all thoughts discounted
Forward: My mother was at Port Arthur when a gunmen killed 35 people in April, 1996. For 25 years she has lived with post-traumatic stress disorder. In other words, for 25 years the objects of her thinking have been rendered into powerful shapes. Reality is in the eye of the beholder and survival is the reality to which we are beholden to. We are factories producing items known as thoughts, they are express delivered to our awareness consistent with the nature of our survival instinct. each of us stock the shelves of our own personal shopping centre with items we have learnt to value, for each of us the supermarket is known as survival.
Taking stock of your thinking begins with inventory. Yes, first you must look at the distribution. Like any supermarket, the pricier items are on eye level, the more economical options are harder to find. Often there is very little difference in quality. Often The economical option provides a range of products that are more discerning. In other words, we put value on on items that appear to be more than what they are. This is the first step toward suffering. Understanding your thoughts as itemised entities is the first step towards mastering their arising.
In the supermarket of thoughts there are always discounts and they should be taken advantage of.
On the shelf
Feelings and thoughts
The good, The bad, The ugly
***on the shelf***
In this chapter: When you have a thought it has been selected like an item from a supermarket shelf. What is the shelf? It is self. Self is created by you and consists of a unique selection of products. What is the trolley? The trolley is your attention. You place items into it; you do not direct it towards anything. You choose the thought (feeling) items you put in the trolley, taken from the self – shelf. Some items however, appear to choose us, they appear to override rational choice-making. This is a perception error that must be corrected towards inner peace.
Developing a sense of self as something you have created, that arises from you, from an essential version of you, is significant. It goes to the core of thought item identification. However, it is not necessary to have an abiding sense of self origin for the purposes of thought and feeling management. The purpose of this guide is to acknowledge the itemising of though towards an appreciation of self as something over which you have control. In this way, it is important to accept that self has been acquired by you, like an actor acquiring a character, over a long time. This acquisition began at a stage in life when you were highly susceptible to imprinting. It is very difficult therefore, to unlearn key aspects of self. If, however, we teach ourselves to recognise the thoughts and feelings that your ‘self’ habitually places into your attention we can begin to identify its motivations. The thoughts and feelings self places into attention are mostly learnt responses to the world that are deeply entrenched. Sometimes they are plausible responses measured relative to our instinct to survive. Often however, they are over reactions, or self-defeating. Because of their exaggerated nature it sometimes feels as if negative thoughts and feelings hijack self and powerfully push aside joy and happiness. However,
Joy and love etc, regret, jealousy, anger, are thoughts and feelings we choose; they are a catalogue of experiences.
Accepting self as an arising of which you are the creator and accepting that your entire catalogue of thoughts and feelings are a choice you make can be difficult to realise, and possibly confronting. Once again, all reasonably well adjusted people are highly trained responders to the world. In other words, they are heavily informed by a kind of learning that has contaminated their instinct. This contamination, leads to, what feels like, impulsive or instinctual arising of thoughts and feelings. The suggestion is then, that external factors are ‘causing’ your responses, according to the laws of the physical universe, this is impossible. It is from this perspective that, at the very least, we must give into the idea that the feelings and thoughts we experience, of every variety and intensity, are choices we make.
It is in this way, we can begin to regard thoughts and feelings as items sitting on the shelf of self.
In this chapter: We are craft creatures informed by the power to make everything substantial. Once the world appears solid it can be itemised. These items will then be characterised according to the nature of their influence. They exert an influence on the survival instinct. Or more accurately, items of though are threats, what we have learnt survival to mean then informs our response; survival is social viability.
We are, instinctively and functionally, predisposed to objectify everything. Whether it is a quantum physicist investigating the true nature of reality; a reality, it appears, we are all responsible for manifesting. Or a philosopher, looking at thoughts and reality, and pondering which of them is the horse and which is the cart. It is possible to conceive that nothing arises in reality without a thought object, in the shape of a question, to precede it. Significantly, it is a question asked by all the senses, by the retina receiving light, by the eardrum receiving vibrations, etc. moment by moment. The senses receive data, the imagination renders all data, it is made substantial in attention and then the endocrine system kicks in. So what then is the happiness or the sadness etc. that we feel as the hormones flow? They are objects of thought.
