Sunday, August 25, 2013

Thinking about Thinking

I’m on my own for 6 days, while V and Finn are up in Scotland. I’m left looking after the dog and horses. I’m loving being on my own, doesn’t happen often. I’ve been sort of writing a story, hence no blogs, but then last night it all came out on Facebook after I put up a quote by the writer Harlan Ellison, which I then proceeded to comment on. Here is what I said.

“If you make people think they’re thinking, they’ll love you; but if you really make them REALLY think, they’ll hate you.”
- Harlan Ellison

REALLY thinking - I think that's when you ask people to look at their basic assumptions and values, things they take for granted as reality, things that are important to them, albeit maybe inconsistent and contradictory. They won't like you for that, even if they want to go there, it's still painful.

Values are the Second House in Astrology. They are so central to who we are (and often unconscious) that I think they should be an Angular House.

Oh dear, I've just questioned the canon, does that constitute REALLY thinking? 

And then there's people thinking they're thinking. I think an example is the liberal consensus of political views, they often come as a package - anti-nuclear, anti-fracking, anti-GMO, pro-abortion, anti-capitalist. Now I'm not saying I disagree with these things, I have qualified agreement with some of them depending on the day of the week. But they are often held in a black and white way, holding one view implies you hold the others, and that is not thinking. One is just thinking what 'thinking people' think! And you can get people who don't share all or even any of these views who are just as concerned about other people and the state of the planet, who maybe REALLY think!

In a way, I don't think that WHAT we think matters too much. It's how we hold our views that matter, it's to do with rigidity and lack of openness, and you get that across the political and religious/philosophical spectrum. You really do, for example, get people anti-religion in a fundamentalist way, and I think I'd have more in common with a tolerant Muslim or Christian or Jedi Knight.

I think one phenomenon that creates rigidity, and it's a very natural one, is when someone holds another person in high regard as a teacher or influence. Or a tradition like Tibetan Buddhism. There is often an unconscious rigidity there about the teacher or tradition that forestalls questioning and grown-up discussion. But it's a phase a lot of us have to go through. REALLY thinking is a big ask, I think it takes a long time for most of us.

When I say openness I don't mean it in just an intellectual sense. That is easy. I mean it particularly in relation to things we FEEL strongly about, as they don't tend to get questioned. As William Blake said: "A man convinced against his will, retains the same opinion still." It's that 'will' that counts, that isn't always amenable to logic.


Thomas Gazis - Θωμάς Γαζής said...

Barry you stroke a fundamental chord! Thinking is an enormously "conditioned" and often biased procedure! That's why one of the most precious contributions of the ancient Greeks to humanity was the "free, unconditioned thinking" they "invented"!

I don't think there is pretty much "free thinking" in our modern world and in our so called "democracies"...On the contrary, I think we are going now through some sort of "middle ages" ultra conditioned, marketed and biased thinking....

Gilly said...

Very well said.

Sun said...

Excellent article and good timing. One of the key insights of our own writing is that the mind is a feeling construct first, and a thinking construct a distant second. That makes it much easier to entertain different thoughts than different feelings. Little wonder then, that when things are discussed, most of the talk is at cross purposes.

Barry Goddard said...

Yes, Thomas, I agree, I think it's middle ages too, I think our assumptions about reality are just as strong now as they were then, except now its scientific/ technological/consumerist instead of Christian.

And Sun, that's a really interesting point about it being harder to entertain different feelings than different thoughts. We're kind of stuck with what we feel, and we often don't even know what we're feeling, and out of that arises thought!

TheDeepGoat said...

I guess I am already thinking of you as Barry, after being aware of you as Dharmaruci for aeons:)Anyway, I can appreciate what you are saying about 'real' thinking..also about the 'herd mentality' of 'green causes/eco/protestor.etc etc..i have 'done my time' in conspiracy theories and now i see it as a sort of 'swamp or jungle' that one can get very lost in! in fact recently i had an insight where I had reached some mythical white mountains and was looking out over the mazes i had been through...i think 'thinking' people can end up creating such a mass of loops and thought trains that they eventually form a rather confusing 'obstacle' like a spaghetti junction or a 'mandala of madness' that can take some time to move through.Then, maybe a bit of time can be spent sitting on the mountains and redying the self for whatever is next..but maybe more of a 'growing' rather than a intellectual quest! Anyway...lucky you for having 6 days...i have 2 kids and a partner and crave space to think..maybe why i have created a secret nature place and write blogs about if u are interested in taking a look..thanks for another great post

Barry Goddard said...

Hi Deep Goat - Pluto in Capricorn! Just had a look at Druid's Bower. There's not many people who'd actually create a secret place in nature like you've done, it gives a strong impression of you. Thanks for the link!