The Nature of Thoughts (Parts 1 and 2)
Earlier we looked at the rational mind - at its creation and programming. Our rational mind is really our external expression, in a way it is our spirits clothing. It is what interacts with the world and is continually changing. Thoughts and the relationships among them and other aspects of our awareness are the substance of our rational mind. The key to being able to work with thoughts is knowing their nature - what they are and how they interact and change.
Our minds, and hence our thoughts are greatly misunderstood and grossly underestimated. This is primarily because their nature is mysterious, personal and difficult to share even if you can find the words. Science can now “read” some thoughts with very sophisticated equipment; however, this tells us nothing about them, their synergies and dynamics. From a personal perspective, we know our thoughts do change, yet to us they still seem rigid, almost fixed. It is precisely for this reason that people make statements such as “that is the way I am”, or “I cannot change that about myself”.
Thoughts can be limiting, scary, hurtful and angry; however, they can also be compassionate, powerful, enlightening, mystifying, beautiful and wondrous. I am sure most would choose the latter set of attributes. To develop one set and not the other we need to fill the gaps in our knowledge of thoughts. By doing so, we empower our rational mind and its powerful active awareness. This enables us to explore further into our thoughts and their affect on us. With some effort, we can become aware of the consequences of individual thoughts and how they affect the choices we make.
At any moment in time the nature of each thought we have, at both the conscious and non-conscious level, reflects aspects of who we are. To grow, either personally or spiritually (which requires both), we must work with our thoughts; they truly are the window to our souls. Awareness of our thoughts enables us to gain deeper and broader access to the experiences, memories and associated thoughts that gave rise to them. This awareness is the best way to clarity regarding the sources of our issues.
Through our awareness of our thoughts, we begin to see connections among and within events and gain new insights into ourselves. For example, we can perceive the relationship between ideas and intent and the resulting manifestations at the emotion and physical levels. We can also start to understand how our ideas and beliefs manifest in apparently random but connected ways. They are the source of what we attract in life and the reasons we act and think the way we do and are the way we are. Learning about thoughts is knowledge we can use to make fundamental change in our lives. Consider that the statement “I think therefore I am” implies that “I am what I think”.
To meaningfully examine thoughts we must talk about what they are and their impact. We will begin with the common understanding of a thoughts is. The Wikipedia definition of a thought is:
This definition identifies a thought as a mental form and thinking as a process that involves thought. While this definition is adequate, it does not even begin to examine just what kind of “thing” is a thought. Nor does it adequately explain what a mental form is. In order to begin to understand what kind of a “thing” a thought is we need to dig a little deeper.
It is not important that we try to define the physics of a thought, or give a literal description of its structure. One does not need to understand this to work with thoughts, we have been doing it our entire lives; however, to understand thoughts we must think about them. I am referring to the dynamics of thought not the physics. We are interested in training our rational minds not educating it. It inherently knows the physics of itself, what is lacking is the intent and desire to change, and the awareness of how to do it within an active consciousness.
I will touch on why we have not explored thought itself in any way that is meaningful to the average person. Thoughts are nebulous and in the normal scheme of things do not appear to be things at all. We do not think about the thoughts we have because we tend to be too busy thinking about what we are doing to pay attention. If you examine your beliefs you may well find the assumption that thoughts are rigid, even though we know they are not or that they are beyond our control though we know this to be false as well. Why do we do this? I believe it is because if when we realize that our thoughts are our problem we get scared to explore them. If thoughts are beyond my control then it is easier to disavow responsibility. Be that as it may, I would suggest you think about the idea that we created the issues and the filters and blocks we have to deal with by our thoughts, not those of others. Further, that by taking ownership over our thoughts we can overcome the issues. Contemplation of this will help to enable the new ideas I will present here.
Now, there are numerous reasons that a greater awareness of how our rational mind works is not common knowledge. One is we are so externally focused, but there are others including their subjective nature, that we cannot easily share them, measure, examine or capture them in any form. I do see their subjectivity as the fundamental reason for our ignorance of them. Science only investigates thoughts in terms of physiology and religions do not go into any depth about thoughts other than, for various reasons, to say some are good and some are bad. When we do not understand something we tend to search for answers in what we can either prove (science) or believe (religion). Given that growth requires self examination and that we are what we think, understanding and working directly with thoughts seems the logical way to work on ourselves. This is challenging to do because any examination of thoughts puts one the middle of unexplored territory; right in between what may be humanity’s greatest dichotomy, that of science and religion.
At one end, we have the objective, physical world around us and on the other a subjective one consisting of our internal or personal self. Our internal self is what we are, our essence, our thoughts, feelings and so forth, they are those aspects of us that are personal. We look to science to help us understand our physical world. This we can share and agree on in a fashion, for all else we turn to philosophy and religion. Our thoughts are personal. We can tell them to another; however, words are not a perfect representation of the thought nor can we objectively verify their truth. This would make them a natural for philosophy and religion; however, neither of these tell us little about our internal self; such as what it is, how it is built and how it works. Knowledge of these aspects of self lie in the vacuum between the two perspectives. This dichotomy is part of our awareness; we have inherited this amongst other thought constructs from current and past generations. An understanding of thoughts will reconcile this dichotomy.
