Thoughts, where do they come from?



I just had a thought about thoughts*. Many, including myself have wondered where thoughts really come from. Most of us just pass this off as silly because everyone knows they come from our brains. But where in the brain and where do those thoughts that have nothing to do with our experiences or us come from? We don’t really know. Some scientists wonder if they come from somewhere outside of us as though from some field of thought that surrounds us. But even though that idea is powerfully intriguing it has always sounded a bit too far-fetched to resonate with me.

Some neuroscientists have posited that our generation of a thought is affected not only by our own experiences, conscious or unconscious, but the experiential “cloud” from our species i.e. through our evolutionary pre-history that has programmed our bodies to respond to stimuli outside and inside us in certain ways.

Others suggest that we think with our bodies, what is called “embodied cognition”, that our thoughts are linked to our body’s physical experiences. This suggests that an idea or an experience may be affected by the body’s experience of it. For example, in Discover Magazine (June 2013) it was reported that the mere heft or weight or solidity of the clipboard that held a petition gave greater import to the petition. Ultimately these scientists believe that both brain and body generate thoughts.

To Eckhart Tolle there are energy fields that are generated by the collective, or universal, mind that can be picked up by an individual. The awareness arising in an individual affects the collective. He suggests that a thought is not really personal but part of the collective. These thoughts then attach themselves to memories and experiences of the individual thus “taking possession” of the individual. If we identify with thinking we are run by patterns from outside ourselves i.e. the “mind-made self”. Basically, we are not our thoughts. That’s an interesting concept that I’ll explore later but that’s not where I’m headed right now.

What if we don’t have to go outside the brain to find these pesky little cerebrations? What if they arise from that vast hidden reservoir of self called the unconscious mind, the home of our dreams. What if the unconscious that many psychologists suggest makes up 70-80% of our mind is the generator of these thoughts?

I’ve always ‘thought’ of our dreams, or meditations, as the only access to the unconscious. But what if the unconscious mind is constantly talking to us? Most of it seems like gibberish but maybe that’s because we filter the unconscious material through the ego mind, the conscious mind that can bend, bias, and distort the image based on the bent, biased and distorted images from past ego manipulations.

So how can we get a true image of what’s hidden behind the thoughts that are constantly floating to the surface of the great ocean of our minds? Most of the techniques for dealing with dreams even those where we bring them back to life in a therapeutic setting or in our individual meditations seem to be only reworking the material and images that have already been filtered.

We can recall a dream and diligently journal it without trying to interpret that often brings about the first layer of bias, but then what? We can work with a partner or group to then ferret out different points-of-view but that may only gather a number of ego biases. We can rely on our own intuition to help us find a truer meaning, but how reliable is that i.e. how removed is our intuitive self from our ego-self? Can we even know? Mystics and shaman, gurus, and spiritual guides of all sorts spend a lifetime trying to quiet the ego-mind so as to ‘hear’ the source of their being and some seem to have actually found it even though they don’t seem to have found a way to be with it for very long at a time. And what authority other than their own says that they have attained the ego-less self, the self of true authenticity?

Speaking of thoughts, I’d love to hear yours. I know there are thoughts out there so please send them forward.


*In the book The Dragon’s Treasure (2009) I began my exploration of thought and consciousness that I am now expanding here. See Books by Author on the column at right.

Sparkles, Lights and Auras oh my!



Besides insight, to see light in your dream might represent illumination, clear mind, guidance, and plain understanding. Is the light being shed on a once cloudy situation or problem?

Lights often suggest a beacon to follow and are indicators of the divine, the soul, and life itself. You might also consider the color of the light. For example, a light blue light might reflect intuitive awareness or be spiritual in nature. This is also true for violet or indigo. Red light may reflect passion or danger. Yellow light can be about lightness or hopefulness. A rainbow of light can represent an awareness of the beauty of life in the midst of problems and difficulty, be a visible blessing, or represent happiness and hope.

To see a bright light in your dream, might indicate that you need to move toward a higher level of awareness and feeling.

Rainbow light

Light is often a symbol for the creative point in ones awareness, of bringing new light to consciousness.

