Pupil: Negative attitudes cover such a vast area. How would you begin to work on them?
Abdullah: First of all you have to be aware of your own negative attitudes, see each one as it arises, and then find out where it comes from. You cannot work on it until you understand it. Many of our negative attitudes arise from the actions of other people. You have to see all angles, try to become objective to the situation, see the other person's point of view. Maybe you will decide their action was wrong; maybe you will find you have been labouring under a misapprehension. Irrespective of rights and wrongs, if your attitude is negative you are inner considering, and you will see that this is hopeless. So you have to change your attitude.
Pupil: Do you mean replace it with a positive one?
Abdullah: Yes, what you try to do is exactly that, but you can only do it by being objective to yourself. You know that our aim at these meetings is to wake you up, so you can get some idea of being objective. If you are fast asleep you will never see your negative attitudes. Hazrat Inayat Khan said the higher you climbed up the mountain the more you could see.
Pupil: I can see that something is watching the negative attitude or emotion, and that it has to be changed, but what do you actually do?
Abdullah: It is no good just stopping a negative attitude. You must put something back in its place, otherwise the negativity will crop up in another way. If you just go against something like anger, telling yourself you are not going to get angry, eventually you will stop it, but maybe it will turn to resentment or hatred. You must make sure you put something back in its place – a positive emotion, or prayer, which means you are replacing it with God.
A weakness with many people when they start working on themselves, whether through this system, Zen, or something else, is that they simply suppress their negativity, and that is really fatal. We advocate that you use a mantra. As soon as you catch a negative thought, say 'In the Ever-present Here and in the Eternal Now, I (your name) am not angry' or whatever the negativity is. In this way you stop it and replace it with God. You work on different levels. First you must recognise the negativity and struggle against it, and finally you say 'It's over to you, Allah'. If you do not have this faith, then you just have to hope that you will get it.
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Abdullah: Negative attitudes result in negative emotions of some kind, most of which are based on fear. Fear is like an octopus with tentacles going in all directions. Negative attitudes can come from essence, environment, the name part, body or ego and if we approach life negatively we will by the law of vibration attract negativity to ourselves. People who in industry are accident-prone or in ordinary life go continuously from one sickness to another are what Abdullah calls 'body people', that is, their main preoccupation is with their bodies.
All of us suffer to some degree from negative emotions and it is only by changing our inner attitudes that we will overcome them. As with most of our troubles it is first necessary to use the intellect to reconcile, followed by autosuggestion and prayer. If we remember what Gurdjieff said about choosing between dying like men or perishing like dogs, we will be able to give ourselves enough shocks to struggle against our negative attitudes.