Do you have to think, or do you think to have?
Thinking should be optional. Compulsory thinking is all too common. If your thoughts are non-stop, you are not thinking. Instead, your thoughts are having their way with you.
Your life is an effect of the thoughts that receive the most attention. If the thought process runs incessantly, willy-nilly, it’s easy to feel lost in the physical world, and life feels like something that just happens to you.
When you choose thoughts on purpose and concentrate your attention on those, your life is one of your own choosing, deliberately and strategically created, one thought at a time.
“Strategy is a style of thinking, a conscious and deliberate process, an intensive implementation system, the science of insuring future success.” – Pete Johnson
Unforeseen Benefits of Disciplined Thinking
Do you remember sitting in those uncomfortable desks at school, bored with what was being taught, and wondering how you’d ever use it in the real world? I studied mathematics for a couple of years in college. It came easy for me, but I remember marveling at how I was learning an entirely new language comprised of numbers, symbols and other odd characters that only other mathematicians would recognize or understand.
What was I going to do with all that gobbeldy-gook? Become a teacher? I could have taught it to other students who would also wonder about its practical value in their lives. I know calculus is handy for determining space travel trajectories and geometry is handy for carpentry, but beyond that, much of what I was learning left me feeling, “Cool, so what?”
To balance my checkbook, I really don’t access the theorems of calculus or the formulas of analytical geometry – although I was fascinated to learn a little about sacred geometry. (If you are interested in exploring it more, I wrote a short review of a fascinating book called “Nothing in the Book is True, But It’s Exactly How Things Are” by Bob Frissell. Here’s a link to my Recommended Books page.)
I was able to use trigonometry once to build a cabin in Alaska. It’s base was 23′ square, it was 17′ tall, and was built with the exact same angles and ratios as the Great Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt. I used trig tables for sine, cosine and tangent, but that’s the only time that strange language of advanced mathematics ever intersected my daily life.
Along with a few helpful ideas, I also learned lots of extraneous details in school. Still, the mental training I received and the discipline I learned studying mathematics has helped me every single day in many unforeseen ways.
“Thoughts are energy. And you can make your world or break your world by thinking.” – Susan S. Taylor
I learned to think deliberately. I learned how to steer my thoughts and follow-through from A to B, B to C, C to D, and so on. It takes focus, concentration and one-pointed awareness sustained over a period of time. It’s about having an attention span that’s long enough to accomplish complicated tasks.
I took it for granted and assumed everyone thinks this way. In time, I discovered that many of the people I met simply don’t have the mental chops. They have the potential, but instead of deliberate mental training and exercise, many are content with the ever-shortening attention span that results from a steady diet of quick sound bites and the overwhelming video barrage so common on TV. Use it or lose it, and it looks like functional attention spans are lost to many.
“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.” – Henry Ford (1863-1947)
“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-68)
This skill of directed thinking comes in handy in many of my everyday activities, like writing this article, writing a song, learning to play an instrument, producing a CD or DVD, creating a website, building a house or a studio, or just talking with a friend and logically trouble-shooting a technical problem. In retrospect, I consider this ability of directed thinking to be one of the most valuable skills I have to show for all those years in school. And, it’s a major contributing factor to the ongoing creation of the life of my dreams.
“The secret of living a life of excellence is merely a matter of thinking thoughts of excellence. Really, it’s a matter of programming our minds with the kind of information that will set us free.” – Charles R. Swindoll
“Prosperity is a way of living and thinking, and not just money or things. Poverty is a way of living and thinking, and not just a lack of money or things.” – Eric Butterworth
I Am Thinking — I Am Not the Thoughts
Since I learned early how to pick and choose my thoughts and follow through with a deliberate train of thought, I realized a valuable spiritual principle: Thoughts are transitory — they come and they go. If I am choosing thoughts on purpose, my sense of self, my identity, is beyond the realm of thoughts. “Who I am” is the thinker of the thoughts — the watcher.
“Who is the watcher, who sits in the stillness and knows,
And who is the looker, who notices the king wears no clothes.
Who is the seer, who sees beyond the mind,
And who is the seeker, who’ll find the grand design.”
(From the song, “Who is the Watcher” by Tupelo Kenyon)
Spiritual awareness (aka religious experience) is all about going beyond the mind into the realm of pure being. Disciplines and rituals from all cultures through the ages have been used to help take the practitioner beyond the mental realm of thoughts, words and identification with physical things.
“Thinking, understanding, reasoning, willing, call not these Soul! They are its actions, but they are not its essence.” – Akhenaton – Egyptian king (d. c.1354 BC)
Meditation helps to identify and then identify with the being behind the thoughts. Prayer beads, mantras, mandalas and zen koans are all used to transcend the chatter of the typical undisciplined mind. Musicians concentrate on melodies or musical passages, a process which stops the internal string of words which are otherwise forever playing in the mind.
Awareness grows only when the internal dialog is slowed and eventually stopped. Even when the parade of thoughts is curtailed only for brief moments, the awareness of “I am” has a chance to shine through like the sun breaking through the clouds. (See previous article, “Beyond Science, Philosophy and Religion.)
