Three Principles Living

Judith A. Sedgeman, EdD

Ask the deeper questions

Ask the deeper questions

A flood of questions follows horrifying actions like the Boston Marathon bombing. Who is to blame? How did it happen? Why? Could we have stopped it? Can we keep it from happening again? We analyze each incident with an excruciatingly complex compilation of details. We hope for answers from the accumulation of minutiae.

Shouldn’t we also ask the deeper questions, the questions that would generalize specific events to insights about the universal nature of fury, hatred, alienation, dissociation in human beings? Have we taken seriously the critical need to truly understand and address mental health, not only here, but across the globe? What erupts within the human heart and mind to inflame the rage to kill?  Could anything inhibit the rabidity that fuels terror? Could people ever see how to create and sustain peace and stability?

In order to fully prevent — to eradicate — anything, the source must be clearly identified. Until the root cause is certain, prevention is randomly effective and situational. For example, even though it had been known since the Roman Empire that sewage must be diverted to avoid widespread sickness in concentrated populations, no one knew what was intrinsic to sewage that was the actual cause of illness until the germ theory of disease was proven in the mid-1800’s. Then we knew how the primary source of illness could contaminate and disseminate in many ways. Solving the spread of the one true source was the answer that allowed us to begin to control diseases.

As we think about cruelty, violence, evil now, we are like the ancient Romans. We want to keep them away from populations, so we look after the fact to figure out how to do that better. We take it for granted that dealing with those dark aspects of human behavior is inevitable, so we keep looking for more ways to wall them off and push them farther from us — more security, more barricades, more restrictions, more suspicion, more weapons. We are especially dismayed in the face of obvious ambiguity, of situations like the Boston bombers and other youthful terrorists around the world.  Those who grew up around the perpetrators often tell us that they were good kids, good friends, happy guys. How could that be?  Does the potential for terror lurk even in the apparently nice people we generally like? Why would seemingly intelligent, athletic, friendly young men turn into ruthless, remorseless, mass killers? What is the contaminant? How do we keep it away?

In the more than 30 years I have been working to extend the reach of the Principles of an inside-out logic that explains the whole range of human experience, I have wondered  why some central questions have not generally registered with people. For example:

  1. If  the causes of human behavior are external, why wouldn’t the same external forces create the same reactions in everyone exposed to them?
  2. Since common sense shows us that people respond differently to the same external circumstances, why aren’t we looking for the mediator that explains that?

Questions that reach below the surface of our prevailing assumptions easily get lost. It is the history of humanity to live within the boundaries of the theories about life that are most widely accepted in our eras. So, before the discovery of germ theory, people accepted frequent contagion and widespread outbreaks of disease as normal “acts of nature”. Now, we see them as abnormal and we know what to look for to bring them under control.

At this point in our general understanding of human psychology, the prevailing theories all suggest that life happens to us, and everything we think and feel and do is generated by things outside ourselves. Without realizing it, we see ourselves as perpetual victims of circumstances, both good and bad. We consistently look for causes outside ourselves to explain effects within ourselves. Who or what should we blame or thank for our experience of life? He made me mad. You make me cheerful. I’ll be happy if … Of course, he or she is this or that — look at his or her family/schooling/background/environment/friends/religion… Because we empower all the stuff in our life, we are always struggling with things outside of our control.

What if we are missing a crucial link in our understanding of ourselves? What if we generate our experience from within, by the thoughts that flow through us, mediated by the level of awareness we have that we are the thinkers of our own thoughts and thus the creators of our own experience of reality? What if the power is within each person on earth to recognize how thinking works and see how to discriminate wise thinking from destructive thinking? What if this knowledge is intrinsic, but not always understood, and therefore easily awakened? What if the universal source of all of our responses to the external world is the way we hold and use our own thinking about it?

Reflect for a moment. A mind at peace does not, could not, conceive violence as a viable action. A mind at peace creates ease, connection to other people, compassion and engagement in life. A mind in turmoil will conceive and act on whatever thoughts seem to offer relief from inner torment. A mind in turmoil creates insecurity, righteous self-absorption, alienation, hatred and disregard for life.