Bright light dreams are sometimes common for those who are near death. 
To see soft or shadowy lighting in your dreams, indicates feelings and thoughts from the primal aspects and less developed parts of your unconscious.  To dream that you cannot turn on the light, indicates a lack of insight and perspective on a situation, or a feeling of paralysis with regard to what you need to do in a worrisome situation.

To see a glow in your dream, might symbolize enlightenment, happiness, or that new light has been shed onto a situation. You might have gained a fresh perspective and reached a some measure of understanding. Someone glowing can also suggest that you look at this person in a new light, from a new perspective. They may also represent a spirit guide.

To see an aura around you or someone else, might suggest that some important information is being given to you in the dream and you need to pay close attention to the message, or that you need to draw on this energy for strength.

Some say auras or light hallucinations in dreams can warn of an oncoming migraine. These auras can also indicate an on-coming nightmare.

To dream that you have a halo might signify that you are a perfectionist. It may also represent some significant spiritual development and supernatural energy.

Sparkling lights

If something is sparkling in your dream perhaps it’s a signal to pay attention. Consider the pun, “all that glitters is not gold” e.g. don’t be fooled by all the glitter of something because beneath it all may be commonness or deceit.

It could be a feeling of joy, or happiness or a desire for the same. It may also symbolize something of value.






Who are you?

th-2.jpgho are you?


My name is Bob.

That’s your name, but who are you?

I’m a Psychologist.

That’s what you do, but who are you?

Ahh, I see what you want. I am a constellation of things a son, a, husband, a father, a friend, a soldier, a scholar, a writer, an actor, and a singer.

Yes you have done all those things, but who are you?

And I was silent.

What is life?

Why, it’s a journey!

To where are you going on this journey?

Huh, well I don’t really know.

What’s the point of your life?

It’s to learn things so that you can make a living and take care of yourself and your family and to make a positive difference to others.

Those are all laudable doing of things, but what’s the point of life?

If not that, then I guess I don’t know.

When you dance what is the point of dancing, is it not to just dance, is not the point of dancing, dancing? When you sing, is not the point of singing, singing?

So what is the point of life?


So who are you?

Quietly I smiled.


From a dream that kept repeating “Who are You?”, nothing more, just a disembodied voice repeating “who are you?”


Animals in dreams: Follow the animal




‘Follow the animal’ is an idea put forth by James Hillman the preeminent founder of Analytical Psychology. Animals in dreams like animals in the waking world reflect what is going on in our deepest selves. In waking life an animal such as your dog will often know that something is wrong with you before you’ve noticed yourself. Animals can sense illness, fear, or desire (like a horse “reading” its rider).

Animals are often analysts of our unconscious mind, they can read our moods and our rhythms and even our bodily health that’s why they’re often used clinically for both psychological and physical therapeutics.

Basically, animals in dreams represent our instinctual feelings or behaviors. Some therapists have suggested that animals will attack us in our dreams as a means of bringing our attention to those instincts we’ve ignored or neglected.

So is it so strange when animals show up in our dreams, when the unconscious is trying to speak to the conscious through the dream image of an animal? Animals can be our guides to not only our inner realms, but to our souls as well.

Alice didn’t even hesitate to follow her rabbit into the tunnel that led her metaphorically into the depths of her inner psyche–down into the Earth where the soul of the world dwells, what Carl Jung referred to as the Anima Mundi, the world soul.

When next an animal visits in a dream, be curious and follow it. I’d say whenever curiosity beckons, follow it and do or be available to the extraordinary in your life. Take the shamanic journey of Alice into that “curiouser and curiouser” wonderland world of your soul.

The White Rabbit in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland lived between two worlds–the upper or conscious world and that world at the bottom of the tunnel–the world of the unconscious, the realm of the dream. The rabbit represented a guide to both. And as Virgil in the Aeneid pointed out the hero needs a guide within the underworld. Several centuries before Virgil, Homer in the Odyssey also required help within the underworld in order to find his way home e.g. back to the soul.

Alice as the youngest child in her family represented the child in all of us, not the childish, but the child-like wonderment that is required to explore our inner selves. Jesus knew of this: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14 NIV)

Buddha talked of the child mind, the beginner’s mind that was open to everything. Within the context of Hindu yoga mindfulness a practitioner needed to free the mind of all notions and thoughts.

