Friday, September 19, 2008

A Dialogue on Positive and Negative

I would like to welcome everyone to our ongoing blog, which serves as an introduction to the Course of Training on Living in the Truth of the Present Moment. If you are new here, I recommend that you be sure to read the initial entry "Experiencing the Truth of Being," which is now primarily titled "An Introduction" and which is the entry at the bottom of the blog, as it was the first written and posted here. At the end of the "An Introduction" entry can be found a partial list of topics that are covered in the lessons of the course offered by email.

The blog is intended to be a place where anyone on the Internet can come at any moment in order to tune into positive energy. It is offered freely, and anyone in the whole world is welcome to read it and to benefit from the practical application of the universal principles presented. Those who are interested in going ‘beyond the blog’ can write for information on the course by email.

In the "comments" to our last entry was a fascinating dialogue between Anonymous and myself. It was fascinating to me because of the level of questions Anonymous was asking. Most people don’t tend to ask questions on that level of understanding.

I've decided to bring that dialogue out and make it the current entry to the blog. This way more people can have the enjoyment of reading it, while those who first read it in the comments section can now give it more attention. Judging from feedback, it seems that a lot of truly relevant stuff was touched on that resonated with a lot of people.

Anyway, here is the dialogue, with some of my own response slightly expanded upon for this posting.

Anonymous wrote to ask:

"How delightful to discover you are 'back'!

"I would like to offer a comment, something I've been contemplating. It has to do with being in the present moment, and being 'positive'.

"The more I find myself resting in the present, the more the present reveals itself as being neither positive nor negative. It seems to embrace both equally. If I am in the present, and someone brings up something 'negative' from the past, that seems 100% equal with someone else's 'positive' comment about the present. I don't feel any greater need to run from the one than to run toward the other. Why would I want to run the length of duality... to get where? Besides, the closer I look, the less I see a difference between the so-called past and the so-called present...

"At any rate, I've noticed some spiritual folks sound overly sugary because of the desire to avoid voicing anything too 'negative'. Not saying there is anything wrong with this, if they like it. But isn't it a bit unauthentic? Again, not a problem per se. Unless one really wants the Truth. How will one be able to see Truth without going beyond these dualities?

"...Offered in a spirit of discovery, with interest in your response, if you have one..."

Hi Anonymous. I wonder if you take the course, and if you do, who you might be. Most people who take the course don't post anonymously, so I'm just expressing a little genuine human curiosity. Of course, impersonal works as well as personal for me, and as someone with your mind probably already understands, there isn't much difference anyway.

Your "comment" was very interesting to me. As you know, I took a couple of days to ponder my response, in case you wondered about the apparent hesitation. I actually contemplated your comment (and would advise everyone else to do the same) for you express an expanded perspective in your question, which you presented so clearly for the rest of us.

As a 'refresher', this excerpt contains the essense of the question: "If I am in the present, and someone brings up something 'negative' from the past, that seems 100% equal with someone else's 'positive' comment about the present. I don't feel any greater need to run from the one than to run toward the other. Why would I want to run the length of duality... to get where? Besides, the closer I look, the less I see a difference between the so-called past and the so-called present..."

Run the length of duality? Where do you come up with something like that? What a great phrase. I felt that the entire quoted excerpt was a stroke of brilliance. What do you do in your day job, anyway?

Anyway, hopefully you get that I hear your question and I think it is a significant one. Because, in reality, in the Truth of the present moment, it is exactly as you say so splendidly: "I don't feel any greater need to run from the one than to run toward the other."

The answer to your question--and from my perspective, the answer is simply the other side of the question; they are both in essence the same process. In the genuine, heartfelt question, the answer becomes intuitively obvious.

As you say, negative and positive are simply two opposite ends of the same spectrum. The spectrum itself includes the whole gamut. All opposites are contained in the realm of polarities. This entire physical world is based on the play of polarities: light and dark, good and evil, feminine and masculine, and so forth. One polarity cannot in itself exist without the other.

