Ben H. Swett
The next tool in this series is "just do the next thing next" which is "be here now" without stopping everything you are doing. It's amazing how much work you can get done if you don't think about the whole job all at once.
"I am a child of God" is a religious assertion, not a statement of self-awareness. And even though the statement "I am a soul" is accurate, it is somewhat redundant, because "soul" means "self".
"I am" is an antidote for erroneous self-identification. For example, I am not the body I wear or the brain I operate. I am not the name or personality by which others recognize me. I am not defined by my relationships: son, brother, husband, father. I am not a place or a profession. I am not what I do. For example, I am not a leader or a follower; I can lead or follow or neither lead nor follow. And I am not what I feel. "I am a fraid" is an erroneous self-identification even if it is an honest statement at a particular moment. Likewise, "I feel happy" can be accurate, but "I am a happy person" can be dangerous, because there are conditions that could make me unhappy enough to blow away that self image, and I wouldn't want to experience an identity-crisis along with those conditions.
The Mohammedan scholars who discovered the number "zero" did the human race a favor. We need an equivalent concept in logic, as an antidote for Aristotle's "Law of the Excluded Middle" which is the delusion of certitude, but Probability Theory does not address validity of knowledge. Empirical validity could be described as the correlation coefficient of any assertion to its relevant data, evidence or experience, and expressed in the range:
+1 = true, valid ... 0 = don't know, untested ... -1 = false, invalid
Assertion: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."
Truthful response: "I don't know whether that statement is true or false."
"I don't know" is very useful as an antidote for anxiety. "They should be here by now. I wonder if they got a late start, or had car trouble, or an accident... The truth is, I don't know, and speculation won't help. So I will decide how long I will wait before I start making telephone calls."
In terms of formal logic, "nevertheless" is a discontinuity, the functional opposite of "therefore". In computer programming, it's a program interrupt, or more accurately, an operator over-ride.
This tool can cut the otherwise automatic linkage of psychological cause-and-effect, including stimulus-response and conditioned response and operant conditioning. It is an exercise of volition, applied as an uncaused cause. It does not require any rationalization, so it permits a rigorous inner honesty concerning what we actually feel, and yet it frees us from slavery to our feelings. "If it feels good, do it," is the motto of a slave -- or a robot.
"Neither" and "Both" are also tools that can break the artificial barriers of either-or assumptions, statements, assertions, questions, etc. Why do we so often forget to use them?
You give away some of your power whenever you label anything or anyone good or bad, because your subconscious mind uses those labels to produce your emotional reactions. As a result of that subconscious mechanism, you tend to want whatever you label good, and fear to lose it; and you tend to fear whatever you label bad, and want to be rid of it.
The more you label things good or bad, the more completely programmed you become. I believe that is how free-willed beings become stimulus-response machines by internalizing "the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil." And there is a percentage or ratio involved: if you label most things good, you are likely to be happy most of the time. What happens if you label most things bad?
Therefore, be careful with these two labels. You have to use both of them in order to survive, here and hereafter, because some things are truly good for you and some are truly bad for you, but you can use them wisely, based on personal experience or evidence or trustworthy testimony.
Here are some value-judgments I have found useful:
Good for (someone or something) is a positive value-judgment that focuses on the effect rather than the cause of that effect. For example, suppose that a fox is chasing a rabbit, to eat it. There are two possible outcomes, but what is good for the fox is bad for the rabbit, and what is good for the rabbit is bad for the fox. My emotions do not have to be linked to either animal. If something's trying to eat me, I can run like a rabbit, and if I'm hungry, I can hunt like a fox.
Enough is a positive but limiting value-judgment that can be applied to otherwise open-ended desires, ambitions, appetites, and cravings. It can also be used as a form of closure.
Harmless is a nearly neutral value-judgment, applicable to many activities, things, ideas, people and spirits. "Harmless" means "not dangerous, neither helpful nor hurtful" and suggests "Okay." By generalization from examples of behavior to an overall assesment of a specific entity (either incarnate or discarnate), it means "neither good nor evil" and suggests tolerance of that entity.
Okay is a mildly positive value-judgment that implies approval or permission, but not necessarily endorsement. It reduces inner stress and promotes inner peace. However, before we can use it, we must set aside the notion that we have to label everything and everyone as either good or bad, and open our minds to the fact that most things and most people are neither very good nor very bad.
Useless, worthless, trivial, unimportant, more trouble than it's worth. These mildly negative value judgments tend to produce indifference, which is the absence of emotional reaction. They can be selectively applied to the object of any desire you decide to reduce or eliminate. For example, "It's more trouble than it's worth" has neutralized my desire for power over others.
Dangerous is a more useful value-judgment than "evil" although both refer to something that can cause pain or hardship, because "dangerous" can be dealt with as a statement of fact, whereas "evil" is loaded with emotional connotations.
Evil is a thoroughly negative value-judgment that properly applies only to intelligent entities who cause others pain, hardship, damage or death, intentionally or through indifference. "People of the Lie" by Scott Peck provides some excellent examples. So does any newspaper. "Mind Hunter" by John Douglas shows some cases in which there is no rational alternative to this value-judgment.