Following your animal down the metaphorical hole into your inner self can be symbolic of creating something new, letting go of old ways, exploring new ideas, transformation, and of new potentials.

As with Alice your animals can show you many aspects of yourself that will amaze and enchant you. So follow your animal self and learn more of what you are.


“The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well. 

Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her and to wonder what was going to happen next.”

–Lewis Carroll Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland


Though Alice entered her psychic realm through the rabbit hole, in the Archipelago of Dreams Robert found his way into the unconscious psyche by crossing a darkened lake whose depths suggested many unknowns. Both Alice’s world and that of Robert’s were curious representations of what lay beneath the realm of the consciousness in all of us.

Now, I know that this so-called dark “underworld” of which I speak is a scary place to most people. But perhaps that’s because you aren’t yet familiar with it, you have yet to bring it to consciousness. As Alice discovered the fearsomeness does not lay in the unconscious at the bottom of the tunnel, but in the unenlightened consciousness at its entrance. It wasn’t as though her enlightenment was without pain for she had to confront the absurdities of her life that she had been trained to lean on. But the nonsensical soul rejoices in what seems the impossible:


There is no use trying, said Alice; one can’t believe impossible things.

I dare say you haven’t had much practice, said the Queen. When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”


 It is possible to think the impossible and to follow its unreality into reality. Where do you think all the world’s great ideas, great accomplishments, and great stories come from?



200.gifAhh, it’s that time of year again when the mind turns toward love, something that’s always in the heart, but most often missing in the mind.

Eros (love), not as a god, or as a thing, or a behavior, or something that engenders pleasure, is an act of being. It’s a meditation of the soul that softens our ego boundaries and allows us for a time to become a part of another person. It gives us a chance to be in the moment, and as such, to touch the eternal.

But it’s not very long-lasting is it? That’s because it’s mostly an act channeled through the ego and therefore subject to all biological and social conditioning.

You’ve heard me speak of the Animus–the male aspect within the female, and the Anima–the female aspect in the male? We all have these dual and somewhat conflicting aspects, but we usually, through conditioning conscious and unconscious, learn to suppress the influences of our opposite gender nature. This suppression makes it difficult to communicate well with the opposite sex that of course leads to misunderstandings.

But the problems don’t stop there because fundamentally we are all solipsistic e.g. mostly self-absorbed and self-interested. In short, the ego-us loves itself and the love for an “other” is often limited by the belief that the “other” is not us.

There’s all kinds of Love; Altruistic service ala Mother Teresa that requires the sacrifice of the ego demands; friendship, also requiring self-sacrifice; erotic love, that for brief moments gives insight into another’s psyche by allowing us to let go of our vulnerabilities and protected self and thus giving us insight into true intimacy; and the mother-child relationship, also requiring sacrifice, service, and vulnerability. When Love comes to the forefront of our lives, compassion–the act of being in another’s shoes–blossoms.

Note that all forms of love require that we give up ego-dominance and that we be willing to let go of self-interest. Actually, it may be in our self-interest to let go of self-interest if we ever want to truly feel that we belong and are loved. This includes giving up the idea of separation between each of us and the separation between our masculine and feminine aspects, as well as our shadows and lights, within us. Love may be the purpose for our existence e.g. to learn to let go of that which reinforces separation in order to experience true wholeness.

Now I know it looks like I’m ego bashing, as though I’m advocating getting rid of the ego, but I’m not. What I am suggesting is that we let go of the dominance of the ego both as it is expressed in the individual and in the world. Perhaps it is the soul and the world that also need to unite for us to experience what we are in order to lift ourselves out of the despair of our human predicaments?

Love I believe is always in us, someone doesn’t put it there, but we can experience it through the opening to another being. I believe that we are here to teach each other the meaning of love. We may be here to open each other up and release our spirits.


“Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.” ~Rumi




To share or not to share



Authenticity: To be real without pretentions. It’s hard to be authentic when you’re doing what you do for acceptance or trying to meet someone else’s expectations. The ego has to be right, look good, be acceptable, and avoid rejection all of which are barriers to authenticity. This need for acceptance might breed pretentiousness and create masks that are worn to give the impression of authenticity.