The highest snow-covered peaks of the mountain exist simultaneously and concurrently with the lower, more densely vegetated levels of the same mountain. There would be no recognition or appreciation of light if there were no darkness. There would be no lightheartedness if there were no seriousness or heaviness. There would be no expansion if there were no contraction.

So there is the polarity of negative and positive. If we truly live in the state you so eloquently describe, then everything is absolutely fine in our own life, and we read the blog and lessons for the simple exalted enjoyment of doing so--having nothing left to attain, yet delighting in the reminders.

A cynical attitude indicates something still lurking to be cleaned out in the purification process. The Truth does not exist in cynicism, and when our mind becomes clearer and our awareness more refined, we are free from all forms of cynicism, sarcasm, and blame.

The Truth exists in a lighthearted affirmation.

Yet, if perchance a person lacking your understanding started feeling glum, or blue, or agitated, or irritated, or angry, or accusative, or defensive, or depressed, or empty, or useless, or anything else of a negative or contracted nature--then it is good to understand the principle that we have the choice at each and every moment to focus our attention on either the negative or positive.

So, you are right, they are both equal, and for a person who lives established in equality-consciousness, there is no reason to even think in terms of positive or negative. Like you say, why would you want to run the length of duality? I love that.

Before a person attains equality-consciousness, which includes most of us at this point, it is good to remember that we have the choice of whether to see, experience, or describe anything either negatively or positively. The choice is ours from one moment to the next.

As someone already mentioned in a previous comment, it was Shakespeare who said, "Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." It is obvious in his writings that the bard had a great deal of understanding regarding human nature and the natural laws governing the ways things work.

Looking back, I see that I did not fully answer the last part of the question from Anonymous, which said: "I've noticed some spiritual folks sound overly sugary because of the desire to avoid voicing anything too 'negative'. Not saying there is anything wrong with this, if they like it. But isn't it a bit unauthentic? Again, not a problem per se. Unless one really wants the Truth. How will one be able to see Truth without going beyond these dualities?"

Well, I did address the part about going beyond dualities. We go beyond dualities so that we can encompass the whole, the totality, and not be limited to a partial understanding of the existing reality. As long as we have an attachment to one polarity and an aversion to the other, that is when we start trouble for ourselves and others.

I know what you mean about folks sounding too "sugary." I don't like that syrpy stuff either. It probably comes down to who you are describing as "spiritual folks," because some so-called spiritual folks are lost in sugary melodramas, and so we have to ask ourselves, what makes them "spiritual folks" after all?

As far as who is truly a "spiritual person," I'd vote for one who sees the play of Consciousness in everything, and the same divine Awareness in each and every individual. Otherwise, what makes a person "spiritual" anyway? If they don't see the divine play in everything equally, then what is so spiritual about them?

The reason that there is an emphasis on positive statements rather than the negative mantras of many, is that our words affect us as well as other people who hear them. When we focus on the negative, it triggers the habitual negative reactions and patterns of others.

When we choose to focus on the positive instead, it sends positive suggestions out into the world, expanded perspectives of conditions and events, more pleasant ways of seeing and understanding situations and other people. This opens and expands us through the power of new possibilities, rather than the contracting cringe we get from hearing or reading about someone's limited point of view or egotistical complaints, or someone blaming others for their own experience.

The state of appreciation is lighter and more expanded than the state of blame.

Anyway, just a couple of thoughts. Today is a special day for all of us, as Lesson 2 is being sent out for the first time. We have a lot to look forward to.

Anonymous wrote back to say:

"The 'original' Anonymous here.

"Thank you for your answer. I delighted in reading it.

"I took your course before, and graduated. I’m not enrolled now.
You were curious about not using my name. In fact, I have to admit it’s a reflection of my proclivity for avoiding the negative, based on past cyber experience. (Yes, I know, how ironic. Undoubtedly the universe is laughing…)

"You addressed part of my question, to the extent that it was a question. Basically you’re focused on what is useful 'before' a person attains equality-consciousness. We can choose how our thoughts will create our personal reality. That’s practical. We can also choose how we affect others. That’s compassionate. If we’re going to live in a personal reality, why not a pleasant one, right? As you say, it is 'good' to remember this.

