTSD, but for a lot of us the breakdown from stress is the result of daily, persistent self-destructive behaviors and mostly-imagined fears. Insanity lies in repetition.
Syncing Consciousness with Reality
The main point I want to drive is that anxiety and unpleasant thoughts are things that you create. I think almost constantly about things I want to share with other people—I even do this with pretty mundane tasks. It isn’t too enjoyable for me to think that way, and I know I don’t need to. Those people are not physically present right now, and for all I know they never will be again. I don’t end up sharing about 70-80% of the thoughts anyway.
Why, then, do I need to devote this moment- and the next, and the next, and the next- to them? Why can’t I instead enjoy what’s around me right now?
As for all this imagining about what other people think, how can you be certain that they think at all? To assume so is to perceive others as a reflection of your ego identity, which, though somewhat similar, they are not. Sometimes we have a way of thinking that people are more similar to us than they really are—that they have the same knowledge and capacity for understanding that we do. This might be lovely, but it doesn’t appear to be the case. Perhaps, when confronted with them, we need to acknowledge that such people reflect our own lack of knowledge and understanding in certain areas (then tell them to hit the road, because their presence will keep making us stupid).
Consciousness does not equate to thought. Thought is a manifestation of consciousness, just as the body is. Plus, thought is probably closer to consciousness than anything physical. However, thought is not consciousness itself. Thought, like the body and the emotions, can be both a means and a reflection of the elevation of consciousness.
That’s why we’re here, really—to use these tools belonging to the physical world to facilitate the evolution of consciousness. That is why it is useful to be actively engaged with this physical reality, no matter how “real” or not it is to you. It’s what we have right now, and right now matters more than anything else.
It can take some time to master the notion that you can’t know what other people think; you only have access to what you think other people think. When you are alone, just look around and look at yourself. You are the only person you will see there. Then you may realize, “Oh… There are no thoughts here but my own.” If there are objective people somewhere “out there” thinking about you, it doesn’t really matter. You can’t know that. You can only experience the effects of their thoughts, provided they choose to actualize those effects.
For instance, some crazy dude somewhere might be plotting my murder right now. Hell, that could be happening any time. Is that something I should be concerned about? No, I don’t think so. Signs of the event haven’t arisen in my reality other than my own contemplation of it. If people start telling me, “Hey, you gotta get out of town!” then I might just consider getting out of town. Now the possibility of a murder arising in my reality has increased.
However, I’ll still consider that this could be a bunch of cockamamey bullshit. In addition, “possibility,” in this case especially (though arguably all the time) is a construct that regards the future. I can only process what I perceive right now, and build my idea of “future” from there.
If the thought of being murdered keeps popping in my head again and again, do I have undue anxiety, or is this the larger consciousness system trying to warn me? Damn… I don’t know. It could be both. I might be trying way too hard to intellectualize this. Writing has a way of doing that.
Well, let me try something closer to myself. In the last few months, whenever I have an intention- a fairly strong desire to do something- that thought remains fairly constant in my mind, and it is also emotionally charged. The thought is persistent, and soon I start attending to it more consciously, and then more and more so until finally it happens, and becomes reality. By “attending to it consciously” I mean that instead of just letting it run through the daily thought mill on automatic, I start actually thinking about it. You could say that now I’m thinking about it critically.
For about the last year there’s something I’ve been wanting to tell one of my friends (I’ll spare the details). The thought of doing so has come on and off. The last couple weeks the script of what I’ve wanted to tell her has run through my mind, largely without deliberate effort. Then yesterday I finally consciously interrupted with, “What if I text her? Or call her? I will do it soon.” Finally, today just as I ran by her house she was walking outside, and I told her. Bam! Not the most elaborate example, but the point is that I put conscious intention into desire and got a synchronicity (which might not always happen but is wonderful when it does), and then leveraged (used) that synchronicity to produce the results I wanted. Desire realized.
