Saturday, October 3, 2009

Thoughts Create Reality

The theory of visualization is based on the assumption that if we see something in our mind, it has a greater chance of becoming real. When I applied to Harvard Business School, I visualized myself walking around Cambridge. I saw myself on the campus attending classes and in my mind I received the diploma at graduation. One month later, I was accepted into the program. I’m pretty sure that my visualization had no effect on the Admissions Committee’s decision, but I will never know for sure. Maybe I put thoughts into the universe that subconsciously affected the subjective nature of the applications process. Maybe I was a borderline acceptance -- perhaps the reviewer just had a “gut” feel that it was the right decision.

Visualization affects reality. In sports, competitors are taught to visualize their ultimate success. This method of training has been shown to improve performance. Thoughts create something; and it is an energy that instantaneously appears in the universe. Thought forms seem to have a life of their own.

According to Shakti Gawain in his book, Creative Visualization, he states, “In the past, many of us have used our power of visualization in a relatively unconscious way. Based on our deep-seated negative concepts about life, we have automatically and unconsciously expected and imagined lack, limitations, difficulties and problems to be our lot in life. To one degree or another that is what we have created for ourselves…Imagination is the ability to create an idea or mental picture in your mind. With creative visualization, you use your imagination to create a clear image of something you wish to manifest. Then you continue to focus on the idea or picture regularly, giving it positive energy until it becomes objective reality.”

When we fantasize about someone, it creates sexual energy. When we express hatred toward someone, it creates negative energy. If we feel good about ourselves, others are naturally drawn to us. If we get a haircut and wear new clothes, we feel more attractive and not surprisingly, our social relationships improve. I once knew a woman who was overweight. She saw herself as sexy and consequently, everyone believed it. She wore skimpy outfits that others who were as heavy would have been embarrassed to wear. Yet when she wore revealing clothes, she only looked more beautiful. One day I decided to be called by middle name Devin, instead of my first name, Lisa. I started dating 23 guys in only three months. I was convinced that my new popularity was the result of my new name. However, after the novelty of the name wore off, I had to face the truth. People weren’t responding to the name, Devin, they were responding to the visualization of myself when I was called by a different name.

Many believe that our thoughts about the afterlife completely influence what we will find. A common theory is that certain people get stuck in the thought forms that were created on earth. If individuals believe there is a Hell and if they think that they have failed, they will find the Hell that existed in their mind. Even if Hell doesn’t exist, it exists for them.

If our thoughts are as powerful as it appears, then all we need to do is to think something to make it become real. If we can honestly imagine ourselves successful, we will succeed. Constantly our thought forms have materialized in reality. How many times has someone thought about another person, only to receive a call from him or her a few minutes later? There have also been known cases where prayer has held people to earth, even though it was their time to leave. In a documented case, a person was on the verge of death but couldn’t make the transition because her loved ones were praying too hard for her to stay alive. She begged them to stop praying, and once they agreed, she died only a few hours later.

Creativity is the physical manifestation of thought. Artists create first in their mind and their art exists only after their thoughts have become real. Thoughts can also destroy creativity. If a writer creates a barricade that stagnates expression, the words cannot flow.

According to Gawain, “When we create something, we always create it first in a thought form. A thought or idea always precedes manifestation. The idea is like a blueprint; it creates an image of the form, which then magnetizes and guides the physical energy to flow into that form and eventually manifests it onto the physical plane… If you constantly think of illness, you will eventually become ill; if you believe yourself to be beautiful, you become so.”

If we believe that soulmates exist, we can usually find them. Yet if we believe that soulmates are only a figment of the imagination, they usually are. How much of reality is truly the result of our thoughts? We all need to try an experiment. Visualize an end result every day for at least 10 minutes a day. The visualization can be as easy as having a detailed daydream. At the end of a month, see if the thought form becomes real. It is important to actually believe the thoughts that come into our heads. If we have doubt or think that our thoughts are only fantasies, we are creating other thought forms that have an equal probability of becoming real. It is also important to base the monthly expectation on events that can happen in only 30 days. For instance, if the visualization is to be a President of a company and the person is currently working as an administrative assistant, the goal of reaching the Presidency will not happen by the end of the month. It is also important to be sure that someone else is not visualizing an opposite outcome. For instance, we can visualize dating someone every day but if that same person has no interest in seeing us again, the visualization probably will not materialize.

