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Exactly, Michael. We tend to try to solve everything like it's a math problem, when sometimes it's best just to clear our head, put whatever it is on the 'back burner', and go about doing something else.

An idea might come to mind that didn't occur to us before just because we're willing to forget about it for awhile.

Nice. I like the rat / cheese analogy. :-)

Nice. I like the rat / cheese analogy. :-)

t is possible for us to jolt ourselves out of this mental rut and to realize that what we're thinking is merely a repetitive series of thoughts produced reflexively by the mind.

I would agree there except for repetitive series of though produced reflexibility by the mind. I know you see the brain too as a transmitter of consciousness not the producer however other people reading this who are atheists may think you are agreeing with the neuroscientific assumption that the mind and brain are the same and that the brain somehow produces feeling, emotions, memory, thoughts ie consciousness.

Yes, you have control over what you think about. Therefore given that certain aspects of reality are subjective we have some ability to create the reality of our choice by how and what we choose to think.

This can be hard for some people to see. We don't always realize the extent that we choose our thoughts. They seem to come to us automatically. However it is really that our thought patterns are ingrained habits that we have had for so many years they are like water to a fish just part of the environment we hardly notice.

All those troubling thoughts that worry you or annoy you are unnessary. This is one of the things buddhist meditation is helpful with. When you mind is calm you see that such thoughts are optional. Positive thinking, cognitive therapy also point to this.

I find this topic to be relentlessly fascinating. Michael's mental experience is one we've all shared, the circular path of ruminating, chewing and rechewing of the same mental cud. Rumination does not seem to produce the results desired, and can even be harmful. It should be noted that rumination is a key feature in endogenous and neurotic (reactive) depression (though not, in and of itself, causative), and seems to show our perhaps unjustified overconfidence in conscious thought. I've always considered that understandable, as it is the thought mode we feel (erroneously or not) most capable of controlling. However, it may actually be far more productive to NOT think consciously about a particular problem or subject and leave the matter to the subconscious thought processes. This can be difficult, I know. It is similar to being asked NOT to think about green elephants (good luck). Still, there are far too many examples of the subconscious producing positive results in problem solving and creative thinking to continue believing that our conscious thought train is the best mode of travel to our desired destination.I've come to equate conscious thought directly to the ego, and to regard its productions with care. More than being the source of our most basic and "primitive" urges, the subconscious is capable of extremely high level concepts and notions. I've come to explicitly trust it in producing art and music, and continually try to enlist it more and more in all other aspects of existence. Michael H. calls it the "back burner" aptly enough. Much cooking is achieved there.

Somewhat off-topic, but related to the consciousness question and the oft-discussed philosophy of materialism, the third issue of>AntiMatters has just been released. I've only read the preface so far, but laughed out loud when an image of Richard Dawkins seething in rage came to mind as a read this:

In the next essay Christopher Holvenstot characterizes the scientific endeavor as a low grade autism (Asperger’s disorder, a dissociative disregard for the logic of conscious states, emotion and interrelation and a high regard for things mechanical). His observation that “the right to describe reality to humanity comes with incredible perks and privileges difficult to relinquish when the paradigm loses it luster” recalls Dykstra’s analysis of why so little is done to remedy the failure of traditional science education.

Sorry to spin off-topic. The thought that some here may enjoy this link just sort of came to mind. :-)

“Yes, you have control over what you think about.”

Do we have control?

What about our subconscious or our supraconscious? Or maybe what many call spirits from the other side (soul guides); do these spirits have any influence over our thoughts? It appears to me that sometimes I almost feel guided in a certain direction in spite of my best efforts to go in another direction.

I think I read somewhere that Michael P wrote a book that he felt very guided in what he wrote. I remember reading where a person almost got into a very bad head on car accident but someone or something took control of the car and drove her home.

We are creatures of habit and conditioning. How many people can see past their nationalism, patriotism, politics, or religious beliefs?

I suspect there are many variables involved prior to and in creating our thoughts. How many of those variables are significant we do not know at this time. We have some insights but only some suspicions. There is much more to know but then that is part of the mystery of the journey for not only we humans but also our souls.

If we knew everything there is to know how could the infinite absolute express itself? Oneness must love drama all we have to do is look around to see this drama in action. Within that drama is a not knowing status.

William says "What about our subconscious or our supraconscious? Or maybe what many call spirits from the other side (soul guides); do these spirits have any influence over our thoughts? It appears to me that sometimes I almost feel guided in a certain direction in spite of my best efforts to go in another direction"

I am right behind you on this William, many times in my life I believe I have been led to people, places, situations. I've have thoughts that guide me in a direction that I understand at a much later date and I have even written songs from out of nowhere from start to finish in one sitting, to look back later and see the message had relevance for a future situation around the corner.

I remember this one time I began to think of my mother and thought about, one day when she dies whether I would sing at her funeral and if I could actually handle doing it(pretty depressing stuff to think of I know but it came from nowhere unexpectedly).

Just as I was thinking this another thought came through, saying "Watch American Idol, sing the song "Because you loved me".

