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Freedom from Negative Emotions. Enlightened Perceptions

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In this world the Middle Ages reign, that’s completely obvious… But at least there are already people who want strange things. That is beautiful, men who want strange things! And those men, of course, are feared. Those men also have a long road ahead of them. They will be burned at the stake, crucified, imprisoned behind iron bars, then behind barbed wire…

Arkadiy and Boris Strugatsky


    01-01 General information about negative emotions (NE)

    Year after year, day after day, minute after minute, second after second people keep experiencing negative emotions (NE) and negative states that include NE: jealousy, self-pity, fear, anger, hatred, irritation, discontent, bitterness, fury, confusion, insult, spite, envy, concerns, worries, anxiety, contempt, disgust, shame, humiliation, rancor, apathy, laziness, sadness, grief, disappointment, greed, and so on and so on.

    I am not exaggerating – people DO experience NE each and every second. Follow your own perceptions – don’t you feel any anxiety about the future, any concerns about other people’s opinions, any discontent at this very moment? Almost certainly, you do. We’ve got used to ignore these emotions, but they still exist. More or less pronounced, they are always there, and that’s why we don’t even notice them anymore. Even when intense NE burst out (which happens hundreds of times per day), we manage to fool ourselves and imagine that our NE are sparse. Such a stance is harmful. We refuse to see and acknowledge that every second we experience something unpleasant, every second we take poison, but it doesn’t make the poison less toxic. Imagine an ill person who pretends to be completely healthy despite permanently feeling bad. This person is in for a fast destruction.

    There’s no shame in admitting to yourself, or even to those around you, that you permanently experience unpleasant sensations. The first step towards healing your illness is to stop ignoring it.

    Selection of attractive states, or selection of attractive perceptions (SAP), outlined in this book, lies in gradual replacement of unwanted perceptions with desirable ones. This forms a habit of experiencing pleasant states rather than unpleasant ones. It’s very easy. It is so easy that I am still surprised how come people didn’t figure it out back thousands of years before me? A desire to substitute unpleasant perceptions with pleasant ones is all that is required for such a habit to be formed. The replacement should be as firm and persistent as possible, until the new habit beats the old, once mechanically formed one. This activity is rather simple as the only key requirement for it to work is your own desire to change your perceptions and become a little bit happier.

    As a person detects and eliminates NE (for more on the concept of “elimination”, please see “Foreword”, as well as below), it becomes clear that, in addition to strong and noticeable NE, there always are a lot of minor ones. It is no exaggeration to say that almost any event in our lives is accompanied by minor outbursts of NE. Mostly those are discontent, irritation, various anxieties. They are followed by a barely perceptible “tail” that fuels further what is already ultradense negative background. Altogether, this creates a toxic emotional vibe. The consequences can be grave if only because such a vibe practically kills our pleasure to live.

    This dominance of NE causes what we call “aging”, which, contrary to the common belief, doesn’t begin at forty or fifty but at twenty — twenty-five, or even earlier. Our skin doesn’t simply become less smooth – it gets unpleasant to see and touch, our bodies and faces become flabby, ugly, distorted, covered with fat or dried and drained out. Body odors become repulsive and strong. Our health is getting worse, but we don’t even realize we’re going through these changes since everything happens very slowly, so we and those around us get used to that new looks. We feel fatigue when we wake up in the morning, we can’t easily fall asleep at night, we start to grunt, we’re apathetic, we need more stimulators — coffee, robotic sex, primitive impressions. Those surrounding the aging person continue to see him or her in the same way as before, by all means ignoring the obvious, which makes things even worse. One girl once wrote to me that after reading my book she looked at her husband and suddenly saw an obese, flabby, ugly-faced and empty-eyed man. It struck her since until then she’d been seeing him in the same way as ten years earlier. People repress the fact that they or their close ones are going through gradual unpleasant changes.

    People age and consider it completely normal, while, in fact, what’s so normal about it? The human body wears out as a result of certain genetic processes. Thus think those who know little about genetics, whereas in reality new self-regeneration mechanisms are discovered every day.

    Much less normal seem to me other dramatic changes usually associated with aging process, such as dementia, sluggishness, senility, grumpiness, depression, dullness, anhedonia, loss of joyful wishes, etc. Besides, there were so many people who reached old age having managed to keep vivid mind, cold reason, ability to enjoy life and, strangely enough, even physical attractiveness, although signs of aging could be easily found on their faces. And those people had no idea about the Selection and couldn’t benefit from it! Imagine the advantages knowing about the Selection gives us? These people lived their lives in the state of creative pursuit, which triggered many enlightened perceptions, such as sense of beauty, tenderness, anticipation, sense of mystery, serenity, joy of creative activity, enthusiasm, sympathy, amusement, sincerity and many others. Apparently, it was these experiences that helped postpone aging and prevent dementia and senility.