If part of early education, just as ordinary as math and reading, were a true understanding of how our own minds, how all human minds, work to create our experience, young people would know early on how to use their feeling state to navigate their own thinking. They would recognize which thoughts make sense to guide them into action, and which thoughts to leave alone. They would not be frightened by any of their thinking, regardless of how bizarre or destructive, because they would understand that all thoughts are fleeting images created within our own minds that have no meaning beyond our level of commitment to them. They would live at peace within themselves. When we are at peace inside, there will be peace in the world.

Cut off from innate wisdom, a lost thinker experiences isolation, fear and confusion. This is why there are so many atrocities throughout the world.  Sydney Banks, The Missing Link, p 83.                                                                 

  • Hi Judy, thanks some much for this timely reminder. I had been struggling a bit to define what is truly different about the three principles paradigm compared with the accepted view, but something here really stood out, that our thinking is not coming from us, it is coming through us. What we focus on through our awareness creates our reality. The accepted way of seeing things is that we are somehow, individually, the creator of our thoughts. By contrast, through our understanding of how things work through the principles, the closer we investigate the true source of all of this, the nearer we get to true peace and understanding.

    April 30, 2013 at 11:54 pm
  • An understanding of the 3 Principles, coupled with a true understanding of our Divine nature will go a long way toward establishing a more peaceful and loving world. Then we will be able to love ourselves, and by learning to love ourselves, we will be able to love others.

    May 1, 2013 at 12:23 am
  • cheryl

    I am most intrigued with the last paragraph regarding children. These teachings SHOULD be part of early education. How can we – as parents, community members, citizens of the world – help children understand how our minds work to create experience? And help them use their feelings to navigate their own thinking? Are there any resources available that translate the Principles into tools that speak to children? I would love to work toward instilling these concepts into our education system (through some other mechanism) but don’t know where to start.

    May 1, 2013 at 2:51 pm
    • Karen

      Hi Cheryl, I too share your passion. If you yourself have a clear understanding of the three principles the children who are in your lives you can’t help but recognise the love and purity with which you come from and naturally gravitate to this without any teaching I have found. Some writings focused on this area can be found written by Jack Pransky, Parenting from the heart, Mind over mood and his partner Amy has written a book for children entitled What is a thought.

      May 3, 2013 at 2:05 am
      • Cheryl

        Karen – Thanks so much for highlighting those resources! (I’m just seeing your reply now – I’ve been off email for the past few months.) I’d heard of Parenting from the Heart, but haven’t read it, and the other 2 are new to me. Thanks again!

        September 1, 2013 at 2:14 pm
  • Judy, This is an outstanding piece. I have come to always expect that from your writings, but this really reaches out to the current climate. Thank you! Warmly, Lanie Damon

    Sent from my iPhone Lanie Damon, LPC Career Counseling 678.665.4001 – cell

    May 2, 2013 at 4:12 pm
  • Wow!
    Iwan Karlsson led me here via Facebook, and am I ever grateful he did!

    I initiated something in Sweden we call the schoolspring, in Swedish #skolvåren, where we are asking the societal Why-questions, such as Why school? For me, the answer lies in What type of society do we want, and then school might be a way to get there.

    However, for me, as a professional coach, the three principles are spot on, and I believe my vision for today and tomorrow might be slightly outlandish and way off, than most people who are perhaps just starting to think about these deeper questions.

    Together we can ask the deeper questions, and if done wisely, it will make others ask deeper questions as well!

    I will follow your blog with pleasure!

    May 2, 2013 at 4:30 pm
  • Karen

    A truly insightful blog Judy, thenk you. I love the simplicity with which you write and I love the fact you always point back to Syd.

    May 3, 2013 at 2:08 am
  • Doris Boyle

    Indeed, Judy, to realize the truth of what’s behind our emotional experience and therefore driving our actions is powerful beyond measure and truly our pathway to peace personally and globally.

    May 3, 2013 at 8:52 am
  • A lovely simple wise message to reflect on. Thanks Judy. Hopefully, one day this will be common conscious knowledge.

    May 4, 2013 at 10:04 pm
  • Hello there 🙂 I hope you get to read my article about the constant search for peace of mind. I’m just 15 years old btw, and I would be glad if you can give constructive criticisms. Great blog btw. 🙂

    May 22, 2013 at 12:24 pm

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