We have to dare to be our real selves no matter how scary that may be.

When we allow ourselves to be defined by our past it becomes a barrier to being in the present that I believe is the only place that authenticity can happen.

Some believe it’s all about nonconformity but I believe it’s about choice, the choice to conform or not to conform based on what is necessary in the moment. Choice can only happen authentically if one can accept either the positive or negative and then “choose” what is best for the moment and situation.

It’s about allowing our true selves to be seen. But what is your true self? Is it someone who bullies to get his or her way? Is it someone who bends over backwards to please in order to be accepted by others? Is it someone who uses their charm to get his or her way? I believe that these behaviors are of the ego-self and not the deeper self, the spirit that motivates.

True belonging, one of the basic human needs, I believe requires being yourself ego warts and all. To present a fraudulent self separates others from you and affects the real sense of belonging. Should you be accepted as a person with a mask of acceptability, it’s only the mask they love, not you.

To be real means to be vulnerable. This is the birthplace for belonging and for love, courage and creativity. When my goal becomes about safety I can’t be vulnerable and miss out on most of the joy that’s available in truly belonging. When my goal is about seeking approval it is forever empty for seeking outside oneself is an insatiable quest. This is because people give or withhold approval based on their own mood and not as a reflection of who you’re being or who you are.

Every year at our church around New Year’s there’s a basket full of stars with a word printed on each and each of us is encouraged to dip into this basket and take a star and it’s word to contemplate for the rest of the year. My word for the year is “Share”. Try as I might I couldn’t really get excited about this word, after all I already share my butt off. For six weeks I’ve been staring at this word with nothing but emptiness or some contrivance or another so that I could claim some meaningful contemplation. Only none of it has been meaningful. Then a reading group that I belong to came up against the word “Authenticity”. The discussion led to what did this word actually mean for each of us and this lead me to see my word for the year in a whole new light. Perhaps I need to “share” my true self even the self who is pretentious, self-righteous, biased, sometimes prejudiced, sometimes needy, and often self-critical. Perhaps I need to share my struggle to overcome these barriers to expressing who I really am. Perhaps I need to share in order to be real.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting you share all your opinions, chances are you’ll be liked by no one after that. What I’m suggesting is that you share who you are and believe it or not you are not your opinions, you have them, but you are much more than them.





Functioning from Source, the nonlocal “I”



For the past two weeks I’ve been writing about intention, practical magic, and the universal soul.

I’ve suggested that intention is the basis of all creation because it is ones intent that comes before all learning, reasoning, inference, recall, and action. I’ve tried to show that we are all our deepest intent– our deepest desire. Down in our center we intend that which will ultimately fulfill us e.g. what will make us happy at our spiritual level.

There seem to be two levels to this spiritual level– this soul level. One is our personal soul that which makes up all our personal desires, holds our individual egos (the “I” that we think we are), our experiences and conditioned behaviors. It’s that part of us that operates within the world of space/time, what might be considered our local mind.

Outside of the local mind is the universal soul where the nonlocal or superlocal mind resides. Our “I” self is but a reference point from which we view the greater Self that is the place where together the observer and the observed, the “seer” and the “seen” experience and create. It is in this place where everything is possible because at this level everything already exists. But when we trap ourselves in the box of the local mind, the limited mind of the ego and its conditioned behaviors, we cannot imagine anything from the universal and thus are limited in what we can create.

In short, that part of us that you and I believe is the real us, that part we call “I” is the ultimate limiter of the extraordinary beings that we really are. It is this limited local “I” that needs to be transcended, laid aside, before the real magic of our being can be practiced. The individual “I”s need to cooperate i.e. as Deepak Chopra said, “the trees must breathe so I can breathe” so that the illusion of separation can be transcended and we can collectively move beyond our constricted awareness.

We do this by asking ourselves a very simple question when attempting to manifest our intentions, 1) How will attainment of this intention serve me and how will it serve everyone else around me?

If the answer is about fulfillment and happiness for all concerned, i.e. for the universal “I” versus the individual “I”, then we begin to create the extraordinary and magical world about us.



