I was speaking with a potential new coaching apprentice a few weeks back and he asked me a question I hear surprisingly often in one form or another:
“I really resonated with your books. I’ve always thought of myself as spiritual, and I get that I’m living in the feeling of my thinking, but I don’t really understand why you make such a big deal out of it. I mean, so what? How does it really help people to tell them that?”
Our conversation lasted for over an hour, but here is the essence of what we discussed…
For me, talking about “the 3 Principles” is a way of pointing to the fundamental spiritual truths behind life. What matters isn’t the point – it’s what somebody sees about life from within their own consciousness (i.e. an “insight”) that impacts them at a fundamental level.
So for one person, describing Mind as “the energy and intelligence behind life, whether in form or formless” sparks an interesting intellectual debate. For another, that same description directs their attention inside themselves and they begin to feel the life force moving inside their body. They feel directly connected with everything around them – a part of the same energy and whole. They report a sense that “the universe” has their back, and they let go of trying so hard to figure everything out and make things happen through willpower alone.
Similarly, talking about Consciousness as “the gift of awareness” can elicit a simple nod of conceptual agreement or an extraordinary spaciousness that comes with a beautiful feeling. That feeling of spacious aliveness reminds them of other times they’ve felt that way in the past, often when they were much younger and before they had so many theories about what life is and where it comes from. As they sit with it, they can feel their personal thinking start to quiet as if in meditation. Their sense of self expands, and before long it feels like all of life is unfolding inside them as much as their life is unfolding in the world.
I then dug out a Syd Banks quote from The Missing Link and asked him what he thought it meant:
“Our thoughts are the camera, our eyes are the lens. Put them together and the picture we see is reality.”
He was considerably more settled down by this point, and he took his time before responding.
“To me it suggests that we see what we think, not something that’s actually there. I always used to think that not thinking about my problems was going into denial, but actually, if our thoughts are the source of reality and not what we use to interpret reality, not thinking about my problems actually means they cease to exist.”
We both sat with that idea for a while. Part of my mind engaged in an intellectual debate with an imaginary audience member who wanted to argue about politics and the dangers of turning a blind eye to things. But my larger mind stayed engaged in the feeling between us – a shared sense of profound well-being and possibility.
“It seems to me”, he continued, “that if people could see even a tiny bit of this it would change absolutely everything, for them and for the world.”
I’ve had many such conversations over the years since I stumbled across the principles as a simple way of pointing people towards the elusive obvious nature of our personal realities. Not all of them go so deep, but surprisingly many of them do.
Nonetheless, there is a part of me that from time to time that really gets why someone could see sharing the 3 Principles as being of limited value. After all, some people will find their way home regardless of whether or not they ever read one of my books or come on one of my programs.
Others would remain lost in thought and stuck in their heads even while attending a TED conference where Jesus, the Buddha, Krishnamurti, Syd Banks, and a dozen other enlightened beings were taking twenty minutes in the spotlight to share their “ideas worth spreading”.
It’s at times like this that a story I originally heard several decades ago came to mind:
A teacher who had received much acclaim for her insights and discourses into the nature of the universe was asked by one of her students what difference she hoped to make in the world through her teaching.
After a few moments’ thought, the teacher replied that she had no such hopes.
“Those who can truly hear what I have to say don’t really need me to say it; those who can’t hear could listen until I was hoarse and could no longer speak without changing in the slightest.”
The student was confused.
“But if you can’t know that you will change the world by sharing what you see, why do you teach at all?”
The teacher smiled.
“Why does a bird sing?”
With all my love and every blessing,
PS – In the run up to Supercoach Academy, I’m interviewing potential coaching apprentices and mentees for the year ahead. If you’re interested, please visit www.michaelneill.org/apprentice to learn more and see if you qualify!
Some more Caffeine for the Soul
Today’s blog is excerpted from my book Creating the Impossible: A 90 day program to get your dreams out of your head and into the world…The week I began working on this book, I read a distressing (to me) article about how Mahatma Gandhi was estranged from his eldest son, Harilal, throughout his adult life. I immediately called my own first born, Oliver…read more
Today, I want to share a third thing that I have come to see over a nearly 30 year career as a teacher and coach. It impacts how I do everything I do with students and clients, and is perhaps best summed up in this story I first heard in a dialogue between Anthony de Mello, an enlightened Jesuit priest, and one of his students….read more
In part one, I shared a simple truth about human beings that flies in the face of a lot of self-help ideologies and neo-cognitive therapies:
We aren’t in control of our thoughts and feelings. Today, I want to point to what may seem an even odder piece of good news…