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The Fourth Principle

When we think of our selves as fixed, unchanging entities, we then seek to act in alignment with that self-concept and are troubled when we don't.
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As regular readers of these articles will know, my work is based around three principles -- three constant forces that are always at play behind the scenes of any experience we are having, have had, or will ever have at any point in the future.

The value of knowing the constants in any equation is it allows you to calculate the variables more accurately. For example, because the number pi (generally represented by the Greek symbol "π ") is a universal constant, we can calculate the circumference of any circle regardless of width.

Similarly, when we understand that all experience is made up via the universal constants of Mind, Thought, and Consciousness, it becomes shockingly simple to understand even the most outlandish seeming feelings and behaviors regardless of the context in which they take place:

We do what we do because "it seems like a good idea at the time" in our thought-created world; when and if we regret it later, our first words are "what was I thinking?"

The principle of Thought accounts for the individual variance in our experiences of similar events; the principle of Consciousness allows us to both have individual experiences and see what's going on behind the curtain that creates those experiences; the principle of Mind acts as both the playground inside of which we experience life and the intelligence behind the system -- the source of fresh, new thinking in the presence of both chaos and peace.

Yet while the vast majority of our problems in life can be chalked up to an innocent blindness to the inside-out nature of our experience of life, there is another factor which can be found in a huge number of instances - we believe and behave as though there is a "fourth principle" to be taken into account -- the apparent constant known as the ego, or what we refer to as "me, myself, and I."

When we think of our selves as fixed, unchanging entities, we then seek to act in alignment with that self-concept and are troubled when we don't.

  • If we think we are "good people," it troubles us when we behave in ways that we think are "bad."

  • If we think we are shy or introverted, we dismiss any outgoing, social behavior as anomalous and use any shy, introverted behavior as "proof" of our self-concept.
  • If we think we are useless, helpless, and worthless, we don't try new things, wait for someone to save us, and ignore any evidence that contradicts our egoistic self-definition as a "loser."
  • It's like one of my favorite jokes about the psychiatrist and the corpse...

    A man goes to a psychiatrist and the psychiatrist asks him what's wrong.

    The man says, "Isn't it obvious? I'm dead -- I'm a corpse."

    The psychiatrist says, "But you walked in here -- can corpses walk?"

    The man says, "Haven't you ever seen a zombie movie? Of course corpses can walk."

    So the psychiatrist says, "But we're talking -- do corpses talk?"

    The man says, "What kind of a question is that? Of course corpses can talk!"

    Finally, the psychiatrist gets an idea. With a crafty look in his eye, he asks the man, "Do corpses bleed?"

    The man thinks for a moment, and then says "No, no, corpses don't bleed. After all, we're dead, so we can't bleed."

    Before the man can react, the psychiatrist reaches over and pricks him on the hand with a needle and a small drop of blood emerges from under his skin. The man stares at the blood in amazement.

    "Well I'll be damned," the man says. "Corpses do bleed!"

    Here's the problem with believing there's a "fourth principle":

    When we think of our character -- literally the character we think we are playing in the story of our lives -- as a constant, we live lives limited in scope by the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors we believe to be congruent with that character.

    When we see that our character (ego, personality, self-concept, etc.) is all made up via the true constants of Mind, Consciousness, and Thought, we are free to think anything, feel anything, and do anything in any situation.

    Contrary to many people's fears, this does not lead to a more chaotic life. Rather, it makes space for our deeper mind -- the intelligence behind the system -- to guide us moment by moment through the maze of human experience with more grace, creativity, wisdom, and well-being than we may ever have thought possible.

    With all my love,

    For more by Michael Neill, click here.


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