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In the book The Dragon’s Treasure (Cole, 2009*) a chapter was devoted to the skill of intentionality. My explanation of the power of intention will be drawn from an update on this chapter.

Ones intentions if not fully understood can create havoc with the events of ones life. For example, a confused intention, one where you say one thing but harbor a hidden agenda or desire e.g. someone who claims to want a relationship to work but secretly harbors and end to the relationship will present a mixed message that will ultimately result in a thwarted intention. Though it might also give the “intender” an alibi for the failure i.e. “Well I tried!”

On a societal level the country claims to hold children as a high priority but where this intention is thwarted by how children are frequently treated. For example, “In a society where money and having things is more important than the freedom to express one’s self in a healthy, joyous, and balanced way we see starving children (nearly 25% of America’s children are nutritionally compromised), children with minimal or no health insurance, schools that have become warehouses, children with no voice of their own, abused children (up to 33% of children have experienced some level of physical or sexual abuse), suicidal children, suppressed children, and indifferent children.


“Is this a holy thing to see in a rich and fruitful land

Babes reduced to misery

Fed with cold and usurious hand”

–William Blake


The first action regarding your “real” intention is to become clear about what ones “real” or meta-intention is. Because this meta-intention comes only through the ego-self it is always suspect and it’s only the intention that is connected to ones spiritual source without the influence of either the conscious or unconscious ego that has any real magical power. To intend anything is ultimately not to “do” anything but to connect to ones “source”.

One of the most effective ways to manifest the magic of intention might follow with the following cleansing formula: D+W+A   leads to S that then allows for I where Desire is added to Will and then added to Action that “leads to” Intention being manifest. Make sure that they are aligned with each other. For example, do you have more than one desire regarding the issue? Conflicting or competing desires will render an intention unfulfilled. What you thought you wanted is not what you get i.e. the strongest desire will frequently win out.

With regard to Will is meant “Free will” or choice. If you are not aware or clear about your real desires you are not free to make a clean and willful choice e.g. your hidden desires are making the choice for you. Bottom line, everyone in the world is creating the world out of their real intentions e.g. I want my children to have the best education may be the stated intention but the meta-intention may actually be, “but not at the expense of my flat-screen TV, SUV, or RV (we could add thousands more things to this list such as a strong military to protect us against everything, or walls along the borders to keep the undesirables out, etc.).”

And remember every “choice”, conscious or unconscious, creates a different universe, a different reality.

So how does one get in touch with their unconscious and conflicting desires, after all, they’re unconscious and therefore unknown? Well some of the so-called ‘unconscious’ desires are not that unconscious.

With a friend state the following, “I want____________________.” (describe the desire fully and clearly) then state the opposite, “I don’t want________________________.” (using the same desire). More often than not the real desire will make itself known after you’ve done this process a few times, especially if you also make yourself aware of your feelings while you make the statements.

After this approach you might then ask yourself why you don’t seem to want what you thought you wanted? Do this by asking yourself what would happen if you got what you really wanted and what would happen if you didn’t get it? These questions can help you get some insight about your real desires.

For those really intractable and unconscious desires, following and interpreting your dreams can be especially helpful given that dreams come from the unedited unconscious mind that is they don’t come through the conscious ego-self that tends to bias, confuse, and obfuscate ones real intentions.

When satisfied that you are in full agreement with your desires and are committed to the stated result the “will” will follow and then you can study what actions will most likely produce the desired result. This may of course require fine-tuning as you go along– don’t get too rigid with the action part.

But what about the ‘S’ in the above formula? That’s the secret to all power. It refers to the Source of all being. Without its acknowledgment all we have is the ego trying to make something happen, the “I’m in control and I’m going to make something happen no matter what!” aspect of the ego. Bottom line, most of the time intention won’t happen while the ego is involved (though the ego will take credit for what does happen). Intention doesn’t come through the ego. So where does intention come from?

In the next installment I will talk about the Source of ones power and some of the biggest obstacles to manifesting that power.



*Cole, R.J., The Dragon’s Treasure: The dreamer’s guide to inner discovery through dream interpretation, pages 144-151, 2009, ISBN 978-1-4401-7692-0 (can be found on Amazon and Barnes & Noble as well as several other international booksellers)