An Evolution of Thought
The human mind is constantly flooded with thoughts. Some which we choose to think and others which just pop out of our minds like incessant chatter.
The incessant chatter of the mind is something that all humans experience. The practices of mindfulness and meditation aim to develop the skill of separating ourselves from that chatter so that we can consciously choose to focus on what we actually want to think about, rather than paying attention to the chatter.
What do you want to think about though?
During the development of a human, we acquire information and start to form our world view. This is a view which contains our understanding of how things work and as such, what we should and should not do in certain life situations.
Often our view and understanding of the world is comprised of a catalogue of information about what is good and bad, how we should behave, what our moral code should be.
You see, a lot of religious texts and information that we receive from our teachers, parents and carers is aimed at telling us what to think.
This is like giving a hungry man a fish.
Oh, you’re hungry… here is a fish to eat. Done.
We carry around all of these little fish that act as little templates or scripts that can be used an applied in different situations in our lives. The problem with this though that life is infinitely more complex than the whole variety of fish in the sea!
You will simply never have enough.
Fish are attractive though; it makes it easy. If you are unsure of what to do, ask for some support and you get given an answer, your belly is full and you can be contented.
What about if you had a fishing rod?
A Tool for Living
Give a man a fish and he can feed his family once; give a man a fishing rod and he can feed his family for life.
Often in life we are told what to think however, it is much better to concern ourselves with how to think.
What I mean by how to think is how to evaluate all of the information you have to make the appropriate decision given the context of the situation that life presents to you.
It is having the ability to make every choice a conscious one.
Essential to this is the acknowledgement that learning is a process of flow, and evolution; not a cumulative endeavour.
Yes, we want to learn simple things and use them to form the foundations for more complex learning (as such accumulating knowledge), but we reserve the right to wipe the slate clean and formulate a new world view afresh. This is the essence of flow learning.
Allowing yourself to challenge every thought and historic bit of information you hold to make fresh decisions that are right for the situation in front of you.
If we rely on our stock pile of fish to feed us when we are hungry, we will have a stagnant and nutrient deficient diet.
Consider in you own life if you make choices and decisions based on a thought process of evaluation, or if you just know what you “should” do and do it.
Are you actively thinking and formulating context specific action plans, or are you just doing what you think you should be doing?
For some people who believe in a specific ideology or religion, this whole concept may be a challenging one. It is impossible to think freely and focus on how to think, if you have already integrated an immovable set of beliefs in to your mindset. Beliefs which tell you what to think.
I am not suggesting that there is no value in pre-packaged belief systems, just that we need to be mindful of how we integrate them in to our lives. If we do it the wrong way, we can unwittingly give away our fishing rod in favour of easy life being fed fish. Fish which may never hit the spot and give us enough energy to unlock our potential in this life.
Enjoy, for now.