Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Use the Power of Your Wishes for Greater Well-Being

Whether for its joy or sorrow, whatever we wish for another comes true for us in the same moment we make that wish!

Find New Strength in Awakened Attention

When attention is directed, it has the ability to invest an idea with energy and life. Wherever you place your attention, you give life to that seed of thought. You can see this in operation all the time. Has it ever happened to you that you had a thought, and soon discovered that someone else, a friend or co-worker, had a similar idea? It almost seems as though your attending to the thought gave it a life of its own and passed it to another person. We've all had something like this happen: you're stopped at a red light, and you look out your car window at a man passing by. You follow him with your eyes, and the next thing you know he turns around and looks at you! The power of attention almost seems to have a magnetic pull.

This power can be used for good or bad. When we use it for practical work, or for honest self-observation, we use it to our own benefit. However, when this power operates unconsciously to strengthen self-harming ideas, it becomes a barrier to natural strength, happiness, and love. At every moment, we stand on the threshold to a completely different and better life. If we become conscious of the true cause of our unhappiness, we can direct our attention away from its unconscious focus. At that point, something higher can come in to help us use the power of attention for our true good.

But first we must see how wrongly directed attention works against us. Perhaps a thought comes to you about a problem that's been bothering you. The thought takes an inner state and defines it for you by naming its "cause." Once the thought comes, your mind gives it attention. In that moment, you've animated that thought and given it life -- and the life you've given it is your own! Here's an example of how this might come about. A man is walking through his office when his boss walks by and gives him a blank look. The thought pops into the man's mind that his boss is criticizing him or doesn't like him. He focuses attention on the thought, which strengthens it. He's convinced the boss has it in for him. The thought grows in authority for him, tormenting him for the rest of the day and causing him to snap at his family when he gets home. A hitchhiking spirit has been created out of the conjunction of a passing glance and misdirected attention.

Here is the amazing thing. This whole drama has been played out inside of the man, but not only does he not see its true origin, he believes it has been cast upon him by someone else -- his heartless boss! He tries to get rid of the painful feelings by arguing with his boss, either outwardly or in his mind. The more he feels punished by the situation the more he wants to fight with it, thinking that its existence is separate from him, but it's not independent of him. He gave it its existence by unconsciously permitting his attention to be drawn to it. The more he resists it, the more it grows. The more it grows, the more he resists. The situation gets worse, and the worse it gets, the more he's convinced that the whole thing has been caused by something outside of him. Nothing can change until he begins to understand that his attention animated the thought, which he then wrongly fed with his own life. Only by becoming aware of this can he begin to use properly his most powerful weapon: attention.

We must use our awakened attention to catch unnecessary thoughts and withdraw our consent from them.

We've suffered because we've unconsciously consented to painful thoughts. We've animated these thoughts with our own energy, and they have then been able to direct our behavior, leading us to fight, overeat, spend money, drink, and a thousand other self-destructive behaviors. By withdrawing our consent from these thoughts, we no longer animate negative energies. We neither resist them nor try to change them, two approaches that only seem to strengthen the problem. But withdrawing our consent is a method that cannot lose.

At the moment we feel a pain, we must notice where our attention is. We can use the pain to look back into our lives to see what we've been consenting to. This action separates us from the situation so we can see where our attention is. We see that for the past half hour we've been engaged in an imaginary argument with someone who isn't even there! We see that we've been animating painful thoughts. We suffer because we think about things that make us suffer. We get angry because we think about things that make us angry. Now we come to an amazing discovery: if I accidentally gave that negative spirit life, I can also consciously withdraw that life.

Until now, we've unconsciously allowed our attention to be carried by any passing thought, but now we will be attentive to where our attention is. As an exercise, several times each day we can break into our own thoughts and become wide awake to ourselves. For example, you might set yourself the task of trying to become aware of yourself and where your thoughts are every time you pass through a doorway. That evening, as you walk from your kitchen to your living room, you remember yourself as you pass through the door and realize that you're worrying about something you have to do the next day. You realize that there is no reason for you to be thinking about that at the moment, and that your worry has put you in an irritable mood. Your awareness shows you that you are not required to think those thoughts, and the mood they created is not real. You can refocus your attention, and go on to enjoy your evening.

When we drop negative spirits, our precious resources are no longer mobilized to fight an unnecessary war. We are filled with real life and Light, and we face each new experience with enthusiasm and curiosity; for life is whole and good when we are no longer surrounded by enemies that we ourselves created.

-- Guy Finley
Excerpted from
Who Put That Stone In My Shoe?
© 1998-2006 Guy Finley/Life of Learning Foundation

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