Positively Negative

will's picture

I had an interesting experience not long ago with a friend who had gotten a bit offended by something I had written. I was accused of spreading negativity. I was told I was harming people and that I should always be positive like he was. It was all very condemning and aggressive, which was all very odd because that sort of energy isn't what I'd normally consider to be positive at all.

I had another friend who was always very "Love & Light". He would always leave positive, encouraging comments, and never said anything negative. Then one day things didn't work out with the woman he was in love with, and there was a transformation like Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. His hope and love suddenly turned into anger and despair. It was like someone had flipped a switch, and all his light suddenly turned into darkness. He raged for a couple days, and then went right back to being "Love & Light", though he seemed a little wiser than before.

I also lived next to someone for a while who I had heard others describe as the most positive and spiritual person they knew. He did all the stereotypical spiritual things, yoga, chanting, all sorts of different practices and was a strict vegan too. He would go way out of his way to help people, and from all appearances, was about as positive a person as you can get. Then the cops took him away for child abuse...

People are practicing a dangerous kind of positivity, one that's little more than a mask, a kind of self-denial. Negative thinking certainly isn't any fun, but you can't just ignore those thoughts. If you do, you shove them into your unconscious mind where they sit there and wait for an opportunity to come out again. Hell hath no fury like a "positive thinker" scorned. They aren't used to dealing with negative emotion, so if they can't stuff it back down, they lose control and that can be very ugly or even violent.

Now I'm sure for some people there's alarms going off in their heads after reading what I've written. I'm being critical of positive thinking, so I must be encouraging negative thinking! Nope! What I'm encouraging is self-awareness. If you have negative thoughts, look at them, don't avoid them. Look at what triggers those negative thoughts, look to their roots. Catch yourself thinking negatively, be very aware, see the unconscious reactions. The more you do this, the more you truly diffuse negative thinking instead of just ignoring it.

This approach is fundamentally different than the standard, "positive thinking" approach. That's just one of many many ways people avoid dealing with negative emotions. Denial of negative emotions is the root of all addictions, and you'd better watch out when a positive thoughts junkie doesn't get their fix.

Now I'm not gonna claim positive thinking is bad, given the choice I'd go with positive thinking over negative thinking, but people who try to only think positive thoughts are almost always engaging in a form of denial. If you're truly honest about the state of society and the experiences people are having each day, you have to acknowledge there's negativity there. The whole human race experiences this, you can't just disconnect from the collective consciousness by "thinking positively". Aware or unaware, you are connected to other people, and you can't help but have negativity enter your field sometimes even if you have none of your own, which is unlikely.

Just to be fair, I should include the problems with negative thinking too. If you desire things you believe you will never have, that belief becomes a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe you're going to lose, you'll do worse, and if you believe you're going to win, you'll do better. Negative thinking is destructive, self-sabotaging, and unhealthy for the body too. So negative thinking is "bad", and while this may sound contradictory, I'm also saying not to deny any negative thoughts.

It's important to understand what happens when you deny a negative thought. When you deny it, it doesn't just disappear. If that's the way it worked, denial would be this amazing force for healing, but that's not the way it works. Denial is itself a negative thought, so instead of removing a negative thought from your mind through denial, you're actually adding one.

Now the dualistic mind is going to be asking itself, should I be positive, or should I be negative, without realizing there's a third option, transcendence. Now there's some who say to transcend positive and negative you choose neither, you become neutral. Then there's those who say transcendence is an integration between the two, like the yin-yang. In a sense, both are true and in another sense, both are false. They are attempts to translate transcendent thought into a way a dualistic mind can grasp it, which really isn't possible. Non-linear thought cannot be understood by linear thought. Linear thought has limited options, while non-linear thought has endless options.

Someone who has transcended positive and negative thinking is extremely unpredictable. Most religions and spiritual traditions have a very specific image of what a transcendent being is supposed to look like. People think it's a good thing because they have example of how to live "properly", but it's really one of religion's worst poisons. A transcendent being is like no one but themselves, and when new ones comes along, the established religions inevitably call them false. The ones who could really assist humanity are either ignored, fought against, or even killed, and often a new religion is born afterwards. Even in spite of the best intentions, those kinds of entities can't help but feed back into this cycle.

One thing that helps to transcend positive and negative thinking is to understand those two terms are fundamentally meaningless. What's good for one person is bad for another. What's good one day is bad the next. What seems to be negative may turn out to be positive. Facing negative emotion can lead to positive healing. It's really your mind creating good and bad, your mind labeling things good or bad. Your own mind, even though it is based around what you've been taught by your parents, friends, religions, schools, media, and governments, it's still your mind. When there's a conflict, which country is correct? When religions contradict, which is correct? For dualistic people this is a great conundrum, what's right and what's wrong, what's truth and what's lies? People can't help but have doubts.

Transcendence is not about knowing good and bad, transcendence is about being, experiencing, and feeling. There are those who believe if you drop all ideas of right and wrong you'll be evil, and in a sense that can happen for people who only do it philosophically, something called moral relativism. Transcendence is not a philosophical understanding though, it's not some cheap rationalization. Within transcendence is a kind of virtue that goes beyond any religious or societal teachings. When you stop separating things with your mind, you stop separating yourself from other people, and then you truly understand what it means to love another as yourself.


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Will's article, Positively Negative

john.allerdice@yahoo.com's picture

This essay gets me to take a closer look at myself and how I sometimes stuff and deny matters I need to deal with in the name of false positivity. I hope you will write on transcendence more, Will. Do you consider it to be the viewpoint of true self? It isn't bypassing obstacles is it.

The mind is very clever, it

will's picture

The mind is very clever, it can easily turn transcendence into a mental concept and use it as a vehicle for avoidance. Real transcendence is not a mental concept though, it doesn't come through rationalization or by thinking about it. It's when all that mental activity stops, which is the whole goal of meditation, that non-dual states of Consciousness begin to emerge. That's real transcendence.

I wouldn't really say transcendence is the viewpoint of the true self, it's not really a point of view. It's a state of consciousness that encompasses all points of view.


john.allerdice@yahoo.com's picture

Thank you for the clarification. Beyond mental thoughts and dualities. All-encompassing. Thinking misses the mark.