Thinking on Purpose
Once you no longer identify yourself with the stream of thoughts that once dominated your life, you are free to use thoughts deliberately, on purpose, as a tool to help you manifest chosen outcomes. Instead of being blown all over the mental map by every thought that presents itself, you are able to be a thought wrangler.
You can keep them under control, manageable, and keep your life heading in the general direction you choose. When you notice a stray thought going off in another direction, you can redirect it to better support your vision, or you can choose to ignore it altogether and replace it with another thought.
This ability to think deliberately, on purpose, is directly related to your quality of life. Since the Law of Attraction is continuously bringing you the balance of your thoughts, what could be more important than learning to create the life of your dreams, on purpose, by thinking deliberately?
“Stop thinking in terms of limitations and start thinking in terms of possibilities.” – Terry Josephson
Whenever you notice a thought taking you away from your chosen direction, immediately replace it with another that feels better. Your emotions will let you know if a particular thought is working for you or against you. If you feel good, your present thoughts are now helping to manifest the outcome you choose. If you feel bad, your present thoughts are now taking you away from the outcome you choose. (See previous article, “The Law of Attraction.”)
“Intuition will tell the thinking mind where to look next.” – Dr. Jonas Salk (b. 1914)
A Tool or a Prison
Your thoughts and the realm of thinking can be a powerful tool if it is recognized as such and used from the broader perspective of who you really are: awareness, consciousness, pure being. Or your thoughts and the realm of thinking can be a prison keeping you in an illusory world of words and things, mental constructs and objects of the senses.
“Awareness is not the same as thought. It lies beyond thinking, although it makes no use of thinking, honoring it’s value and it’s power. Awareness is more like a vessel which can hold and contain our thinking, helping us to see and know our thought as thought rather than getting caught up in them as reality.” – Jon Kabit-Zinn
This world of matter is a marvelous place, an incredible opportunity to experience the grandeur of the universe from within the universe. But, by all indications, we are just passing through.
We emerge from the stillness, the vast sea of emptiness. Compared to eternity, a lifetime is a brief moment, the wink of an eye, and then we return from whence we came. Where is that? Where is eternity? Where is the vast sea of emptiness? Is it everywhere? Is it nowhere? Here’s some interesting wordplay inspired by something Dr. Wayne Dyer said in his live presentation of “The Power of Intention” . . .
First we are nowhere.
Then nowhere again.
From this broader perspective, it’s folly to identify with the physical world or any of its attributes, including thinking.
“Just like an afternoon that disappears too soon,
Another summer’s day that fades away.
See how it marches on, another year is gone,
No time to dwell upon our fleeting fate.
“How can we wait again another day,
Now that we know how fast they always slip away.
Our little world’s our emphasis, this life is a parenthesis,
A heartbeat in eternity’s highway.”
(From the song, “A Heartbeat in Eternity’s Highway” by Tupelo Kenyon.)
Why not choose the best of both worlds? We are here now, in this world to enjoy and appreciate all that it has to offer. But, we are not of it — we’re just passing through.
The Unified Field That Contains Everything
In a live retreat, I heard Eckheart Tolle say the measure of spiritual maturity is how well you are able to transcend thought. I am paraphrasing, but my sense of his message is that there’s an infinite realm of being that exists as a colossal field. Everything else is included in that field. This is the same unified field that Einstein was trying to reconcile mathematically in the later years of his life. Perhaps “who we really are” is the field itself.
“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest–a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” – Albert Einstein (1875-1955)
As we live our physical lives, we are individual manifestations of the awareness of the universe, beyond thought, beyond things, beyond phenomenon. We are the silent watcher who sits in the stillness and knows.
“The evolution of consciousness culminates in an all-inclusive consciousness that functions in the context of the infinite and the eternal.” – Phiroz Mehta
When we know that to be true, we are free of the incessant chatter of our internal dialog — our thoughts. The jumping monkey mind still performs its histrionics but we no longer identify with it. It’s not who we are — it’s a tool to be tamed and used purposefully.
We can still think — clearly, deliberately and powerfully whenever we choose.
But we don’t have to!
Thoughts are one of the most powerful forces in the universe. But it’s not who we are. We are much more than that . . . more powerful and much grander than our thoughts can imagine.
While reading, did you choose to hear the relaxing instrumental music linked at the beginning of this article? To learn more about it, click here.
Listen FREE to the songs below . . . chosen to enhance the ideas in this article.
Who is the Watcher
Explores the silent witness within and the idea that life occurs in this present moment. Always.
A Heartbeat in Eternity’s Highway
It’ll Be All Right Now
Soul in the Stars
Same Olde Time
You Gotta Have Fun
Songs by Tupelo
Get a Broader Perspective – Do It Different and Work Smarter
Know Thyself – Ignore Comparisons and Be Yourself
Appreciate Here and Now
How to Live the Life of Your Dreams Through Intuition
Enhance Your Self-Image on Purpose
Ego or Soul? Who’s Driving
Inspire Yourself on Purpose – Inspiration from Inside Out
Integrity Through Self-Reliance
How Do You Feel – About Inner Guidance?
The Law of Attraction
Beyond Science, Philosophy and Religion
Articles by Tupelo
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