Synchronicity, in this case, means that something I’ve been thinking about arose in my reality. That’s not the most elegant or complete way to put it, but it shall do for now. :P
So what about the murder dilemma? I feel that most of what happens to me I pre-expect on some level- even if not quite intellectually; however, these also tend to be things that I want and exert some control over. They certainly don’t go quite as I imagined them, but I know that deep down it’s what I wanted. In addition, I might just be exaggerating my imagined new-agey bullshit abilities (i.e. seeing the future). OooOOoOooh!
The murder question is tough to answer because nothing too undesirable has happened to me in a while; certainly nothing that I didn’t feel I had control over. Maybe I can’t answer the murder question because I’ve never been in that situation. I don’t know. I think I dug quite a bit of a rabbit hole for myself on that one. Then again, it might be useless to speculate about the theoretical anyway (but don’t tell my professors I said that… Actually, go ahead. It might be funny, which would be more worthwhile than their classes).
I think “your” consciousness (it’s not really yours) can be and is aware of events before they happen. Again, that doesn’t mean that you know what’s about to happen. But of course consciousness would know. It is what attracted the events in the first place. When someone I knew was murdered several years ago the thought played over in my mind on repeat, “I think she knew she was going to die that night. She knew.” It’s something I couldn’t explain intellectually to myself for a while, but now I’m starting to get a grasp on how that might be plausible. But again, that’s assuming that other people think at all (which you probably don’t, you dumb asshole).
Perhaps what is most important is that in this moment you do whatever excites you or appeals to you most. In this moment I feel most compelled to write these very words, so that is what I am doing. Yeah, there are about fifty other things I ought to be doing right now, but I’m not. And I could work myself up over that, but what for? They will get done at some point- or they won’t. My anxiety would not change them, except maybe to make those tasks more difficult. Those tasks don’t exist right now anyway, because they are not in front of me. They exist only in my mind.
Of course, when you’re overwhelmed by fear your ability to take the best and most congruent action in the moment is clouded. Fear makes you clumsy. It degrades your judgment and your abilities. You are apt to take actions based on that fear, and you will probably find that those actions were exaggerated or unnecessary. On the other hand, you may freeze and take no action, and then realize afterward that you very well could have.
One thing I’ve heard several times about intuition is that it doesn’t come with explanations. It will tell you, “Jump off the plane- now.” However, it will not say, “Jump off the plane- it’s going to crash in five minutes!” The latter is just your mind running on fear. In my experience intuition is too quick and in need of immediacy to have explanations attached. You just get the feeling to act, and then you act. That’s all. So perhaps if you were at risk for murder, the thought in your mind would be “Get out of town- now.” If you’re thinking, “Oh god I think someone wants to kill me I gotta leave!!” then that is more likely anxiety—unless, of course, traces of this possible-event have shown themselves to you. Note that I can’t be certain of these guidelines. I’m not too well-experienced in acting on inspiration or following intuition; my sixth sense (arguably, my bullshit-filter) is still in its infancy.
What I really want you to take away is that what happens in your own private world is all that matters. Behind a locked bedroom door it does not matter if the whole world thinks that what you are doing is wrong. What matters is what you, without fear and influence from those “outside” voices, think of what you are doing. Do you consciously know that your actions are morally acceptable? Are you hurting yourself or anyone else? Which parties benefit? You, them, or both? Not only what you think of it matters, but how you feel does as well. Does this feel right to you? Or is something in your gut telling you that this is wrong?
Differentiating between solid gut-feeling (intuition) and unnecessary, fragilizing fear can be difficult at first, but it can be developed over time with thought and effort. Determine whether this feeling is related to outside parties (e.g. what will people think of me?); if it is, then it probably is unnecessary fear.
If the thought and/or feeling is more purely of your own private world, then heed it. Your private world may be, in truth, inseparable from the “outside” world, but you still choose what rules it. You choose in every moment. Choose well, my friends- choose well.
(Written on 26 November 2014)