Or should the first question be, is a feeling a response to a thought? Or, are feelings thoughts? The perception might be that feelings are imposed upon you. The reality is however, thoughts are always a choice. Maybe then it’s a question of stimulus comprehension. Circumstantially, what is necessary to force the arising of thought and how is that different to what might stimulate a feeling? Thoughts are a process that determine the existence of a threat. Feelings, are a response to a pre-determined threat. In this way, thoughts are an arising, similar to feelings. In other words, thoughts are inspirational, and feelings are instinctual; an instinct that is heavily informed by experience and self learning.
However, to truly understand objectification, there must be no perceived difference between thought and feeling. The imagination (next chapter) is constantly working to itemise all the elements of existence; for example, making the thing we call chair and the thought-feeling known as happiness, equally substantial in our attention. We are not base-creators. In other words, we reconfigure and build upon, pre-existing material; in this way, we are craft creatures. In other words, we stand on the shoulders of others towards our growth. Whether we are inspired to think, or instinct forces us to feel something, the composition of these items are made of nothing new. In other words, they are selections we make from items on a shelf placed there by someone else. The question then becomes, why do feelings appear to be a choice that is forced upon us, more so than thoughts? Accept, there is no difference between the feeling of joy and feeling of fear. In terms of survival, they are imperative. But only if the survival is understood as social viability. Imagine social viability is a way of describing all dimensions of survival, including keeping your physical being safe, insuring your ego is working towards building community, and helping the likelihood that the next generation is informed by your genes. Then social viability is a more sophisticated and accurate way to describe what survival really is for human beings.
Learning to manage the objects of existence, must then include the acknowledgement that we are the renders of those objects. The degree to which these objects appear substantial in our attention directly informs our understanding of social viability. Objectifying, is an ancient brain, foundational, biologically driven eventuality, that begins the process of learning; what we are taught to make substantial in attention consequently, then exists for our lifetime to be our definition of survival.
In this chapter: The imagination is a rendering tool. Understanding the power of the imagination to make everything substantial is the first step towards appreciating the true nature of reality. The imagination, must be appreciated for its ability to fill in gaps for beings, such as we are, who exist in a universe that is perfectly imperfect. It sends out a signal like a radar, that is incessant and works to make everything substantial. It takes in the data present in the environment, as processed by our senses, like a conveyor belt it then places everything into attention. The enormity of its power and influence should make us meek, and give us the desire to explore the entirety of its potential.
It begins very early, it send out a ping, it receives the reflections that tell us who we are. Nothing is shielded from its ability to objectify and substantiate. It is gifted with the task to give spirit form, nature structure, space enormity, and God a face. It is the receiver of everything, nothing can escape it’s rendering; without it you are vapour. It relies on dumb mechanics, beguiling science and emerging philosophies. It is your greatest strength and cannot be diminished by belief. Imagination is the beginning of your story , and it’s end.
Renewing an appreciation of the imagination, should form part of your growth and journey towards inner peace. The imagination is unique, it allows for the conscious manipulation of inspired thought objects, but it also works diligently towards the substantiation of reality. In other words, it must be fanciful, and simultaneously lead us as close to fact as we are able to arrive. In this way, in terms of instruments that help us make the universe a machine, predictable and ordinary in nature, that gives us a dry sense of foundation, there is no more powerful a device than the imagination. It is also a kaleidoscope, through which we can manipulate all the apparent solidity that it simultaneously allows us to conceive as reality. The instrument receives data via the senses, that is then projected onto a screen that exists in four dimensions, this is its mystery. In this way, it’s ability to create, or mash together data cannot be underestimated, accordingly its ability to substantiate is impossible to conceive. To fully appreciate its ability to render, we must accept that the universe is incomplete. Imagine, that in the smallest, or most infinitesimal ways, everything our senses are able to perceive in the universe is an incomplete image. The missing minuscule pieces of data, are invented by the imagination towards entropy. Ultimately, the imagination must be understood as the expression of energy types, has the universe attempts to define itself instant by instant. This is a statement that is difficult to refute, and therefore, can be made boldly. The reality however, cannot be ignored, when we look in the mirror we are a witness to a lie that the imagination, eternally, corrects.
