“There is a voice that does not use words – listen” Rumi
Last night I attended a talk on the Three Principles given by my friend and colleague Ian Watson. Although I have had the privilege of listening to him many times and teach alongside him, he is such an inspiring teacher that I often hear something new to reflect on. This reflection arose from a question from the audience: if we are all born with mental health and well being, as the Three Principles suggests, how do human beings lose sight of it and suffer?
Ian responded by sharing a personal example of a beautiful childhood experience walking in nature through long grass where he suddenly felt profound joy and peace. He had mistakenly attributed these feelings to the place and circumstances and for many years afterwards he had tried to recapture those feelings by walking the hills, trying to recreate the external circumstances. It wasn’t until much later that he realised that those profound feelings were within him all along. It is this innocent “misguided” thinking which takes us further away from our natural well being. It is a powerful illusion that how we feel comes from the outside world rather than our internal thinking.
So as I listened last night, my own childhood example of how misguided thinking had obscured my natural well being came to mind and I remembered one of my earliest experiences of being connected to the deeper intelligence behind life. I was on a picnic as a young child when I suddenly found myself with feelings of profound love and joy. An inner knowing arose and I felt connected to something so much greater than me. My mind struggled to find the right words to describe what I was seeing. In awe, I said to the adults around me:
“I know what God is. It’s love and it’s everywhere and everything. It’s in the sky and the grass and that tree and it’s in me.”
And last night, in the quiet reflection, I could feel the power and truth of that realisation decades later. I listened beyond those childish words and knew again what they pointed to.
Yet the reaction around me at the time was one of dismissal and ridicule. Who was I to know anything about love or God, they asked? It was clear to me that it was not safe to talk about this and in that moment I started to believe that I had been wrong. I was not worthy of knowing such things. Through the magical thinking of a child, I saw myself as others saw me, not as I really was. I closed down to those innate feelings, drowning them out with a belief I took on and held until many years later.
And yet…I know that I never really forgot what I had seen because it was my true nature and the echo of it sustained me through the difficult times to come.
Many people I work with have experienced similar moments where they have been graced with profound feelings of joy, love, or gratitude for no apparent reason. They have spontaneously fallen out of their busy, conceptual minds, into a quiet, reflective space where they naturally access feelings of peace, clarity and well being. Take a moment now to reflect on your own moments where perhaps you have felt connected to something greater than yourself, experienced deep gratitude or were simply in the flow of life. Sometimes reflection on such moments allows us to remember a truth known in the depths of our being.
Occasionally, I meet someone who can’t remember ever experiencing joy or well being. Yet I have witnessed even those people transform before my very eyes as they touch that place that is within us all. What seems so far away and impossible to reach, is actually so close that we often miss it. If feelings of well being seem impossible for you right now, I simply invite you to open to the hopeful possibility that such feelings are part of your essential nature, and they are just below the surface of the noisy personal thought system. Peace of mind is always there in the same way that the deep, blue, calm depths of the ocean are always just below the turbulent, crashing waves. No one is excluded from the potential for new thought and therefore a new experience of life at any moment.
There were people in the room last night who were living with the aftermath of traumatic events, trying to make sense of life and find a way back to wholeness and well being. I have been there; feeling broken; holding it together somehow…mostly. The Three Principles orient us towards the fact that we can never really forget our essential nature because it is the Truth of who we are and we can wake up and realise it at any moment.
One of the most beautiful things I heard Ian say was that every human being has the in-built ability to recognise Truth when we hear it, whether we understand it or not, because it resonates with the Truth within us.
The invitation is to listen now, in this moment, beyond these words, to the resonance within and remember that all is well.