Paradise is where I am.
Another endless loop (I like to think of them as upward spirals) is the one of altitude and attitude. When "stuck" in something you don't like, you can either change the altitude or the attitude and, as Peter Pan would say, "U-u-u-u-up you'll go!"
Altitude is our viewing point, our perspective. The higher our viewing point, the more we can see. The more we can see, the more information we have. The more information we have, the better we can make well-informed decisions.
When the question arises, "Shall I think negatively about this moment or not?" I maintain that, with enough altitude, your spontaneous response will be "not."
Have you ever been in a situation that seemed awful at the time, but eventually led to something wonderful? If you knew, at the time, that the bad situation would eventually lead to a much better one, would you have wasted all that energy feeling bad about it? Probably not.
What if all situations in life were like that? What if there were a reason behind all movement, a plan behind the action? What if, with sufficient altitude, you could see the plan? Not necessarily the way in which every detail will come to pass--what a dull life it would be if we knew precisely what the future held--but more a general sense that "something good will come from this."
Attitude is the way we approach things--our point of view. Do you look at life as an adventure to be enjoyed, or a problem to be solved? There are infinite possibilities for living in either Adventureland or Problemville. The choice, as I've pointed out numerous times, is yours. The key is attitude.
It is possible that our race may be an accident, in a meaningless universe, living its brief life uncared for, on this dark, cooling star: but evenso--and allthe more--what marvelous creatures we are! What fairy story, what tale from the Arabian Nights of the Jinns, is a hundredth part as wonderful as this true fairystory of simians! It is so much more heartening, too, than the tales we invent.A universe capable of giving birth to many such accidents is--blind ornot--a good world to live in, a promising universe. We once thought we lived on God's footstool; it may bea throne.
The connection between attitude and altitude is easy to see. If we have a good attitude, our altitude will lift, and if we have an elevated altitude, our attitude will rise. (The reverse, by the way, is also true--spirals go up or down, and seem to be infinite in either direction.)
Altitude is raised through meditation, contemplation, prayer, spiritual exercises, creativity, service--connecting directly in some way with the uplifting energy of life.
Attitude lifts through inspiring lectures, reading, seminars, therapy, support groups, books, movies, TV shows--learning concepts and techniques that naturally lead to an enlightened view.
If you lift the attitude, the altitude will lift. If you raise the altitude, the attitude will lift. Either way, comme tu veux (it's up to you).
Of course, doing things to lift both attitude and altitude will put you on what is technically known as an upward hyper-spiral, or, as it's more commonly known, joy.
My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds.
I could prove God statistically.
I've dropped God's name quite a few times in these last few chapters. Maybe it's time to talk directly about the Deity.
I'm going to suggest you reach for God in two ways.
First, whatever your concept of God currently is, reach a little higher. Whatever you believe or perceive God to be is fine with me--from the bearded, omnipotent Father on the throne to the creative flowering of Mother Nature. Whatever it is, see if you can expand it just a little bit more.
Second, reach for God in whatever form you feel God to be. If God is the power that grows plants and moves planets, fine. If God is the creator behind all that, fine. If God is the part of us that beats our heart and breathes our breath, fine. Reach into that power, energy, and spirit for support, solace, direction, and love.
Relate to God in whatever way you choose, but do relate. Chat, ask for things, listen for guidance, give love, receive joy, or just say "thanks."
Give it a try. You have nothing to lose but your doubt. The following thoughts on God may stir a few of your own.
Serve God, that He may do the like for you.--The Teaching for Merikare (2135-2040 B.C.)
What is God? Everything.--Pindar (518-438 B.C.)
Beauty is the gift of God.--Aristotle
Even God lends a hand to honest boldness.--Menander (342-292 B.C.)
I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my horse.--Charles V
When God wounds from on high he will follow with the remedy.--Fernando de Rojas
Has God forgotten all I have done for him?.
(Louis also said, when a coach arrived precisely on time, "I almost had to wait.")
I treated him, God cured him.--Ambroise Par (1517-1590)
God is usually on the side of the big squadrons and against the small ones.--Roger de Bussy-Rabutin
Belief is a wise wager. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager then, without hesitation, that He exists.--Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
If God were not a necessary Being of Himself, He might almost seem to be made for the use and benefit of men.--John Tillotson (1630-1694)
Live innocently; God is here.--Linnaeus (1707-1778)
To believe in God is impossible-- not to believe in him is absurd.
For I bless God in the libraries of the learned and for all the booksellers in the world.--Christopher Smart
The universe is the language of God.--Lorenz Oken (1779-1851)
Of course God will forgive me; that's his business.--Heinrich Heine (Last words, 1856)
In the faces of men and women I see God.--Walt Whitman
VISITOR: "Henry, have you made your peace with God?" THOREAU: "We have never quarreled."
God forbid that I should go to any heaven in which there are no horses.--Robert Bontine (1853-1936)
God hid the fossils in the rocks in order to tempt geologists into infidelity.--Sir Edmund Gosse
The Lord God is subtle, but malicious he is not.--Albert Einstein
Next to of course god america I love you land of the pilgrims' and so forth--e. e. cummings
God is a verb.--Buckminster Fuller
Isn't God special?--Church Lady
If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss bank.--Woody Allen
I could not say I believe. I know! I have had the experience of being gripped by something that is stronger than myself, something that people call God.
It's good to be just plain happy; it's a little better to know that you're happy; but to understand that you're happy and to know why and how and still be happy, be happy in the being and the knowing, well that is beyond happiness, that is bliss.