"Or is it? Suppose I'm more focused on attaining equality-consciousness than on creating a more pleasant dream (assuming equality-consciousness is something to be 'attained'). Then remembering I have a choice loses much of its salience. Its value is overshadowed by the fact that it might just keep me locked into my perception of duality.

"I tend to get in trouble with analogies. They never seem to hold up all the way. But here’s one anyway. You’re speaking to someone who lives in a desert where oxygen is considered 'good' and hydrogen is 'bad'. And he’s thirsty. Because you believe in it, you teach him to choose good and reject bad. But in the process, you effectively keep him from being able to make the water he really needs.

"To me, it's about the focus of guidance. Is it encouragement to do practices that will keep the mind in a habitually positive state, or is it on looking for what is beyond that? We may all agree choosing the positive has practical benefits. At the same time, I saw that focus stunt my own growth in awareness for years. Cementing the belief that is good to be positive is, it seems, one way to prolong sadhana."

Hey, here's another message from "the 'original' Anonymous." How cosmic is "the original Anonymous" anyway? That’s a whole contemplation in itself. Before long, we'll have to have an Anonymous #1, Anonymous #2, Anonymous #3, and so on. Line up and choose your number, lol.

Anyway, I do appreciate this particular Anonymous, as I gushed in my last response. And "the original Anonymous" came up with some other good points, as before.

First of all, in response to your own recent post, I must reject your analogy of the man in the desert dying of thirst, for I cannot relate to being one to tell him that one element of water is "good" while another is "bad." You were right, you do "get in trouble" with analogies. In this case it does not work at all. I am not very big on labeling things as "good" or "bad." Those are judgment calls. One person’s "bad" just might be another person’s "excellent."

Positive and negative, however, are facts of nature--polarities that exist so that the world as we know it can manifest. They are not a matter of someone’s judgment, except in the sense that we can determine (even in advance) whether a condition or experience has a positive or negative effect on us.

One of the primary dharmic principles referred to in the lessons is to do whatever is practically necessary to take care of ourselves on all levels--physically, emotionally, mentally, and on a psychic level as well. I could accept your analogy when speaking of, well, the fundamentalist Catholic Church, for example—and their promotion of the doctrines of sin and guilt--or even Islamic extremists—who apparently feel it’s their way or the highway--but I cannot see how it could apply to the Course of Training on Living in the Truth of the Present Moment. In our course, the man would simply be taken some water, or advised to get some asap. He wouldn't be told the elements of water are good or bad.

Speaking of the course, herein might lie the source of your confusion -- well, I can see that you're not confused, per se, perhaps, so let's say: your question.

You revealed that you are a graduate of the original course. This being the case, you are coming from a place of one who experienced all levels of the teachings available at that time. So in a sense, you are asking me why are we going through the basic and elementary principles of focusing on being "positive" instead of "negative" when in truth the secret to liberation is to go beyond polarities altogether.

Here I will repeat that it is my intention for the blog to be a place of positive energy that anyone can tune into at any time, whether they take the course or not. It is offered freely to all who will simply make the effort to read it and to make use of the principles outlined.

Even though we use the blog as a way to stay currently in touch, and for sharings and questions and answers in the "comments," we do not in the blog go into the same depth exploring the highest principles that are covered in the lessons of the course.

There are certain things that first need a strong foundation of understanding before they can be fully experienced or comprehended. In a sense, Lesson 12, for example, cannot be fully understood or appreciated until the first 11 lessons have been studied during the 6 months leading up to it. The course has a method to its madness.

You might go to the very bottom of the blog, at the end of the original, "Introduction" entry, and read the list of topics covered in the lessons. Note particularly "The Inner State," "Love is Where the Heart Is," "God in Human Form,""Living in Your Own Secret Heaven," and "Entering the Stillness."

If you were with us in our exploration of these particular sections of the course, you would have the answers to all your questions.