Science, in its broadest sense, is any systematic knowledge base or prescriptive practice that is capable of resulting in a predictable outcome. Science does not apply to personal awareness or questions as whether there is a God. Nor can we measure and quantify a thought beyond the firing of synapses in our brain. Scientists remain within the realms of the provable, of making hypothesis and theories based on evidence. They cannot tell us about the nature of our thoughts, only the chemistry of our brains. Psychology tries to look at the human psyche, and does a reasonable job based partially on medical knowledge and on models and statistical likelihoods for behaviour. I believe psychology fails because it takes the point of view that we are aware due to brain chemistry alone, a premise I believe is false.
Philosophers have debated many perspectives, and while they provide ideas to consider, they have answered few questions. The religions of the world have told people how to live, though they are a little thin on the why’s, outside of vengeful God’s, to avoid eternal damnation or because someone in authority deems it so. While this can be beneficial, it is rare that an individual is able to live by the best tenants of their religion on faith alone.
Great spiritual leaders are rare in our age. Past spiritual leaders tried to provide guidance to us through how they lived, through their words, parables, their stories and by being inspirational. A spiritual leaders standing is elevated in the eyes of those that believe in them, as are their words and ideas. People do hear their words; however, hearing and understanding are not the same. We cannot follow what we do not clearly understand. The scientific perspective cannot answer this either for they have no concepts that will give a greater understanding of what we are or the nature of our thoughts.
We can move past the barriers of this dichotomy by looking at a model for thought that has enough substance to help people understand, visualize and begin to work with them. To illustrate this consider what happens if I drop a normal glass onto a hard floor (Let A = “drop glass onto concrete floor”). We know from experience that the glass will break (Let B = “glass breaks”). We know that if we do A, then B will happen so long as we restrict outside influences. To prevent outcome B from occurring we simply do not do action A. Now, consider we have a negative thought about a person (C = “negative thought”); however, nothing bad seems to occur (D = “negative consequence or outcome”). In other words doing either C or not doing C, leads to the same result of “not D”. We do not perceive a consequence to ourselves. Our rational mind factors the assumption that there are no direct consequences to negative thoughts into its programming. The validity of this does not enter into the equation because the mind is not examining the truth of there being no negative consequences, only whether or not it will affect us based on our minds view of things. Unfortunately, they do have a consequence, as I will explain.
A thought is a construct that does not exist in isolation. Depending on the nature of the thought, it will create a response or resonance in the energy of the emotional or astral plane corresponding to the thought. By planes I am referring to, figuratively, different degrees of vibrancy rather than different kinds of energy. Planes of energy are somewhat like states of matter, we will touch on this more in other essays. Lower level thoughts, such as selfish ones, will energize matter of the lower emotional plane; thoughts rooted in a higher type will energize matter of the upper emotional plane. A thought can also energize matter of more than one plane. These energies are within us, within our aura if you will.
We create thoughts; hence, we are the authors of the energies or vibrations associated with them. For as long as we retain a thought in its original form, the vibrations that it gives rise to remain. Over time, negative thoughts build up and we focus more and more of our attention there; they make us overly judgmental, cause a countless variety of life issues and block us from experiences, opportunity and connections with people and the world around us. We do not realize that having the same types of thoughts repeatedly reduces our capacity to respond at other levels and essentially creates rigid thought structures. The combination of reduced capacity for expression, and the rigidity of the remaining thought forms results in barriers to expression. That is why it is hard to make changes in ourselves when we do not begin to attribute consequences to particular actions, and do not see our own thoughts as actions.
An extension of this line of thinking is that, through our upbringing as well as by our nature, we look for external causes for our issues; to fight or take flight. The idea being that if our own thoughts are not responsible, we are not either. This leads to laying blame or the responsibility for ones circumstances on someone or something else. Even when we do not blame outside forces directly we typically do not put the responsibility on ourselves and certainly do not extend it to our thoughts. The reason is people do not understand that our thoughts are what we are; again, I am what I think.
It is difficult to make the connection between our thoughts and outcomes in our lives when it appears impossible to associate a consequence or outcome with a particular thought. This is due, in part, to the reality that our awareness is almost impossibly complex. It would be appropriate to ask - how do I attribute an outcome to a particular thought, or how can we even be aware of or think about the thousands we have every second, of every day when every thought has associations with other thoughts, other feelings, other memories, other physical sensations and aspects of our awareness? It is a long worded sentence, however, it helps one imagine the complexity. Fortunately, we can get past the complexity of consciousness to effect change.
We start to solve this challenge by examining a single thought and its aspects. We then develop an understanding of how thoughts connect to each other and how more complex thought structures evolve.