    I am absolutely positive that all or almost all diseases are caused or, at least, supported and fuelled by NE. Since the discovery of pathogenic bacteria and viruses, humans, including microbiologists, have believed that germs are pathogenic as such, and a disease develops whenever they get inside the body and the immune system fails to neutralise them. However, it all proved wrong. It turns out that germs can lead peaceful and mutually beneficial coexistence with humans. A lethal dose of cholera vibrios might not have any impact on a human, while a light flu might kill him. Some organisms recently considered to be parasites often turn out to be life-saving (see Carl Zimmer’s amazing book “Parasite Rex”). There is something inside a human being that creates conditions to undermine the immune system, turning peaceful microorganisms into killers. A recent research proved stress being a great killing force that suppresses the immune system. Usually stress refers to an intense and long-lasting outburst of NE. I believe that scientists are about to prove that even weak negative background, weak NE are poison that we take on our own every second (please note that I came to this conviction back in 1999). The opposite is true: a man who experiences few NE and a lot of enlightened perceptions wouldn’t get ill even in least favourable conditions. The eternal war of mankind against illnesses reminds me of the war between the humans and the animals in Harry Harrison’s “Deathworld”. Basically, we are fighting against our own aggressive or depressive reflection, and the more powerful weapons we use (for example, antibiotics), the more we suffer, becoming increasingly vulnerable. Many scientists realize this already, but the resistance of powerful pharmaceutical corporations is still as strong as that of global tobacco companies dragging people into deathly addiction.

    According to modern convictions, people get sick due to viruses and bacteria. I am positive, though, that those germs only turn maleficent in bodies of those who experience too many NE, and there must be a correspondence between certain illnesses and types of prevailing NE. When sometimes those who practice selection of perceptions and reach higher levels of freedom from NEs shift back and experience NE, they are amazed to see that something incredible starts to happen with their bodies: they begin to sense discomfort or pain, fatigue, they feel heavy, weak, sluggish. All of that happens after just an hour, or even a few minutes of facing negative background, after just a few intense outbursts of NE! In the moments like that it becomes especially clear that we are bound to permanently live in this unhealthy state unless we eliminate NE. People are always experiencing one NE or another, either in the form of intense outbursts, even sprees, or weak negative background of concern, anxiety, discontent, self-pity, sadness, etc. Thus, our bodies are under the constant pressure of this poison.

    For those who observe NE in action, it is absolutely clear that NE not only erode the body but far worse: they completely destroy the ability to experience joyful wishes, mental clarity and enlightened perceptions. In some severe cases NE turn a person into a living dead who may walk the earth for many more years, decomposing slowly, looking alive on the outside but empty on the inside.

    Many people, feeling a growing discomfort, an increasing pointlessness of life, seek ways to get back to being happy and rush into yoga or religion. They strike elaborate poses, murmur bizarre spells, talk to imaginary creatures and naively believe it could free them from suffering. Sometimes it actually helps due to their conviction that there must be a result, a psychological placebo of a sort. But mostly it is a monkey business, because people don’t understand the real reasons why their lives go in the doldrums. They do not realize that they need to fight against NE, dullness and mechanical wishes in the first place and cherish joyful wishes and enlightened perceptions.

    A society that has not taken a resolute and strong stance against NE and dogmatism will never live in peace. Neither creating even more complicated laws or even crueller punishments, nor inventing devices and mechanisms would prove effective.

    The world you are living in is the world of NE — and this is no exaggeration. They have so many manifestations, they are so intertwined with the life itself, that sometimes it seems there’s nothing else besides NE, and all you can do is refine them, diversify them, twist them, combine with each other, make them more multi-layered and intense. NE surround you everywhere, they are imposed and cultivated. Not to mention such obvious things as the cult of violence and experiencing NE in books or movies. Open any fiction book considered good and deep — you will find there refined NE, strong NE, complex NE, and the more they resonate with reader’s NE, mixed with relief and contentment, the better. After all, where would any books that describe life of a person experiencing enlightened perceptions come from? Writing about it requires personal experience, and there are too few people like that in the world.

    01-02 NE: who is to blame for them? Negative background (NB)

    One of the biggest misconceptions of a modern human being is the idea that people do not choose to experience NE, but other people or circumstances force them to do that. This dogma is 100% wrong, and those who strongly believe in it become powerless even they would want to experience less NE. I claim based on my experience and the experience of people who practice selection of perceptions: whether you experience NE or not only depends on you, your efforts in overcoming this awful habit.