Of course, in order to get there, you have to go through the early lessons regarding being positive instead of habitually and mechanically negative.

My experience as teacher and observer over the the 50 years is that most people, regardless of how "advanced" they are "spiritually" -- "spiritual folks" as you say -- need to be reminded, even trained, to replace all their habitual negativities with something more expansive. Otherwise they are bound to these negativities.

You are right, it is best to live beyond polarities altogether, but the truth is that this is not the way most people live. And if we are negative habitually and mechanically, without even knowing what we are doing, then we need to take a look at what we are doing and admit what does and what does not work.

My experience is that until a person can be positive and expanded at least as easily and as often as being negative and contracted, knowing about the "higher spiritual principles" does no practical good anyway. It is all merely philosophy and theory until it can be applied in daily life. Obviously you already know this, or we would not be engaged in this dialogue.

Therefore, when given a choice, I'd go with what is pleasant and expansive for everyone, instead of creating or maintaining habitual negativities and limitations that have an adverse effect on ourselves or those around us and in relationship to us.

I would like to thank "the Original Anonymous” again for his contribution and participation in a most enjoyable dialogue. It has given all of us something to deeply contemplate for now.

Remember to approach each moment of life as playfully as possible, especially if you wish to enjoy life.

For information about D. R. Butler's new Course of Training, write: drbutler.course@gmail.com

8 comments:

rico said...

It has occurred to me that my attention and where I put it has profound consequences on what is experienced as my life manifests. As I have been told many times and have verified in my own experience, I create my life experience according to what I think. Or to be more accurate, what thoughts I chose to focus my attention on. It seems to me that thought in and of itself does not necessarily create anything. Thoughts can arise and subside at any time for any reason. But unless I give a thought my attention it usually just evaporates. Sometimes a particular thought may be persistent but if I chose to ignore it, deprive it of my attention, it eventually goes away. In light of this it appears that it is attention and how it is directed, focused, that is the creative energy not thought.

jimi said...

"I would like to thank “The Original Anonymous” again for his contribution and participation in a most enjoyable dialogue."

Funny that you say "his". I read all the posts & just assumed it was a woman. I never had a doubt. The other funny thing is that it doesn't matter.

Blog on, brother!

Anonymous said...

I am confused by your statement "The Truth does not exist in cynicism." I am not a cynic or lover of cynics. But I thought that Truth (as opposed to truth) existed in everything and everyone and everywhere.
thank you in advance for your clarification

ari said...

I took a psychology class 20 years ago and remember one defintion that has always stood out for me. That is projecting: attributing one's own thoughts and behavours to others. It's always fascinated me. My wife and I had a "discussion" the other day. I had told her that her she was more materialistic then I was and if she cut down on her purchases she wouldnt have to work so much. The next day, after some refection, she told me I was "projecting" myself on her. (I wondered if she snuck a peek at the second lesson?).

So my question becomes: How do you know when your projecting yourself on someone or your pointing out something valueble to someone else based on your seemingly unbiased evalutation?

D. R. Butler said...

This 'Anonymous' has referred to this paragraph in the current entry:

A cynical attitude indicates something still lurking to be cleaned out in the purification process. The Truth does not exist in cynicism, and when our mind becomes clearer and our awareness more refined, we are free from all forms of cynicism, sarcasm, and blame.

So, to answer the question in the previous comment, the Truth does indeed exist "in everything and everyone and everywhere," as you say. The Truth is the pure Consciousness that pervades and permeates the entire cosmos this very moment.

When I say the Truth does not exist in cynicism, it is because some people lose themselves in cynicism. When you visit, for example, one of these sites for people against some spiritual teacher or path -- if you can imagine such a thing -- most of the comments are of a very cynical, sarcastic, or blaming nature, and often all three combined.

When we get lost in cynicism, sarcasm, or blame, we lose touch with the Truth.

It is in this sense, this context, that I say that the Truth does not exist in cynicism.

Thank you for your question.

D. R. Butler said...

What a great question from Ari. Ari, I am very pleased with you that you have come up with this question.