The first thing to remember about thoughts is they are not physical and can be seen as independent though they are highly interconnected and exist on multiple levels. A thought is not an idea, or words or a mental image; it is a relationship between experience and memory. These relationships exist on multiple levels. On all of them, our awareness is the result of our experiences, and responses to them. The combination of all the thought constructs we create through our experiences results in a construct I call our rational mind. Do note that an experience is not a thought; the experience is in the moment. We create thoughts by our reactions to that experience. That reaction is in turn based on and connected to other thoughts (or memories) we have already had that share any commonality with the current experience.
In order to move our understanding of thoughts forward we will connect our developing understanding of thoughts to our reality. Our focus will be on the influence of our thoughts on us, and not on the how the thoughts of others can influence us. I will cover this topic in the essay Energy Linkages.
Our starting point for this is discussion is our birth, as this is when all our vehicles are complete. I will not get into the choice behind what life we are born into, nor what aspects we take on in a particular life. While they are significant influences in our lives, they are unrelated to the subject of thoughts.
Our life vehicle has both physical and non-physical aspects that are not perceptible from the physical plane. The latter are commonly lumped together and referred to as our aura. Within our aura, we have energies of different rates of vibration or levels. Being of different vibration rates, they can and do occupy the same space. They are commonly grouped into three types are known as planes of energy or vibration; from higher vibration to lower they are the causal (plane of ideas), spiritual (unconditional love or openness) and emotional planes.
Just as there are differences in the capabilities of our physical bodies, there are differences in the other vehicles as well. In each case, they are differences of degree not kind (an example of differences in degree would be water in its various forms of ice, water and vapour), with the variations in each of us tied to what we are trying to learn in our current life. You can relate to this by considering the concept of one’s karma. Simply put, for any given life, our higher self manifests various capabilities in our vehicles or our lower self. We are born into situations that will provide our higher self with the experiences it seeks to continue its evolution.
While a child is able to perceive all of these aspects, without a rational mind it cannot use them. The newly born child simply begins to experience and interact with what it perceives. At this point, the rational mind is also newly born. Essentially, it is in a blank slate that develops as we experience and remember.
Each of us has a desire to express ourselves in our own unique way, based on what we are seeking to learn in this lifetime. When we are born, we are able to perceive energy on all the planes, we do not “think” about them. The initial and dominant focus is on the physical plane. The physical, sensory-based interactions are the most readily and easily verifiable. We observe with our senses all the while acting: we squirm, wiggle make noises and encounter with some of what we perceive. We do something such as move a part of our body, we feel it move and usually can see it moving. Gradually we connect what we feel with what we perceive and begin to remember our interactions with objects and our emotional responses to that experience as these are actions as well. We make certain noises, or cry and remember. These events, as do all events, create thoughts which are structures made up of vibration from the interaction between our desire to act, actions and consequences.
Thoughts exist and persist whether we are conscious of them or not. For example, we do not concern ourselves with how the brain actually achieves actions through the body. We never consider how we learned to move around, we just think of moving our hand and it does. Development of the rational mind occurs due to our memory of these actions and reactions with the brain being necessary for perception, enabling our awareness and the mechanics of motion.
Again, a child perceives all the energy levels, it is just not consciously aware of them. That is to say, that early on we do not have integrated thoughts about what we perceive. We are not aware that we are developing the interface between our soul per say and the manifest universe. We are simply exploring the vibrant world around us based on our nature. To learn to walk and talk, to recognize objects, smells, tastes and so on takes a considerable amount of repetition. Creation of the thought forms required comes first, followed by its strengthening through repetition.
We take for granted the act of consciously choosing to reach out and grasp an object though it actually takes a long time before to learn how to get our bodies to do this. We do not need to learn to move, this is inherent in our bodies; what we do is direct and control our movement towards an outcome. The ability to act consciously is part of the natural progression of thought development in our rational mind. We do not think about how to grasp an object either; we want to grasp something so we reach, open our hand up the appropriate amount and so forth and grasp the object.
The early experiences and memories that go into the development of the rational mind are its foundation elements. As adults, we take so much for granted, forgetting as well as not considering how our awareness has developed over the years. Genetic variations aside, we tend not to consider that we construct our own rational minds not based on our bodies and brains, rather based on the experiences we have. It is no different in terms of our awareness. Before we can use a thought forms to act in any fashion we must create it. We can then express the newly created thought forms through our experiences. This means that through our childhood experiences we build more thought forms than we use. This is why we do not remember much of the first few years of our lives.
- See our incarnate soul/mind/inner self as having its own capabilities or potentials and awareness of them
- See the sum of all our various bodies as the house for our incarnate soul
- See our rational mind as the bridge or interface between the two.
We do not need to concern ourselves with the underlying “physics” of reality to begin to work with thoughts at the conscious level; we need a grasp of the concepts about them. Our rational minds are very powerful and best activated by figurative models. We reduce the complexity of the problem by arming ourselves with a broader awareness of thoughts. Specifically, in reference to thoughts, I am referring to the below.
- What they are
- How they are created
- How they interact
- How they are changed
How Thoughts and Memories are Created
Major Factors that affect how conscious we are of a particular thought
© 2009 Allan Beveridge