Ready for a pop quiz? Okay. Consider this statement: "If something is too good to be true, it is."
Pop quiz question: What words will follow "it is"?
(a) "too good" (If something is too good to be true, it is therefore not true.)
(b) "true" (If something is too good to be true, it is true.)
BZZZZZZZ. Time's up.
The correct answer is (b): if something is too good to be true, it is true. The answer most people spontaneously arrive at, however, is (a).
LESSON: Negative thoughts lead to negative assumptions.
SCORING: Give yourself 50 points if you chose answer (a). Give yourself 50 points if you chose answer (b). Give yourself 100 points for taking the test.
GRADING: If you got more than 20 points, congratulations! You get an A. Give yourself a gold star. Excellent work. Superb. Bravo. Hurrah! Good for you.
That's the pop quiz. How did you do?
Too good to be true?
Mirth is like a flash of lightning, that breaks through a gloom of clouds, and glitters for a moment; cheerfulness keeps up a kind of daylight in the mind, and fills it with a steady and perpetual serenity.
If we have a life-threatening illness, sometimes the very sound of the name--or the condensed version of the name (CA for cancer, MS for multiple sclerosis, etc.)--can strike fear into our hearts.
So, change the meaning of the abbreviations. They're just letters. Assign other words to them, uplifting words. Then, whenever you hear people say the letters, you can smile. To them it means one thing; to you it means something else.
CA can be Creating Always, or Carefree and Alive, or Caring for All.
MS could be Mighty Spiritual, or Making Success, or Mirthful Snuggle.
AIDS might become And I'm Doing Swell, or Always I'm Dancing and Singing, or Another Interesting Day in Spirit.
You can also invent acronyms for treatments you don't like; shots, for example. Sure Helps Overcome The Symptoms or Sure Heals Over The Seasons.
You can do it with any words or abbreviations you don't like. They're just letters. Letters can represent anything you want. Might as well let them represent something uplifting.
Without this playing with fantasy no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable.
Creative visualization is holding an image of the direction we want to go, of what we want to achieve, of the things and people we want to be with, and of what we want to become.
Visualization is something we all do all the time anyway--we are always visualizing, either positively or negatively.
If I were to ask you to draw a square, a triangle, and a circle, you would probably be able to do that without "thinking" too much about it. You'd have an almost immediate image of each of those shapes. That image would come from visualization.
The use of the term visual in visualization is, perhaps, misleading. Yes, some people see clear, Technicolor images, but others have more a sense (a feeling) of what they're "visualizing," while for others, "visualization" is process of hearing. Visualization can take place through any one or any combination of the five senses.
Perhaps a better word might be imagine--to put an image of something in to your awareness. Either word is fine. I'll use visualization because that's the term that has generally come to describe using the mind and emotions as tools for consciously creating a positive reality.
His imagination resembled the wings of an ostrich. It enabled him to run, though not to soar.
ON JOHN DRYDEN
I say "consciously" because we unconsciously use visualization to create our lives. Almost everything we've done, we probably "thought about it" before we did it; that "thinking about it" included visualization. We project ahead in our imagination, imagine what the situation will be like, imagine the way we would like it, and imagine all the things that might go wrong.
Therein lies the rub. Many people create their own negative reality through negative visualization. I've quoted a couple of times the saying, "What you fear may come upon you." Negative visualization is the process by which it comes about. We worry so much about something that we create an image of failure, terror, rejection, and destitution. Then we set about to fulfill our vision.
This process is not a total waste of energy--we do, after all, get to be "right." "I knew it!" we think. "That wasn't worry; that was accurate perception." The reality seldom turns out as bad as we imagined. We're relieved, then, when the other shoe finally drops and we discover catastrophe is merely disaster.
As Henry Ford said, "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right."
I, naturally, am suggesting you use this powerful tool of the imagination for your upliftment, healing, and joy; that you use it as yet another method of getting what you really want and, of course, not hurting anyone else in the process.
Positive visualization accomplishes the positive in the same way that negative thinking achieves the negative. It helps us "preview" goals, makes us comfortable with the reality we're creating, and lets us know when to say yes and when to say no as opportunities arise. (The ones that fulfill our vision, we follow; the ones that run counter to our vision, we let pass.) And, somehow, our thoughts seem to attract to us the realities our imagination creates.
The imagination may be compared to Adam's dream-- he awoke and found it truth.
For the balance of the book, when I use the word visualization, I'll be referring to positive visualization. I just wanted you to know that all thinking incorporates visualization and that all visualization tends to manifest itself in physical reality.
How do you visualize? What senses do you personally use? What's it like? It's easy to find out. Think of the Eiffel Tower. Now think of the Statue of Liberty. Now think of a lemon. Now think of a rose. What color is the rose? If it's red, make it yellow; if it's yellow, make it red. Think of a lake. Think of a glass of water. What does your bathroom look like? What color is your car?
However you got those images, that's how you visualize.
All that is comes from the mind; it is based on the mind, it is fashioned by the mind.
THE PALI CANON
One essential point about visualization: Never lose in your imagination. It is your imagination; you can have everything precisely the way you want. Have it that way. When visualizing, you're not limited to any physical reality. You can fly. You can be always joyful. You can be perfectly healthy. You can be loved. You can be loving.
So be it.
Copyright © 1988-1996 Peter McWilliams & Prelude Press, Inc.
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