Jamie Smart’s new book “Clarity” is basically about one idea: thoughts cause feelings. He notes that it often seems like our situation or circumstances account for how we feel, but this compelling outside-in illusion must always pass through the filter of thought. Like the clear surface of a puddle whose muddy sediment has been left alone to settle, our natural state of clarity will always return when we remember the true nature of our inside-out existence.
Smart compares this automatic system of self-correction to the human immune system. We recognize our bodies have natural abilities to heal wounds and fight off infections. So too do we possess a psychological immune system capable of restoring balance to our emotional state. Nothing need be done to activate it. It must just be noticed.
“Clarity” is full of metaphors, case studies, historical examples from various disciplines, and valuable distinctions that effectively make the case for Smart’s important premise as thoroughly as Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth” depicts the role of ego and the benefits of simply observing it. Smart’s style is far easier to read than Tolle’s, and so “Clarity” also deserves comparison to Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements” for its simplicity in presenting the profound.
There are two primary types of clarity – understanding and mind. Clarity of understanding is about the inside-out concept that feelings only and always provide a real-time reflection of thoughts. This type of clarity can be acquired in an insightful instant, like something you can’t “unsee.” Clarity of mind tends to fluctuate according to how present one may be at any given moment. The deeper the clarity of understanding, the faster the restoration of clarity of mind when it inevitably gets clouded.
Insightful learning vs. intellectual learning is another important distinction. Intellectual learning may require time for repetition, practice, or integration of multiple layers of concepts. Insightful learning introduces new paradigms all at once, like installing a mobile phone app that works immediately.
This points to the distinction between applications and implications, which Smart credits to Valda Monroe and Keith Blevens, PhD. We look for applications (procedures, techniques, how-to’s) when something is useful but we don’t really understand how it works. Grasping the principles at play reveals the broader implications that allow endless new forms of usefulness to be discovered intuitively.
Smart now calls this Innate Thinking, though he credits Sydney Banks who formulated the philosophy known as “The Three Principles” (thought, consciousness, and mind) for giving rise to his presentation of these ideas. Ultimately it is not important what this is called. Many personal development or self-help books have a lot in common. The ability of a book to resonate with a reader is based on a combination of the author’s presentation and the reader’s readiness to receive it. If a dense and complicated book such as Tolle’s can be a best seller, the potential for “Clarity” may be even greater.
Indeed, Smart writes about many examples of broad societal paradigm changes and suggests that widespread development of clarity of understanding has the potential to be as revolutionary as doctors learning the importance of scrubbing their hands and instruments because the spread of disease is caused by germs rather than smells (as previously believed). While grandiose, the implications of this are compelling.
In retrospect, outdated beliefs such as smells causing disease or the earth being flat appear to us as “superstitions,” a word Smart uses a lot to characterize emotional experiences that seem to be based on external circumstances. As the outside-in illusion becomes universally recognized as a superstition, Smart says, it will be like wiping out a pandemic mind virus that keeps huge numbers of people trapped in depression, anxiety, fear and other unwanted feelings.
We all go through life acting according to our own understanding of how things work. This means we do what makes sense to us, even if it doesn’t always make sense to others whose understanding may differ from our own. Smart became globally known about 10 years ago as a leading trainer of NLP and hypnosis. “Clarity” explains that as he grew increasingly aware of the inside-out paradigm, it no longer made sense to him to use the powerful tools of NLP and hypnosis to manage his mental and emotional states. Instead, now he argues that clarity is the default state, there’s nothing to do to achieve it, and “when you’ve got nothing on your mind, you’re free to give your best.”
So even though Smart’s central thesis is that thoughts cause feelings, he is not advocating a specific way of thinking or ways to practice making your thoughts a particular way. He says “clarity isn’t an achievement, it is a pre-existing condition,” and there is nothing to do to become aware of it because it is more of a “not-doing.” Just “point yourself in the right direction and do nothing,” says Smart. This means “looking towards what’s creating your experience of life; looking to the source of your thinking rather than the products of your thinking.”
This book at times seems so simple that the main idea is just being repeated ad infinitum. Yet it is actually filled with nuance and layers that beg for a second read. Under a sub-heading of “The morphine of self-improvement,” Smart sums it all up:
“But like the tree in my garden, it is your nature to grow. Clarity of understanding unlocks the self-love, gratitude and acceptance that are the sunlight, rainwater and nutrients of your personal evolution. While you don’t get to decide the timescale, increases in consciousness and clarity of understanding are inevitable for you when you get out of your own way, let your wisdom guide you and start enjoying your life as it is today.”
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Update: 9/19/13 10pm: This article was published in the July/August 2013 issue of the Isis Scrolls Magazine, available free throughout Northern California and Southern Oregon.
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