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.