Our Thoughts?

By Scott Osterhage

I awake each morning and perceive light streaming in through my windows. Contrasted with the darkness of closed eyes, it takes several minutes of squinting and test-opening my eyelids before I can stand the full light of day. Eventually, though, my eyes adjust to the new world and willingly let the light stream in.

I have read that thoughts are "things" with a life of their own. Myriad thoughts pass my way, from somewhere or someone on their way to somewhere or someone else. Some beat in sympathy with my own thoughts, and I can choose to dwell on them and give them a temporary home, or let them pass by and go on their journey. I have several options when these thoughts come my way. If they are sad, I can think of joyful things and color them in a positive way as they travel on their journey. Perhaps this is how they are helped to evolve into higher entities.

Those thoughts which stick in my mind, having found a similar chord in me, compel me to think further. I may dwell on the origin, history, and validity of such notions before I file or fling them away. But I am the one who chooses to admit any of them as useful or true. I have the choice to consider every thought which enters my mind, regardless of how anyone else feels or what they believe about it. Others may try to convince me of this or that, try to influence what I think and how I should feel about things. Peer groups are notorious for this. From religion and politics to consumer goods, there are always forces at work trying to convince us that their way, their service, their attitude, is the one we should adopt. They may say "this is beautiful" or "this is ugly"; "this is right" or "this is wrong"; "this is what we should eat" or "this should not be eaten"; "this is the true religion" or "this is not the true religion," and so on. Each "authority" attempts to persuade us that their way is right, that their thoughts are the only ones worth considering. Without exception, however, all thoughts need our own consent to make them true to our internal guide. It is always we who have the final choice: the choice to think for ourselves, test theories against universal truths, and search the touchstone within us. If we do not choose to believe any thought, then it does not become part of our conscious reality, who we are at any moment.

We need to maintain our thoughts in a fluid state, not crystallizing them into frozen dogmas which never grow to encompass new areas and concepts. Our own consciousness learns and evolves into the unbounded kosmos, and carrying old unchangeable thought-forms with us is simply unproductive. As a baby we knew certain things and had a certain perspective on the world. That perception changed as we grew. As we have ever more experiences, see ever new connections between things, and develop deeper thoughts, our world naturally grows and expands to accommodate those ever-changing realities. It's not too big a leap to understand that from lifetime to lifetime, as from birthday to birthday, we progress to higher levels of consciousness based on whole lifetimes of experience lived and learned from. Our consciousness has the ability to expand to the ever-elusive horizon of truth if only we are willing to free it from its confines.

Moreover, the truth, like a sculpture, changes as we view it from varied perspectives. The Thinker by Auguste Rodin is the same sculpture whether viewed from the ground, above, or behind. Even though it looks different from each direction, it embodies the same ideals and symbolizes the same truth. Any thought can also be viewed from different angles and positions, yet remains whole. We need to wrap our consciousness around each thought and through study and reflection see its various facets. We can then see, for example, that a concept like "home" has many meanings to diverse people, yet despite varied definitions usually retains an archetypal place in our reality.

How do we know our thoughts are real? Because we each choose our own reality, our own perspective to view thoughts and ideas, and we apply them in the world by living within it. This is how each of us "knows" what we know, and why our worldviews seem so widely divergent. Each of us has our own view and our own consciousness grounded in the one consciousness beyond our comprehension. We each have our own reality based on the composition of that consciousness. Each of our views, consciousnesses, and realities is unique and at the same time part of the comprehensive universal consciousness, the ultimate reality. When observed in unison, they form a truth greater than any individual truth: they form ourselves, our world, and our journey through it All.

As each of us progresses on this journey called life, we begin to open our eyes to the truth. This usually doesn't happen overnight, but it does happen over many nights of darkness, false starts, and gradual openings to the bright light of truth. One day we will stare face on, eyes wide open, into a truth beyond our present knowing. Everything in the past which has been building to that day will then seem childish. When that day passes, we will continue to reach yet other truths. It is only here, in the present moment, each Now, that we can work on opening our eyes to that Light, that Truth, so that one day we can open our eyes fully!

(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 2006; copyright © 2006 Theosophical University Press)


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In the conduct of life, habits count for more than precepts; because habit is a living precept, becomes flesh and instinct. To reform one's precepts is nothing: it is but to change the title of the book. To learn new habits is everything, for it is to reach the substance of life. Life is but a tissue of habits. Henri Frederic Amiel