1. What ARE The Three Principles?
2. How are The Three Principles different than cognitive therapy?
First, Cognitive therapy is interested in the belief systems that are behind the client’s problem. The idea is to identify dysfunctional or distorted beliefs and challenge them. A principle-based approach isn’t interested in challenging belief systems. A principle-based approach would look at how those belief systems are created. The understanding of this human phenomena would be the point and would in itself give the person mental well being.
Second, when people understand that their thoughts drive their experience (not the other way around), they naturally question their perceptions. “Is it the bad weather that is giving me this bad feeling, or is it my thinking about the gray day?” Just the action of questioning one’s experience often changes it, and over time looking inward becomes habitual and people start to see more clearly how thought creates their reality from within.
Third, cognitive therapy tries to help people change their thoughts: a) after they are created, and b) from the same level of consciousness at which they are currently operating. Understanding how thought works helps people to see that their current level of consciousness, mood or state of mind is generated by the quality of their thought. A principles-based teacher helps people to see they have a “self-righting” mechanism that can be engaged and the quality of thought will change without effort. Understanding how thought works at different levels of consciousness to create our experience, recognizing that each person is the thinker, and recognizing the innate (default) ability to live in a healthy state of mind all come together to create the new paradigm we teach in The Three Principles community.
3. How is what you are teaching any different than positive thinking?
The fact that people feel better when they think positively is something everyone can get behind. But unless you are a naturally positive thinker in your habits of thought, it is a slippery slope to try control your thinking to make it more positive. This creates the practice of thought management, which in itself is unsustainable and effortful. Sometimes you get the feeling that people who are positive thinkers are trying to slap a positive thought over what they see as a negative reality.
The difference between what we do and positive thinking is the understanding that when we’re not trying to think positive, we can relax into a natural state of wellbeing. A state of wellbeing is a positive feeling that naturally comes when our minds quiet down. When we quiet down in our heads, we don’t need to force a positive feeling.
4. When first introduced to The Three Principles people often ask, "How do I apply them?"
Because we are such a society of doers, people often can’t help but look at application. Again, we point people in the direction of understanding. We want people to realize that understanding provides an obvious simple answer. We have all heard the old adage, count to ten when you’re angry before you speak. The three principles provide the logic of why this works. This is a simple example but most of us would admit that as we wait to speak our experience of our anger changes. Sometimes it resolves itself. For some people it gets stronger. But the point is that our experience changes, and we begin to see that thought is the culprit, and there is nothing to do but understand this phenomena and that understanding applies itself.
5. I am really thrilled with what I am learning and seeing from getting engaged with the Principles. But ...
… I don’t know how to help my family.There are so many messed-up people in my life, but they don’t want to listen to me telling them to read Sydney Banks’ books or listen to videos. They think I’ve gone off the deep end and am out of touch with how horrible life really is. What should I do?
People who have spent a while involved with the Principles realize that their own understanding and deeper feelings are all they have to share. It is impossible to share the Principles as information or knowledge; the sharing is in the feeling and our confidence in the innate health in all people. To the degree we see other people as “messed up,” we are missing the point. There are many people in all our lives who are struggling with their dysfunctional thinking, or living at the mercy of a “reality” they have made up themselves without realizing where it comes from. Talking about that to people who are in a low state of mind is pointless. But loving them unconditionally, not seeing them as “damaged” or “messed up”, but simply as temporarily “lost in thought” without understanding, allows you to be in their presence in a different, non-urgent, non-judgmental way. And we have to accept the fact that we all have free will; a person who is committed to their thinking may not listen, may not pick up on the feeling, may not be inclined to change. And no matter what, they will do it on their own “schedule,” when they find a moment of quiet and get an insight for themselves. So we can’t fix or change others; we can only have faith and confidence that they are, truly, fine at the core, no matter how they are using their thinking at this time. And at any moment, they might see that. Our good feeling nurtures the space for such a moment, but does not guarantee it.
6. Isn’t this the same as so many other kinds of “truth,” or spirituality, like Buddhism, meditation, yoga or other religions?
Sydney Banks used to say, “the Truth is everywhere.” The “truth” that you are whole, complete and need nothing for your happiness has shown up in some form in probably every religion and spiritual tradition that has graced the face of this earth. The problem is that “truth” becomes tied to a particular concept, a thought structure, a name, a physical shape or form, a bodily or mental technique, a “type” of meditation, a location within the body, some “sacred” location on earth, or somewhere “out there” in the cosmos. When this happens, we actually lose the essential truth that truth is everywhere. Most importantly, truth is in each person. When someone hears something from “outside”, from a teacher, book, movie, friend or relative… and it strikes a chord — it lights up something inside of the person—it does so because the truth was already there, within the person.
7. What makes what you do so different from all the other quests I’ve undertaken?
I spent years as a “seeker” and tried all kinds of New Age approaches and so on. Finally, I just gave it all up. I don’t feel any better, deep-down, than when I started. What makes what you do so different from all the other quests I’ve undertaken?
First of all, the answer is in your question: people don’t need to “seek” the Principles because the Principles are who and what we are. They describe the very essence of the human spirit, the spiritual, energetic truth that is life itself. So you already “have” wisdom, peace of mind, calm, creativity – all the benefits that come from understanding the Principles – within you, available to you, and, as Mr. Banks often said, “only one thought away.” That thought would be some insight particular to you that you are fine, you are whole, and any distress or dysfunction you experience psychologically is just negative thinking taken seriously, without understanding. Once people “see” for themselves the Principles in operation, they are no longer living at the mercy of their own thoughts. There is nothing to seek; they realize they are creating their own lives moment-to-moment.
8. Why is it so important to “understand’ the Principles?
I know people who are happy and content and getting along fine in life, and they don’t know anything about the Principles. Why is it so important to “understand’ the Principles?
Innate health is just that – innate to all people, a truth about all of us. Some people never fall into the habit of overriding their own clear-headed, in-the-moment, responsive thinking. So they live their lives naturally as an expression of their innate resiliency and well-being. For those people who lose touch with their innate health, or think their way away from it, coming to an understanding of the Principles points the way back to it. For those people who live at ease, coming to an understanding of the Principles explains things to them and gives them a way to share the explanation of their contentment with others.