The imagination is infused in the mechanisms of ordinary functioning; to such an extent that without it we are without place in the universe. This is may be difficult to conceive, unless you give yourself to the idea that, the human capacity to make-meaning, is simultaneously, a beautiful gift and an unavoidable consequence of existing in time and space. The imagination works, instant by instant, to give you and your world form; the consequences of which give all conscious beings, an avoidable spiritual dimension. I am not a religious person, I am a spiritual person, but let me put it like this, the imagination is God in the machine.
***the good, the bad, the ugly***
In this chapter: happiness is a choice. That does not mean it is easy to keep the ball in the air. The imagination, essentially, is making an interpretation of reality. Learnt responses heavily in form this interpretation. In this way, we are all a little bit like old dogs that need to learn new tricks. Learn the tricks that help you place happiness into your attention; happiness is an item of thought.
Happy thoughts are chosen. In a purely functional way a proposed chapter on happiness could end there. However, we are not robots. We are responders to threats towards our social viability. Survival is a confidence trick, it is a hierarchy of needs, and at its apex is social viability. In this way, happiness is not always sustainable. Necessarily, concern must arise and be understood for its arising. Happiness then becomes, like any thoughts and feelings, something that must be understood for its arising. Essentially, how thoughts and feelings are propelled into awareness determines the force of their ability to change our intentions. Significantly, however, thoughts and feelings, regardless of their intensity, have no ability to inform our intentions. So then, why are they do they appear to be so instrumental? Because, we learned to allow thoughts and feelings to override a rational control of them. This happens early in life, when our survival needs are crude, or in other words, lack a social viability motivation.
The trick then is this, unlearn the automation that means happiness whimsical. In other words, acknowledge happiness is an item of thought that you are able to place strategically into attention, not unlike the placement of a piece on a chessboard. The chessboard analogy is effective, it allows thoughts and feelings to be categorised; the different pieces, relative to their function, may be assigned to an emotion. Regardless, the central point is, you have conscious control over the movement of the pieces. The first step to relearning a conscious control over happy thought items is to understand the function of attention. The Imagination itemises everything, your learnt sense of priorities determines what items are placed into attention. The higher on the scale of priorities, and item is, the more likely it is that it’s promotion is reactive. In other words, if you learnt during your childhood, that anger is a necessary first response to stress, it may exist at the top of your list of thought/feeling items. In this way, it’s arising will appear to be automated, or beyond your ability to consciously control. This however, is not accurate. Anger is arising in an automated way, like a basketballer reflexively taking a shot, it is more a consequence of powerful programming or training; it is a reflexive muscle memory act. But life is not a game of basketball, it may be more like a game of chess. The point is, re-learn to control the pieces on the board.
How is that achieved? First, the automated responses, that may arise in forceful ways into your attention, will need to be acknowledged. Quite literally, talk to your anger! Yes, I am being literal – thank you anger, for being my first response; consistent with what I have learnt, your arising is expected. Its a strange methodology, arguably, however many reading this must be sick of anger existing as a force and not an item. It is now time to get real, feelings are not some whimsical thing that float into your attention beyond your control. Begin to acknowledge your thought/feelings as they arise, so they can become itemised and dealt with in meaningful ways. Acknowledging anger is the process of itemising it, you can then put the item back on the shelf and choose an alternative. This takes practice, but is an instrumental ability given to all conscious beings.
This does not mean we become robotic. Feelings will continue to arise in reflective and automated ways. But understanding them as items you have chosen helps you to moderate their impact. Your inability to moderate their impact can have ugly consequences. The desire you have to do harm to others or to control them, is to do with your inadequacies and are also thoughts over which you have control. Their arising appears to be impulsive, this is because of the survival instinct (see next chapter).