Why guilt is useless

Guilt
Guilt is a delusionary state. It doesn’t serve you at all and is a creation of the imagination; of Headmind’s drive towards conformity.

Here’s how Headmind creates Guilt:

1. Headmind is stuffed full of judgments about the person you could be, should be, should not be, etc. Those judgments were not originally your own but inherited from other people. But gradually you internalised them and they became self-judgments.

2. These judgments are re-activated by parents, teachers, priests, employers, children and partners who may be exploiting you.

3. Your Headmind buys into those judgments because it seeks acceptance, conformity, and admiration (even from people who don’t deserve your respect).

4. Dwelling on occasions in which guilt comes up – and Headmind judges you – creates uncomfortable Bodymind reactions: cringing, agitation, distress. Although Bodymind creates that discomfort in order to warn you not to indulge in guilt, Headmind interprets this as a signal that you are, indeed, a ‘bad’ person, worthy of punishment.

Here’s another way to understand ‘Guilt’:

1. Earlier societies did not recognise a psychological state known as ‘guilt’. For them ‘guilt’ was simply another word for ‘debt’ (as in the German/Saxon word: ‘gultig’). It simply meant that one person had harmed another and was unable to put things right. For example, one person stole another person’s property but was too poor to pay it back – therefore he was ‘guilty’ and subject to the penalties of the community.

2. Religious influences gradually changed this original meaning of guilt into ‘personal sin’.

3.  When Psychology started up in Germany and America in the 19th century it took over religious ideas about ‘sin’ and reinterpreted them in terms of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ actions. So doing one ‘bad’ thing made you an ‘evil’ or ‘guilty’ person – instead of someone who simply made a mistake.

4. Mistakes and ‘bad’ actions you committed in the past were based on the knowledge you possessed at the moment you committed them, no matter how daft. For example: you shop-lifted, knowing you couldn’t afford something but that you ‘had’ to have the item anyway. You let the Headmind state of greed get the better of you.

5. Therefore your past mistakes were based on inadequate knowledge (you thought it was ok to steal, or that you wouldn’t get caught, or that it wouldn’t matter if you did get caught). Your predictions turned out to be wrong, although you didn’t  realise that at the time.

6. Your present self-judgments are based on a false premise: your present self blames your past self even though your past self did not possess the experience of knowledge your present self now has.

Here is the truth:

1. You did not actually have free will back then when you committed your error of judgment. You did what you had to do at the time because you lacked Awareness.

2. Indulging in Headmind worry (i.e. analyzing over and over again about what an ‘evil’ person you were/are) may actually get in the way of your attempts to put things right.

3. If you have really done somebody wrong you could connect to the emotion of remorse and get on with making amends, rather than wasting time on guilt.

Image by Jsome1

Schopenhauer – a philosophy for grumpy people?

Schopenhauer In my last article – Can feeling grumpy be good for you? I mentioned one of my favourite philosophers – Arthur Schopenhauer – who was a grumpy old man already by the age of 19. I first read him at 15 and developed a ‘bah humbug’ attitude which was delicious and self-indulgent while it lasted although I no longer think it is clever – or even profound – to be pessimistic about life. Even so, I still think that Schopenhauer possessed a genius for philosophy. (He also wrote a lot about sex).

Here are a few gems:

After your death you will be what you were before your birth.

Everyone takes the limit of his own field of vision for the limit of the world.

The conscious mind may be regarded as a kind of parasite of the organism, a pensioner, as it were, who dwells within the body.

If you want to know your true opinion of someone, watch the effect produced in you by the sight of a letter/email from that person.

The two enemies of human happiness are pain and boredom.

We forfeit three-fourths of ourselves in order to be like other people.

Console yourself by remembering that the world doesn’t deserve your affection.

Change alone is eternal, perpetual, immortal.

There is no absurdity so obvious but that it may be firmly planted in the human head if you only begin to introduce it before the age of five, by constantly repeating it with an air of great solemnity.

The closing years of life are like a masquerade party, when the masks are dropped.

Compassion is the basis of all morality.

Wicked thoughts and worthless efforts gradually set their mark on the face, especially the eyes.

The greatest of mistakes is to sacrifice health for any other kind of reward.

There is no doubt that life is given us, not to be enjoyed, but to be overcome.

In my next article I will write about the advantages – and disadvantages – of pessimism for life.

Can feeling grumpy be good for you?

