Where do our thoughts come from? It’s tempting to think the brain is the seat of thought. Sensory data enters, our brains process the information, and thoughts naturally ensue.
In fact, our thoughts are often intermixed with some form of analysis or judgement. So we not only believe the brain manifests thoughts, but also feelings.
Thus if we want to eliminate or suppress certain thoughts – particularly negative ones – then all we need to do is not think about them. Right?
Have you ever intentionally tried to not think about something? In what’s known as ironic process theory, attempting to repress a thought makes it more likely to surface. As Dostoevsky reflected, “Try to pose for yourself this task: not to think of a polar bear, and you will see that the cursed thing will come to mind every minute.”
In fact, our brains are not the seat of thought. Rather it is the mind.
Consider a marionette – a puppet controlled with strings. Using a puppet show as a metaphor for the origin of thought, the puppet is the human body. The strings attached to the puppet are the brain. And the source of all the action is with the puppeteer – that’s the mind.
It’s tempting to equate mind and brain, but the brain is an organ in the body. The mind isn’t in the body. It’s not even in the realm of consciousness – it is something outside of time and space. The renowned psychotherapist Carl Jung referred to the collective unconsciousness as the foundation of this aspect of mind.
Realizing that the source of thought originates with an unconscious decision in the mind, if we want a different thought – we simply need to make a different choice in our mind.
In the realm of the mind, there are only two possible thought systems we can choose between. One is referred to as the ego thought system. The other is known as the thought system of divinity or oneness.
Once we choose the thought system of ego or oneness, then the brain and our body automatically carry out the mind’s “wishes” – much like the puppeteer manipulating strings to affect an outcome.
Thoughts sourced from the ego will always be in some form that reinforces judgement, separate interests, and most powerfully, that the source of pain and happiness come from the world and our bodies.
Conversely, the thought system of oneness always extends some form of love, communication, shared purpose, and most significantly, joy. Concepts such as sadness, depression, loneliness, anger, attack, anxiety, and fear do not exist in this thought system. There is no possibility of experiencing any of those feelings when choosing the mind of oneness.
So, the next time we are feeling anything but pure happiness, we can recognize that we must have made a choice in the mind for the ego thought system and can now make a different choice.
In every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity [the mind of oneness] calls to you and gently says, “My brother, choose again.” It would not leave one source of pain unhealed. (T-31.VIII.3)
Join us in Monday’s class where we’ll explore the nature of mind – recognizing who’s truly in charge – and learn how to make the choice for happiness. I look forward to seeing you then.