Day 3: Am I able to think at all?

Today I did not know what to write about. Various thoughts ran through my mind during the day but not one of them occupied my mind long enough to be remembered and used when I the time came to start writing this blog. I was compelled to make this blog today very short so that I could distract myself with useless activities that lead to nowhere, just like I did the whole day today. But even though I had no clue what I could possibly write about, I tried to focus on my writing assignment. However, I realized that I didn’t even know how I could focus on my writing. How would I do that? On what should I focus even? No thoughts came. And why should I then write about something that popped up into the mind by mere accident? Write just for sake of writing? What sense would that make?

2022_152089551612549_557541480_nBut no, I was not giving up that fast into these kinds of  thoughts. Not today. I remained on my chair, turned off the music, and stared on the blank screen. I had one hour to kill and I would use it for what it was supposed to be used (writing my daily Journey to Life blog). I was not going to run away. Not this time.

What I realized after a few minutes was that I could not even focus on anything. If no thoughts pop up whatsoever, what do you focus on. Try it for yourself: think about the NEXT thought you will have! Think about what you would like to think about and try to direct your thinking in such a way that some meaningful thoughts will pop up. It found this to be impossible. I could not direct my thinking whatsoever. Of course I was able to follow the thoughts that would pop up. Like for example “Come on, leave it alone. Nothing is happening. Go watch TV.” As I kept sitting in my chair, thoughts would randomly wander and pictures of my girlfriend would pop up, pleasant memories of the good days long past came to mind, and perhaps some worries about the future even showed up. But this was not in any way directed. These thoughts came all by themselves. All I could do is watch them and decide if I wanted to give them attention or not. Actually, I let them all go. I kept sitting in my chair and let one thought pass after another. After some time it became clear to me that I was not at all in control of my thoughts. I could only keep and remember whatever was coming or let it go and wait for the next thought. And while I was watching all these thoughts go by, I began to wonder where these thought had come from. Who was giving me those thoughts? Where they coming from the field of consciousness that we tap into? And why then these particular thoughts and not some others? I found no answer. What was becoming blatantly clear though was the fact that the content of my thoughts were either memories from the past (including dreams or things I have just been reading about perhaps only minutes ago) or they were worries about the future, which  in a way are also connected with past memories (like: “will have enough money to pay my bills”) and thus they are mere projections of past events (“I did not have enough money to pay my bills”) into the future (“I am sure this will happen again”).

So what are my thoughts anyway? Are they just memories? Memories from my past experiences? Memories of what I had been reading or hearing or seeing or feeling earlier? Is there such a thing as original and new thought? Are the thoughts which I am writing down here now in any way new thoughts from ME? Have these thoughts never been thought before by anyone before I wrote them down toady? Maybe this is not a relevant question. But I had certainly not directed these thought in such a way as to decide consciously that this is was what I wanted to think about today for my blog. It just happened that these thoughts had popped up. Just by accident, just a chance event. No direction. No conscious control of the process.

And even if there would have been any conscious control possible beforehand about what I would be going to think about, would there have been any difference in the outcomes of the “thinking” process as well? I mean, if I had wanted to think about planning my future instead of thinking about what to write in todays blog, would there have been any difference in my thinking process? I guess not. I think the same process would have happened and thoughts would have just popped up all by themselves in the same random fashion. What I would have done is let those go of those thoughts that had nothing to do with what I wanted to “think about” (my future in this example) after quick evaluation and making the conscious decision that were not relevant for the topic at hand (my future). But again, is this really “thinking” like in an active process that can be directed? I don’t think so. We cannot know in advance which thoughts we will have. We cannot decide what we will think about next. We can only judge our thoughts and decide to keep the ones we like and let the others go. The ones we decide to keep we can collect and put into a story that we then can talk and write about. But this “thinking process” is nothing else than a random collection of memories (thoughts) that have been assembled into a nice (or not so nice) story. The “thinking” of thoughts is not a conscious and active process that can be directed in any way. Thus the outcomes of such “thinking” are pretty much undetermined, except for the fact that they usually show us what we have experienced or learned in the past. Because thoughts are memories. The Free Online Dictionary has two definitions of the word “thinking”: (1) opinion or judgment (2) the process of thought. What is the process of thought? I don’t think such a process exists. Except perhaps as in allowing memories to pop up and filter them. But can we, really, come up with a thought we have never have had before? Tell me if you can. Because I could not.