Moods1 I receive a mischievous communication from my very good friend Mark McGuinness who wants me to comment on a research article he has looked into, written by some ‘Australian psychologists’, which claims that being in a ‘bad mood’ can be ‘good’ for you.

Now, some of my best experiences in life have been prompted by my ‘bad’ moods. With the aid of those I have got rid of countless annoying relationships, irritating jobs and pointless activities. So my first thought was that – yet again – a bunch of overpaid academics were being subsidised to announce discoveries most of us learned in primary school. And that Mark had forgotten our many rambling midnight conversations about emotions and the meaning of life.

Yet I realised immediately that these gorgeous, Bondi-beach seeking academics have made yet another category mistake: While bad moods can, indeed, be ‘good’, those are not the same as ‘bad emotions’.

To remind you: there is no such thing as a bad emotion. Emotions are an expression of Bodymind
intelligence. A mood is different. It is a  Headmind attitude. It expresses a relationship between our attitudes and the world as we find it. You can read more about moods here.

A grumpy mood, for me, is a relationship based on suspicion. It means that I no longer trust that experiences, situations, people, or the Lord God himself are doing me any favours. And that, in turn, is a cue that I need to revise my trusting attitude towards these entities. I need to retreat, stand-off, complain, and have a moan. I may even need to disengage – permanently.

So yes – a grumpy mood can be good for you if it helps you get rid of your intellectual garbage.

The funny thing is that I actually find grumpy moods enjoyable. Entraining my suspicion and pessimism on the planet gives me a god-like sense of detachment and playfulness. It also gives me a playground for wit.

Rather like one of my favourite philosophers – Arthur Schopenhauer – who once wrote:

“If we were not all so interested in ourselves, life would be so uninteresting that none of us would be able to endure it.”

Come to think of it, Schopenhauer deserves an article all to himself, so I will write that next.

What you can learn from Gurdjieff

Gurdjieff George Ivanovich Gurdjieff died on the 29th October 1949 in the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris. Although I have little respect for Gurus (as, neither, did the man himself) and would have found Gurdjieff repellent had I actually met him, he changed my life.

I would not be alive now had I not accidentally discovered Gurdjieff’s teachings. When I was going through a bad, depressed, suicidal patch in my 20s, I came across one of Maurice Nicol’s Commentaries on the Teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky in a bookstore on the Charing Cross Road. In there, I read that all negative states were delusions. A light-bulb went off in my head. Could I actually be creating my own misery rather than being a victim of life itself?

I read on further. Not only were negative ideas fantasies but they were based on wrong work of the intellect. That the correct way out was to restore right work of the mind, the heart, the body, and the sexual instinct. That the way out from despair was to repair the intelligences in those centres and to do work on oneself in order to become a complete, fully-functioning, human being using each of those centres. That only the ego, and its relentless self-pity, could possibly get in the  way.

30 years later I am struck by just how much I had borrowed from Gurdjieff when I developed the ideas that led to Reverse Therapy. Here are a few examples:

1. That personal growth relies on hard work and humility.

2. Headmind, or the Intellect – is not necessarily the most important organ you possess. Your personal genius and your passion is equally important.

3. Headmind chatter – gossip, internal self-talk, journalism, academic writing, television – is the enemy of self-development.

4. It’s important for your health to separately pursue satisfaction for all your vital centres – emotional, physical, sexual and intellectual, on an equal basis.

5. If you rely too much on one centre you can will experience disatisfaction according to the centre you are fixated on: intellect (anxiety), emotion (sentimentality), sex (lust), or body (greed).

6. Most human beings are slaves of conditioning – out-of-date customs, insincerity, empty rituals, received ideas – which keep them asleep.

7. The task that God (Gurdjieff refers to him as ‘His Endlessness’) sets us is to wake up and serve his purpose: to wake up other people and live a more intensive life.

8. That the word Sin (in ancient Greek) means merely ‘missing the point’. No human being is born evil in the Christian sense. Our only ‘sin’ is to fall asleep again.

9. All living creatures are ‘idiots’ which (in Greek) means they try to go their own way regardless of others. Even God, in this sense, is an idiot. Realising that you, too, are an idiot, provides humor as well as compassion for others.

10. The purpose of life is self-development to the point at which you can appreciate God’s purpose. Which is love. But love is not a matter or words or fine feelings. It relates to empathy – your deep appreciation of the idiot who exists beside you. And who needs your appreciation (and humor) as much as you do hers.