The most highlighted case of thoughts becoming real is in out of body experiences. Every thought creates an event. If you think of yourself in Paris, you instantaneously arrive. If you have fear about returning to the body, you immediately wake up in bed. Every thought influences our experiences and fears can become real. If certain people are afraid of mounting responsibilities, they may actually find themselves in a situation that is almost impossible to resolve (e.g., they are unable to dig themselves out of a ditch). The events feel real, but they are only a result of the person’s thoughts and fears.

Thoughts also become real in our perceptions of others. If we believe that a person is cruel, we notice only heartless behavior. A person appears to be malicious even if he or she is actually a nice person. If we want to believe the world is good, it probably is. We see what we want to see and our perceptions about reality create it. There is a cliché that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. This is another example of thoughts that become real. If we can see inner beauty, a person of average looks becomes beautiful and a person of extraordinary looks can appear average.

Success in business is often based on perceptions about reality. It has been hard for women to rise to the top of the business ladder, not because they are less capable but only because many people believe that women are not natural leaders and they were not born for “greatness.” Many people also have problems viewing a woman as the President of this country. Right or wrong, we have had only male Presidents because we believe that a man appears to be a stronger Head of State and Commander of the Military. Perception as reality is actually the basis of our foreign policy. If other countries believe we are the strongest nation in the world, it works to our advantage. Regardless of reality, the perceptions of our strength actually reinforce it.

Once we realize that our thoughts create reality, we have incredible power over all the events in our lives. All we have to do is to believe the desired outcome, and it becomes true. When we enter a relationship, we need to put our fears aside. If we meet a person we want to marry, we just need to conceptualize it. More likely than not, our thoughts will create the truth (unless our partner is visualizing the opposite).

The power of visualization means that what we meditate on, we create. That is one of the problems with the ritual of confession. Confession focuses on the sins that have been committed, instead of the good acts that we have achieved. Why don’t we say, “Father, this week I have done 12 positive things.” The confession ritual institutionalizes a focus on the image that we all are sinners, instead of the image that we all have the potential to be caring, thoughtful human beings.

When I was younger, I learned about the power of visualization and when I looked in the mirror, I saw who I wanted to be instead of who I was. I eventually found myself evolving into my own perception. The belief that thoughts create reality also means that our failures are completely our responsibility. If we didn’t find love, it was because we couldn’t successfully visualize love in our lives. I thought my absence of love was due to a long period of bad luck, until one day, I realized that I had created my own reality. I obviously wanted to stay alone even if I verbalized different thoughts.

According to Shakti Gawain, there are four basic steps for turning visualizations into reality. 1) Set a goal, 2) Create a clear idea or picture of what you want to accomplish, 3) Focus on it often, and 4) Give it positive energy (through affirmations). Gawain states, “Creative visualization is a means of unblocking or dissolving barriers we ourselves have created to the naturally harmonious, abundant and loving flow of the universe.” He also describes that there are three elements that determine whether creative visualization will be successful. They include desire, belief and acceptance. You have to want to achieve the goal, believe that it is possible, and accept the consequences of the outcome. It is also important to go with the flow of the energy without creating unnecessary obstacles, feeling fear, or over-intellectualizing the process.

Positive affirmations are an important tool for accomplishing personal objectives. Psychologists have known for years that what we say influences what we think and feel. According to David Meyers, “Positive talk promotes positive attitudes. Complaining magnifies discontent. Social psychologists call it the ‘saying becomes believing’ effect. When the subjects of countless experiments speak or write on behalf of some point of view, they come to believe it more strongly.”

Before I could write, I had to believe that I was a writer. I knew that if I perceived myself as something else, I would never be able to express my thoughts in words. The day I called myself a writer was the day I wrote my first article. Now my words flow faster than I can write them down.

Perception creating reality also explains why two people can be at the same event and experience completely different things. If someone assumes that a social function will be a disappointment, it usually is. Another person with different expectations can be at the same function and have an exceptionally good time. Two witnesses of a crime scene may also see different events because their assumptions modify reality.

Over time, philosophers have discussed the distinction between perception and reality. Usually, the consensus is that perception is the same as reality. There is an old question, “If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one in the vicinity, does it make a sound?” The purpose of the question is to ask whether perception is the only element in determining reality. The truth is that the tree makes a sound even if no one is able to hear it. The definition of sound is the transmission of sound waves and they exist whether they are perceived or not.

However, most people say that the definition of sound is the ability to perceive its existence. I suppose that means that sound in the next apartment isn’t really “sound” to anyone else. Everyone lives in their own reality and the sounds heard by them are the only real sounds that exist in their world. It is based on the theory that if we can’t perceive something, it doesn’t exist. When we couldn’t see atoms or quarks, we wouldn’t believe that they were real. It didn’t mean that they didn’t exist, but for most of us, their lack of perception caused them not to exist. Electricity also existed long before we had discovered how to use it. We may not have recognized the power of electricity but that doesn’t mean that its power did not exist.

