Posts Tagged ‘thought’

Fear and Thought

December 2, 2010

David Bohm remarked that “Thought creates the world and then hides and says it didn’t do it.” The world is as we think it, but generally people tend to believe that the world is an objective reality and our thoughts merely reflect on and interpret it. Not so. As Shakespeare writes in Hamlet, “Nothing is either good nor bad but thinking makes it so.”

Fear is a compelling emotion. It appears to want to protect us, and in its most primal sense it does. In the forest, when a predator appears and fear says “Run,” running is the best response to the command. Don’t think. Run!

Evolutionarily, however, the instinct to fear in the primal brain runs amok in present day circumstances, and reality becomes distorted because of it. Wiki leaks, Putin, Korea, economic statistics – just drawing from the news tonight – have one result if they are responded to through fear, and a different result completely if we think through them differently. Entire news programs are devoted to interpreting anything in the public eye through fear and mistrust. These can create a feeding frenzy for primal instincts that overwhelm thought.

Change begins with the individual, one of us at a time. Private fears have tormented me this day, and I see the damage that they can do. They act like they are merely reflecting the world, but actually have the power to create it just as they see it. Thinking in the present, seeing reality freshly as it presents itself can be subsumed by over-protective, fear-driven instinctual responses that have nothing to do with current events. Thought is a responsibility. As Buddha says, “With our thoughts we make the world.”

To catch and confront a fearful thought as it arises, whether personal or collective, requires consistent vigilance, and courage to relate to the lions of instinct with respect and love. New thoughts will arise from such encounters if they are handled deftly. Great instinctual powers then enter thought. Fear dissipates like the scary ghost that retreats when the light is turned on. Reality is re-created. The world is made new.

Pushing Thinking

April 29, 2010

As the fates and muses work things out, after writing about thought and thinking for the last couple of days, my next movie in from Netflix was Little Ashes, which I saw yesterday. It was the filmmaker’s musings on the possibly erotic relationship between Salvador Dali and Federico Garcia Lorca. I liked the film for what it was, and it was surely a study in what I have been musing about. Both of these great artists were passionate about using their art to challenge the thinking of the times. And certainly any eroticism that was felt between them was denied open expression by the fact that same-sex relationships were illegal. Oscar Wilde served prison time for it. The thinking of the times put their passions in a prison.

I took classes at the University of Madrid in 1972. One was a class in Spanish poetry. I remember being profoundly moved by Lorca’s writings. I wish I were up on the language enough to read his writing again without translation. He used his poetry to open eyes and hearts to the situation of the working class and as a weapon against Fascism; and he paid the highest price one can pay for his efforts.

In some sense this is a story of systems of thought clashing, with countless people being tragically crushed under the wheels of it. It begs the questions: What is the nature of thought? What is the reality in it that people fight and die for? We change our thinking from day to day, year to year and stage of life to stage of life. Thought isn’t worth killing for.

Dali used his art differently than Lorca. It seemed he mostly just for its own sake he wanted to challenge any system of thought, anything that was held in too much reverence and as many rules of propriety as possible. I find it fascinating that the Surrealists conducted a trial and expelled him from their movement for not being willing to use his art for political ends. He certainly lived his life and thought about art differently than his friend Lorca.

Pushing boundaries of thought – when, by what means, with what motivation, in service to what – these are questions we all have to grapple with. Or do we? I don’t think indigenous people grappled with these questions. I don’t think thought was such a problem for them. The problem evolved as we started thinking so much. I think we have a lot of thinking about thought to do; and as Buckminster Fuller said, a lot of “unthinking” to do.

Still Thinking about Thought

April 27, 2010

I do believe that thoughts create our reality. As David Bohm says, “Thought creates the world, and then hides and says it didn’t do it.” We look at that reality and think it’s just there, objectively, not that our thought created or could influence it. I’ve been observing  this for years, as a student of a spiritual teacher who taught very similar principles, as a student of the Dialogue method ingeniously developed by Bohm to help practioners become more aware of what thought is doing, and during doctral studies in depth psychology. It’s a habit of mine to observe thought and connect dots, like people watch sports or the weather, I watch this.

A  lot of teaching is going on now in various books and circles about how to manifest through thought. Great that people are learning more and more about this, but I get concerned about what is left out in much of the teaching. So much of thought is unconscious, most of it is. There is thought we inherit from ancestors that comes through family lines; thoughts that are gathered from experience that is often misinterpreted but from which conclusions are drawn and become our certainties without re-evaluation; thoughts that are created collectively which are very hard to sort out from our personal thinking. To change thought is a big job. It requires effort, energy, motivation, practice and help. I believe it requires practice with others, with those who are willing to catch us in unconscious thought, or in group effort such as spending time in intentional dialogue. Changing conscious thought is hard enough, changing what we are completely unaware of takes special attention.

Then of course probably the best medicine is “no thought.” As often as we can get to that place – to just feel, don’t think, that is probably when the most powerful shifts become possible.

I wish people would spend more time thinking together about thought, getting to the root of it. I got to teach about it in a college classroom in Los Angeles with rooms full of students from multiple countries and backgrounds. I miss that. Dialogue work takes committment, but can be as exhilarating, intoxicating, creative and astonishing as anything ever gets. To deeply change thought is to change everything.

Thinking and Thought

April 26, 2010

David Bohm, the physicist, pointed out the distinction between thought and thinking. Thoughts occur to us, go through our head, a lot of what occurs in our life is a result of what we have thought. Actually in Buddha said everything that happens to us is because of our thoughts. Bohm says thoughts are past tense. Thoughts have already been thought, and come to us like oxygen – they are in the air. If they are in our heads it doesn’t at all mean that we are the author of them or that they necessarily apply to how we would view and create the world if we were thinking instead.

Thinking is a verb, it produces fresh thought and unfolds new meaning. I have been catching myself lately going over a lot of thoughts. I want to think instead. I have thinking to do to re-create what thought has done in my world.