A friend told me the other night that she had been playing around with “neutrality.” I instantly knew what she meant, because I’ve played around with the same thing. And it is huge! If you want peace, that is… Because the neutrality of all things is, well, a fact. And trust me, I know that it totally doesn’t seem like it here on earth. So let’s talk about this neutrality thing.
If you really, really, really think about it, getting rid of all your beliefs and assumptions for a moment, maybe all things are actually neutral. As opposed to being flat out good or bad. Have you ever noticed how everybody doesn’t exactly agree on what’s good and what’s bad? (Feel free to laugh out loud at that, too). And have you ever noticed how there are things that you once thought were good that you now think are bad, and vice versa? Interesting… What’s more, maybe all thoughts are neutral. And maybe all feelings are neutral. Maybe we actually live in a neutral world, and each of us is constantly superimposing our own unique meaning and judgments onto everything that comes into our awareness. We do it automatically, starting when we’re young children, and we take this fundamental “goodness” or “badness” that we label everything with as fact. I think what’s really going on is that we like certain things and don’t like other things, and this is fine and totally normal. It’s much different than truly believing that things are either good or bad, though, and that this is the absolute truth, period, end of story. That’s heavy, and it creates massive amounts of unnecessary friction in our lives. And it’s not even the truth! If you take an innocent look, you’ll see it more and more. Pretty cool.
When you think about it, nobody can possibly put the same meaning onto the same thing. What I see is not exactly the same as what you see; that’s just not possible. A classic example is two people walking together that see a snake. The first person has a snake phobia (like me) and instantly freezes up, while the other person loves snakes (like my friend) and gets a warm fuzzy. That’s a really obvious example, so I invite you to take a look and see if this still holds true, as fact, in more subtle situations. Just be curious for a while and look for yourself!
You might even notice that you see things differently at different times, depending on how you’re feeling, what’s going on in your life, what stage of life you are in, etc. And you’re looking at the same thing, pondering the same thing. But the “you” that’s doing the looking is different! We are simply creation machines, folks, and very powerful ones at that. All of us. Including you and me. Now. We are superimposing meaning onto everything, all the time. And it’s totally personal, totally unique to us at this very moment, changing all the time as we change. When we’re doing this, what we are seeing is not an absolute reality, folks! But we assume that it is, because our society isn’t evolved enough to teach these fundamental truths in middle school. And it’s really good news that this is not reality, because when we start to consider that, we can start to chill out about things much more. It’s not all black and white, right and wrong. We don’t have to defend how we see things so much. We understand how others see things differently. We might not agree, but it’s all way more okay. We can get along better and compromise more. And maybe not blow up the planet. So we have that going for us…
Now let’s consider our thoughts. Are they are neutral, too? Or do they have this ultimate meaning of good or bad? Or do they just make you feel good or bad. Again, big difference. The more you see that the latter is true, the less you judge your thoughts, which pretty much just pop in your head, anyway. And as I’ve written about here and here, this is huge for your peace! Do you know for a fact that a “bad thought” that just pops in your head (without even asking you) is not okay? Hell no, you don’t! If you’re like most people, though, then you’ve taken this as an obvious assumption your whole life. And then you constantly crucify yourself, because clearly you’re not a very good person because you’re having these bad thoughts or mean thoughts or judgy thoughts or whatever. But does anyone else on the planet notice or even care? Nope! So just learn to watch those thoughts with amusement and let them pass. And they will. And over time, they won’t even pop in your head anymore. And if they do, who cares! They pop right out just as fast; there’s no parking lot for thoughts. As Jack Pransky says in his excellent book Somebody Should Have Told Us, and this quote might not be exact, but very, very close, “It’s not your thoughts that get you in trouble. It’s your thoughts about those thoughts that get you in trouble.” The first thought is actually neutral, but since we don’t know this we don’t just let it pass. We judge it to death. And then we feel terrible. So this is pretty cool, folks – your thoughts are actually neutral. They aren’t good or bad; they’re just thoughts. Obviously some thoughts make you feel better than others, that’s huge. But there’s no ultimate judge deciding that they are good or bad. That just doesn’t exist. Hallelujah!
Finally, what about feelings? Drumroll, please… Yes, they are neutral, too! We might prefer some over others, but as my friend and teacher John Mark Stroud says, a feeling is no different than the color yellow; it’s neutral. Some might like it and some might not. Some might be indifferent. It’s just the color yellow, though, and any meaning is all yours and is totally subject to change as you change. Liking it or not is not the same as some ultimate meaning of good or bad, though. And as hard as it may be to believe, we can actually learn to have an innocent relationship with our feelings, viewing them as exactly what they are: energy that’s flowing through our system and ultimately leaving, allowing us to feel much lighter. You really should consider reading chapter 11 of The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer if you have not, as I recently wrote about. And let me say that feelings can be tricky, understatement of the year… Just keep gently practicing, and read that chapter over and over as needed. And feelings will become less and less of an issue for you as time rolls on.
Now let’s get back to my friend. She teaches yoga, and she’s been viewing her words as she teaches as being neutral. She simply lets them flow without putting the heaviness of “good or bad” onto them. She’s not putting her energy into wondering if she’s saying good stuff or not. Can you feel how much lighter this would be, compared to how heavy we often make things? But here’s the best part: on top of this being a lighter, smoother experience for her, with none of that pressure, what she’s saying has been better than ever before! She has gotten out of the way, simply letting what naturally arises be spoken. Some call this speaking from the heart. Some say that this is the real You talking, which has been there all along, sitting patiently in the background most of the time. So my friend feels less pressure and stress, and the stuff that’s coming out of her mouth is better than it has ever been. Yes, a win-win! A student even told her that her voice sounds different, and in a good way. And the student had no idea that she was playing with neutrality! Also note that her voice was just fine before; there’s just a different energy to it now, a different quality. And this same power, this same ability, this same potential, is within each of us. Including you and me. Right now. Without even lifting a finger. So there you go, there’s a little story of “neutrality.” Explore it, play with it, be curious, and have fun as you’re doing this! And as always, let me know if I can help 🙂