The question is how to tell when we are projecting our own feeling, attitude, or quality onto another person, and when are we only pointing out something to them that they might want to understand about themselves in their own quest for freedom and growth.

If everyone understood the answer to this question, all their relationships would be upgraded at least 7 notches.

This question is actually one I have been questioning, exploring, examining, observing, and contemplating for about 40 years now, when I first became aware of the concept. How do you tell the difference between one and the other? It is a profound and significant question.

Here is as exact as I have gotten it to this point: We do project our own qualities, traits, expectations, and anticipations onto others, and see these things in them when it actually has nothing to do with them.

For example, Fred is angry at Suzie, and relating with thinly-disguised passive-aggressive hostility, yet instead of recognizing it in himself, he sees instead that Suzie is angry at him, and then he justifies his hostility towards her since she is (unjustifiably of course) angry with him in the first place -- although she actually isn't anything of the sort, and the whole thing is all Fred's own projection. He would be better off recognizing and taking responsibility for his own anger and subtle hostility, instead of projecting it onto Suzie.

On the other hand, Suzie might be in a bad mood, and be making hostile, provoking jabs at Fred, being sarcastic and contrary in response to anything he says or does, so finally Fred decides to point out to Suzie what she is doing. Hopefully she will be open to hearing what he has to say, and does not only get more defensive with increased hostility for his bringing it to her attention.

Both of these things happen. How can we tell which is which?

The answer lies in our own feeling. The trick is being honest with ourselves about what we are actually feeling.

The first way, where Fred projects his anger and hostility upon Suzie, and blames it on her, he is feeling angry about her anger, hostile about her hostility, and is filled with blame and accusation: "This conflict and discord is all her fault." This is a distinct feeling, negative and contracting in nature. If we are honest with ourselves, it is unmistakable. If we are open to seeing the truth of the moment, there should be no doubt about what the feeling is.

The second way, where Fred is only pointing out to Suzie that she is being more angry and hostile than she probably realizes, he himself feels no anger, no hostility, and most importantly, no blame, no accusation. He is only pointing it out to her, without personal attachment, without any feelings about it, in the event that she is open to hearing how she is being in case she wishes to switch to a more pleasant and harmonious feeling herself.

When we are projecting something onto another that has nothing to do with them, we ourselves are caught up in contracted and negative feelings about it. We feel like something is wrong, and that it is the other person's fault. We are filled with blame.

When we are objectively pointing out something about another in hopes that they will openly hear it for their own good, and for the good of the relationship, we are not attached to the consequences of our words. If the other hears us, great, if they don't, well, probably later they will see what we were talking about. Either way, we have no feeling about it. We are neutral. There is no negativity, no contraction, and most importantly, no blame.

Once we get that the whole answer lies in our own inner feeling, then our understanding and awareness of many things goes to an entirely new level.

Thanks again, Ari, for your great question.

D. R. Butler said...

Rico said: "Sometimes a particular thought may be persistent but if I chose to ignore it, deprive it of my attention, it eventually goes away. In light of this it appears that it is attention and how it is directed, focused, that is the creative energy not thought."

Good realization Rico.

It is indeed attention that controls everything in life. There is an entire section of the course titled, "Attention, Conscious Intent, and Will" (see partial list of sections below, in original entry.)

We will explore the whole topic in a way that the power of attention will become clear to us in ways that we can use it consciously instead of unconsciously, as most people currently do.

The average person, amazing as it seems, has no idea at any point where his attention is focused. It simply leads him around, and he follows like a dog on a leash.

Anyway, appreciate your comment.

Bob said...

Rico said: "Sometimes a particular thought may be persistent but if I chose to ignore it, deprive it of my attention, it eventually goes away. In light of this it appears that it is attention and how it is directed, focused, that is the creative energy not thought."

DR Buttler said: "Good realization Rico."

And Winston Chruchill said; "Reality is important but perception is more important."

What you focus your attention on is what you focus your pererption on which is what creates YOUR reality.

Create a really fun, rich, shatki filled life!