The 30 most important life lessons

Moses These lessons are borrowed from Regina Brett, who wrote them when she turned 50 three years ago. Thanks to Lindsey Jones for sending this to me.

1. Life isn't fair but it's still good.

2. When in doubt just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.

5. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

6. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

7. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

8. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

9. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

10. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

11. Don't take for granted what you have got – or you may lose it.

12. Everything can change in the blink of an eye.

13. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

14. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

15. Whatever does not kill you makes you stronger.

16. It's never too late to have a happy childhood.

17. When someone breaks your heart quickly bestow your love on others.

18. Over-prepare, then go with the flow.

19. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

20. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

21. Forgive everyone.

22. What other people think of you is none of your business.

23. Time heals almost everything.

24. However good or bad your situation is, it will change.

25. Don't take yourself seriously. No one else does.

26. Don't audit your life. Make the most of it now.

27. All that truly matters in the end is love.

28. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting to happen.

29. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

30. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

 

Five ways to get rid of your moods

Mood In my last-but-one post I wrote on what your moods tell others about you.

In this post I describe how you can shake off negative moods.

The first step is to understand what a mood actually is. It’s not a feeling or an emotion but a subtle change in Bodymind energy which can be sensed both by yourself and by others around you.

For example, a self-pitying mood could manifest as a heavy, oppressive, melancholy kind of energy.

While a fun-seeking mood could be light, bubbly and playful.

The second step is to raise Awareness. Of who you are and what you are doing in the moment. Of your emotions, feelings and moods. You can’t change a mood that you don’t know you have. In some cases you can shake off a bad mood just by becoming aware of it and focusing your attention on something else.

Which brings us to the third method, which is actually the simplest one to use: listening to music. If your mood is down, put on something uplifting. If your mood is bitter, put on something sad. If you are panicky, put on something with a big beat! And so on.

The fourth way is to eliminate the cause of your moods, which reflect your relationship to yourself, to other people, or to life.

  • If your relationship to yourself is judgmental your mood is likely to be edgy, tense, strung-out.
  • If your relationship to other people is hostile your mood is likely to be prickly and ‘ready-to-blow’.
  • If your relationship to life is defeatist your mood is likely to be depressed.

In each case the answer is to change the attitude.

  • Instead of passing harsh judgments on yourself, focus on your achievements.
  • Instead of attacking people, empathise with them
  • Instead of giving up on life find new things to do or a new way to live.

The fifth solution is to get rid of your Personality. You only need to use this one if you find that the same mood keeps coming up, again and again. For example, if you are continually despondent, agitated, or bitter and you have been that way for a while then you have become trapped by false personality.

Image by nyki_m

What your moods tell others about you

Depressed Far more than emotions (which, after all, we all share) your moods show you what, and sometimes who, you are to others.

But first we need to understand what a mood is.

  • It isn’t a feeling.
  • It isn’t an emotion.
  • And it isn’t something that just happens to you.

It’s based on your attitude to things going on around you.

Your attitude, in turn, is governed by your relationship to people, events, the world – as shown to you by Headmind. It is the atmosphere in which you live. It is the atmosphere you give off to others.

For example, if your relationship to the world is that of Victim, your relationship to the world is likely to be self-pitying or else aggressive (in a negative way). So your mood will either be depressive or hostile.

By contrast, if your relationship to the world is based on the idea that you can do anything you want (within reason) then your mood is likely to be sparkling and aggressive (in a positive way).

Attitudes trigger moods in a variety of ways:

  • Suspicious (morose, surly mood)
  • Hopeless (depressive mood)
  • Self-sufficient (tranquil mood)
  • Self-important (impatient mood)
  • Manipulative (uncomfortable mood)
  • Loving (peaceful, blissful mood)
  • Nihilistic (despairing, suicidal mood)

It was said that the Buddha filled most of those who met him with a mood combined of tranquillity, kindness and awe. Similar reports apply to Christ.

Whatever your attitude to the world, to others, or to the things that happen to you, the rest of us can tell the kind of person you are, not only by the way you react to situations but by the vibe we pick up from you. One reason for that is that Bodymind not only tells us about other people through the emotions but also tells people about usthrough our moods.

If you prefer not to give away so much about yourself I will be telling you in the next post about how you can change both your attitudes and your (negative) moods.