    This may seem strange. If you are fired, or your wife dumped you, or if you broke your leg — doesn’t that mean that NE should appear? Is it normal not to feel NE in such situations? Is this even possible? Before answering these questions, I suggest to think about the following: I think all of us have met people of a specific type who are surprisingly oversensitive about matters that seem mere trifles to you. Every person has his own «thing» – subjects in which it’s very easy to hurt or offend him. You’re looking at this person and just wondering, why did he get so worked up? Another kind of situation is also possible – the same type of thing may «cause» and may «not cause» irritation in you on different circumstances. For example, you’re in a great mood, and somebody stepped on your foot. You just think: «No big deal», and go on with experiencing something nice. In another type of situation, when you’re in a bad mood, the guy who stepped on your foot inevitably «causes» irritation.

    So it’s absolutely clear that talking about «causing» NE is illogical because it totally depends on your mood whether you’ll experience irritation from something or not. This is true for the vast majority of situations in our lives.

    People have a huge number of certainties, and among them, there are both those that are based on experience (day follows night) and those that are totally stupid (it’s inappropriate for a girl to wear a bikini in the subway). There is a specific type of certainties among these parasitic and destructive certainties which determine our emotional reactions in some situations and that are these certainties that «cause» NE, not the situations themselves.
    We can discuss the broken leg situation or the situation of being fired, but first of all, I’d like to state the main thing: we don’t get fired and we don’t break our legs that often. A vast majority of NE we experience in our ordinary routine life situations in which there is no immediate threat to our health and life. And it is this mass of NE that destroys us every day, every hour, every minute and every second.

    “Every second” seems an exaggeration, doesn’t it? But this is exactly the case. Alas, that’s just how it is. Of course, we don’t experience anger or irritation every second, but every second we feel a whole bunch of weak NE: anxiety about things at work, children’s behavior, anxiety about this and that, embarrassment about some old situation, concern over people’s opinions, etc. These weak NE are dragged out as a thin (sometimes thick) layer throughout all of our time – I call them «negative background» (NB). The most unpleasant part is that we’re used to them so much that we have long ceased to be aware that they exist and that they poison our lives.

    Speaking about broken legs…generally you can do without experiencing NE even in this case if you practice eliminating small NE in your current environment. That’s hard, I agree, but it’s possible. Anyway, it’s not really that important, if you experience NE in some situation or not. The most fatal thing is these weak, frequent NE spread over our life as a thin layer. That’s the most dangerous poison, the most lethal weapon used against every human being by himself.

    Suggesting to eliminate NE, I don’t offer to put up with the situations in which they come up. On the contrary, I suggest to actively change your life by following your joyful wishes, and it’s the NE that prevent you from finding out what you really want and how to achieve it most effectively. But while changing your life, do not forget to eliminate NE at the same time, do not give up to them spinelessly. Actually, I think that as long as you’re alive due to this very fact you have perfect conditions for the selection of your perceptions under any circumstances. At the same time, I support active involvement in the course of events, active arrangement and rearrangement of own life according to your preferences and joyful wishes.

    01-03 How people feel about the idea of eliminating NEs

    01-04 An effort to eliminate NEs. Elimination and suppression of NEs

    01-05 Is it hard to make it work?

    01-06 Definition of NEs

    01-07 “Mental disorder”

    01-08 Are NEs an inherent part of personality?

    01-09 Negative background (NB) and enlightened background (EB)

    01-10 Self-destructive behavior caused by NEs

    01-11 More about the elimination and suppression of NEs

    01-12 Flawless elimination of NEs

    01-13 Do people want to experience NEs?

    01-14 Repetitive change of interpretations

    01-15 What if I want to experience some NEs?

    01-16 Attack on an isolated NE

    01-17 Controlling physical manifestation of NEs

    01-18 Keeping in mind that NEs are toxic

    01-19 Position of ‘an impartial policeman’

    01-20 Other effects of NEs: eating & sleeping disorders, etc.

    01-21 What to do in the periods of regression?

    01-22 Practicing along the way by changing simple habits

    01-23 Repetitive change of states

    01-24 Limited total control (LTC) practice

    01-25 Situation control. Enlightened trigger (ETr)

    01-26 Emotional polishing

    01-27 Keeping written records of experiences

    01-28 Recognition of perceptions in others

    01-29 Adverse environment

    01-30 Minor NEs

    01-31 Nothing-happens, dullness

    01-32 Misconceptions about the elimination of NEs