A Reflection on Free Thinking
When you think of the word freedom, what image immediately comes to mind?
Standing on a beach with your arms out spread looking out to sea? Standing at the top of a mountain and taking in the view? Birds flying in the sky? A butterfly slowly fluttering a sunny meadow?…
All of these images have one thing in common… they are unconstrained.
I know it is a bit Captain obvious, but freedom means being unconstrained. So what then does it mean to truly think freely?
Whenever we have a firm belief, something we accept as being an immovable fact. What we are doing is building a wall around our own mind.
Don’t get me wrong; an essential part of thinking is establishing a set of first principles which we can then use to frame other thinking; like in order to bake a cake, we first need to know that the oven will get hot. It needs to be accepted as a fact. If you have a temperamental oven that does not always get hot, you will spend more time thinking about the oven than the cake you want to make.
First principles are fundamental to thinking, but we reserve the right to check that they are still true and more importantly, that they apply to the context of our current paradigm.
In order to not be constrained, we have to give ourselves permission to question and challenge everything that is known.
We can never think freely while being constrained by second hand knowledge passed to us which we accept as an un questionable truth.
While out on a walk one day, I was reflecting and exploring some thoughts around gender bias, the physiological differences between males and females, societal perception of gender issues, and what seems to make sense to me based on my own life experiences and learnings…
While doing this, I was posing some pretty cutting questions around the roles that males and females play in society and balanced family relationships. They were the kind of questions that could rouse some pretty strong reactions just for being posed.
You see, I know that I am defined by my actions, not my thoughts.
I am free to think whatever I want. To pose any question I feel like.
As I pondered these questions, I then started to think about thinking… what is this process of hypothesising and reflection that I am experiencing?
A mental image came to mind…
I love documentaries about the early formation of the universe. Often you see images of the planets and stars being formed… massive celestial bodies hurtling around space and smashing in to each other. It was a collision such as this that formed our planet Earth and our moon.
Thinking is much like this…
We have to allow our ideas and thoughts to float around freely, smashing in to each other like the planets forming in our solar system.
This can be a violent act. An act which can destroy both objects to form something new. We cannot predict what will happen and as such, this can cause fear. Fear of the unknown.
Remember though, that once you have tried out a thought experiment and expanded your mind to adopt a new broader perspective, that wider scope also includes the previous scope. Nothing is lost.
There is nothing to fear from evolution and growth.
How Dare you Question…
For people who have had imparted on to them, or chosen of their own free will, to adopt a belief system, there can be a fear preventing them from challenging the base principles of their beliefs.
This is the dark side of structured belief systems and second-hand knowledge.
You see for me; I think that God exists equally inside every living organism… we are all in fact god.
No other human is higher or below us. We all have the power and permission to rewrite everything that is known… We can be safe in our thought play, for we simply need to remember:
It is our actions which define us, not our thoughts.
“It is the mark of an intelligent man to be able to entertain a thought but not accept it as truth.”
Free thinking is about having the right to explore and try things out. To create hypotheses and test them. To fail and get things wrong. To join dots together in new ways and formulate new perspectives.
All the great thinkers of the past which are quoted and held in high regard today, were simply just humans like you and me. If they can do it, we can do it.
The only belief you ever need to have is in your own potential for greatness.
Thinking the rest is just fine.
Free thinking is the doorway that will enable homo sapiens to evolve… by using the power of our minds… but that is a conversation for another day…
Enjoy, for now.