And because we cannot really come up with any brand new thought on our own, we go read and talk and experience. This way, we collect more memories that we can then assemble in various ways into new and nice packages called “my thoughts”. But what kind of process is this? It is certainly not directed and I am wondering how people like Einstein (to take one example) has come up with new thoughts (like his Theory of Relativity). I am certain he did not have a thought like “oh, well, lets think about something new today. Perhaps Relativity?” Probably not. It was just an accident. A random event that luckily he decided not to let go of.

So when we think, aren’t we actually not just going through our memories (our personal experiences and what we have learned from others)? And does not then the individuality of each person come in through the unique set of collected memories each one of us has? And don’t we make decisions by choosing those memories (thoughts) that seem to serve our needs best? And isn’t our judgment done by projecting the outcome into the future based on what has happened in similar situations in the past? And aren’t these memories (thoughts) we have about life and this world what defines us as a person? Are we our thoughts? Are we our memories? Is that all we are? And is this why nothing ever changes in our lives?

Just think about this. For example, if we REMEMBER (not “think”) that we once touched a stove and got burned because it was hot, we will probably project this experience into the future and DECIDE to never touch a stove again (because we don’t want to get burned again). Or at least we will be very cautious. And of course we also tell everyone else to not touch a stove because it will burn them. So nobody ever touches a stove (look up the “100ds monkey effect”). The problem is that we do this will all experiences. If we once got “burned” by an experience (love relationships, getting ridiculed for speaking the truth, or what have you), we will not want to repeat this experience again (love somebody or speak the truth again) and thus avoid similar situations. And if we now consider for a moment past experiences (now memories) that tell us “I need a job to survive”, “I need to keep my mouth shut”, “I need to be better than my competitors”, “I need to think about myself first”, “I cant do this”, “this in not right”, etc., etc., then it becomes quite obvious why we will never really change. After all, we KNOW how things “really” are, don’t we? So we keep doing the things we always did. Until perhaps some day we learn something new through experience (our own or others). And then, if we thus believe that change is possible, we might want to give it a try and touch the stove again. Just to find out that this one is not hot. Meaning some stoves can be touched without getting burned, we might not need a job to survive, we don’t need to always compete with others and we can perhaps be even compassionate with other people without getting burned or hurt.

And how did we learn this again? Not through thinking. But through experience (our own or that of others). And this is why I find it very important to exchange ideas and experiences. Reading about the experiences others have made can help us all so very much. Connecting with people in the forums and blogs is a tremendous opportunity for learning. But staying in our minds and turning random memories around and around and call it thinking does not get us anywhere. We need to connect and share our experiences and what we have learned through them. This is what I realized today while I was waiting for some thought to arrive that I could write down in this blog.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to believe that reading and communicating with others is a waste of time and distracts me from “living my life” the way I want without realizing the tremendous opportunity for change that lies in learning about the experiences others have made and that all that is required for changing myself (including my habits) is to regard their experiences as valid and as something that I could do as well rather than “thinking” my old thoughts over and over, disregarding those of others because only I know what is true, and thus never change at all.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to value my thoughts and experiences over those of others.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to judge others regarding their behaviors, especially if they are not in line with mine or difficult to understand, without realizing that others might have had completely different experiences than the ones I have had in life and which then has caused them to act the way they did.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to not forgive and judge others for their actions as I did not realize the true cause for this.

I commit myself to abandon judgment of others based on what they “think” and how they act without ever looking at their particular life experiences and then try to understand these first before making any judgment about them.

I commit myself to learn from others by looking at their life’s experiences with an open mind and without judgment because I realize that could have been my own and are just as valid as mine.

I commit myself to keep writing this blog even if I don’t have a clear picture what to write about and even it i don’t always see what purpose it might have.

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