Time is subject to different definitions of reality. The present, past, and future are only relative. The future is only a millisecond away from the present and the present is only a millisecond away from the past. Within one second, the past, present and future have all manifested themselves. We can see someone after six months and it feels like only two days. Some days feel like they last an hour while other days feel like they last a month. 24 hours just isn’t equal because of perception. When you cross the International Date Line, an entire 24-hour period completely disappears. One minute it is Tuesday the 12th, and the next minute it is Thursday, the 14th. The reality of time may not even exist. It may exist only in our minds. If time travel were possible, time would become completely instable. Today, we could be hit by a car, but if we could travel back in time, the event could disappear entirely. We perceive this world through our mathematical principles of time and space -- but it is only a perception. Time and space disappear in dreams and out of body experiences. If they can disappear when our consciousness is altered, are we really sure that objectively, they exist at all? Schopenhauer says, “space and time are the Veil of Maya – Illusion hiding the unity of all things.”

There is a big difference between subjective reality and objective reality. In Quantum physics, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle states that as our subjective perception of an object changes, the objective reality changes as well. We live in a world shaped by our subjective realities and we may never know the true or objective reality. There is a truth in the world, even if we don’t know what it is. Some things are clear. There is a sun in the sky and it warms our bodies. This is probably objectively true; but we don’t really know for sure. It could be like the movie The Truman Show. Maybe the sun is just a powered heat source that keeps us alive during some external experiment that we know nothing about. “The Matrix” was the perfect movie about perception vs. reality. The subjective reality for every human being on earth was fabricated through computerized simulations; and the truth about the objective reality would have been devastating if it had been discovered (since their actual bodies were being sustained in test tubes while their minds thought they were living normal lives on Earth).

A refutation of objective reality was explained in A Brief History of Western Philosophy, by Anthony Kenny. According to Protagoras (a sophist), “On the most likely interpretation, this means that whatever, whether through perception or through thought, appears to a particular person to be true, is true for that person. This does away with objective truth: nothing can be true absolutely, but only relative to an individual. When people differ in belief, there is no way in which one of them is right and the other wrong.” According to Kenny, “Democritus, and later Plato, objected that Protagoras’ doctrine destroyed itself. For if all beliefs are true, then among true beliefs is the belief that not every belief is true.”

Sometimes perception creates reality because it is easier to live up to others’ expectations than to convince them of the truth. For example, some people may believe that a man has many girlfriends and treats them all casually without any potential for serious commitment. Since it is hard to prove the reverse, it may be easier just to continue the perception, as long as no harm is done. A person who may be just like everyone else assumes an identity only because others perceive it to be true.

Thoughts are like clay. They can be molded to form any shape that we want; but once the image becomes formed, the clay hardens into something that seems real and permanent. Thoughts may feel personal but once they are experienced, they are placed into the world either consciously or subconsciously. We think that people don’t know our feelings but they always do (even if they rationalize them differently). We might not tell individuals that we don’t like them, but they know. The thought form has taken shape and reveals itself in its own subtle way. If others cannot accept the truth, they will just create whatever perception is most palatable.

Adultery is technically defined as having sexual thoughts about another person while we are married to someone else. Indirectly, the definition is saying that thoughts create reality. The thought becomes the betrayal instead of the resulting action. Often some thoughts can be more damaging than actions. For instance, if a particular woman secretly falls in love with someone she is not married to, she has committed a greater form of betrayal than having casual sex with a stranger.

Reality changes on the basis of different people’s perceptions. For example, psychotic patients may just have a different view of reality. In their reality, certain people may exist even though these same people cannot be seen by others. The borderline between “normal” and “abnormal” may simply be a difference in degrees of perception. If individuals’ perceptions are noticeably different from the norm, they are classified as having a mental illness. If their view of reality conforms to other people’s views, then they are “normal.”

The way we see reality may be similar or different from others’ perceptions of the world. It doesn’t mean that one reality is right and another is wrong. If individuals see a yellow sky instead of a blue one, they might not be “crazy.” Perhaps, they are the only people who can see the sky’s true color. It’s easy to judge others if they disagree with our perceptions. The challenge in life is to understand that we are all limited by our own perceptions and that the ultimate reality of our existence may remain a mystery forever.

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