Don't laugh but my immediate reaction was to shake my head(as though I had water in my ears after a swim at the beach) it was weird :-). The thought didnt sound like me, it was different, slower calmer and very peaceful. My thoughts are more racy always flipping over from one thought to another.

After thinking about it for a few minutes I decided to just put it down to a moment of crazy thinking. Later on that night I went to my folks and I was coming out of the bathroom when I heard that song playing on the TV in the room the kids were at. I had been sitting in a different room talking to my folks, so I made my way to where the kids were and there was the girl on American Idol singing that song.

Now I rarely have TV on at my house, so I saw no advertising anywhere including radio and it was so immediate and strange how the thought came through and an answer followed.

I'm sure skeptics would try and rationalise this experience to subconscious suggestion but how does one explain the difference in my usual thought style and sound to this other one.

I dont know about you guys but I believe it belongs to another, not my higher consciousness.

Like Kevin, I find this subject fascinating, not so much from an academic viewpoint, but because I want to try to defeat neurosis and negativity. I have recently purchased a book called, “The Astonishing Power of Emotions”, which got rave reviews on Amazon. This shows page after page how we can tune away from the negative, unproductive, repetitive thoughts that Michael P refers to.

It states that our dreams are already understood and realised by our higher self (there are no delays in heaven: what you want, you get). Our dreams can be (and are designed to be) materialised on Earth by “The Law of Attraction”. We just need to focus on them and stop resisting their materialisation. If we could understand this and discipline ourselves, it is suggested, we would simply drift downstream and our dream would be there waiting.

To learn to create our dream and stop resisting it, we simply turn in the direction of what we want by positive thinking, rather than reacting negatively to what we don’t want. Thoughts that please us are positive; thoughts that don’t are negative. So basically, we judge the usefulness of our thoughts by using our emotions as our guide.

The biggest difficulty for positive thinkers is when things appear to go wrong: things seem to be moving in the right direction, then a big problem arises. The book does address this issue. All problems must be seen as a sign of our need to expand: our dream is changing, or it is becoming more detailed. External problems are placed there by the universe not so much to make us react against them, but to assist us in creating our dreams by defining them more clearly.

An example is definitely in order . The one that follows is mine –it’s not from the book.

Suppose I have always wanted a house in the country. I only have a vague idea of what it would be like, but I don’t spend much time thinking how good I’d feel if it came true. The dream is a bit woolly, it just seems a distant possibility. Then something happens: I get ‘bad’ neighbours. They are noisy and leave the lights on all night.

The old paradigm would have me react negatively to this situation. I certainly wish more for my place in the country, but instead of imagining how I’d feel there or how I’d live there, I think about how bad my neighbours are. I think how I can’t get any peace and I wish they’d turn their lights out. I focus much more on the neighbours than on the dream. Repetitively. By resisting the neighbours in thought word or deed, I turn “upstream” away from my own dream.

I move house. It is not my dream house in the country, because I don’t believe I’m ready for it. I work in town, I can only afford to live in town, my kids are at school in town, so nothing has changed. Except the neighbours. Or have they? Soon the same problems reappear. I haven’t solved anything. I am no closer to my dream. The negative, repetitive, unproductive thoughts about my neighbours are back.

I need to understand that if I try to get my neighbours to change, I am attempting the impossible. They have free will and are entitled to pursue their own dreams. Understanding this takes a great weight from my shoulders, because wanting other people to do (or not do) things is never truly part of your own personal dream.

The true way to see this new situation is creatively. The neighbours are being placed there by the universe for that very purpose. My higher self is using them to give me a wake-up call. It is saying, “Come on – you’re not focussing! Do you want to get to your house in the country in this life or the next?”

How can the neighbours be used to make my dream more definite? By using them to create “rockets of desire”. Every time I see their lights, I think of lovely dark nights with a myriad of stars. Every time I hear their noise, I think of peace; I think of the breeze rustling the leaves of the trees and blackbirds singing: first one, then another a little way off, then a third replying a long way away in the woods beyond. Now I can understand why I want a place in the country. I have a greater appreciation of the nature of tranquillity and how I would appreciate rural life.

Whereas my dream was formerly a bit vague, and I was drifting downstream rather slowly towards it (perhaps by saving money), it now picks up: I have defined it more clearly, and every time I see or hear my neighbours, I think about my dream. It is much more in focus that it was before they came along. In this way, the realisation of my dream becomes much nearer, and much more likely. The neighbours are not to be seen as a barrier to my dream, but rather a stepping stone towards it.

The book focuses mainly on how we might gradually turn our thoughts from being upstream to downstream. If we can turn our thoughts wholly downstream, it promises that our dreams are only a little while off. The universe has infinite power and can easily adjust physical reality to accommodate us. If we do not do this, and allow our thoughts to be trapped upstream where our problems are, they repetitively bug us, just as Michael P says they do. Meanwhile, our dream remains that: just a dream.

Actions are not important in this philosophy – another great weight off our minds. They are useful if they form an enjoyable part of the dream, such as building or decorating our dream house –but only if we actually want to do it ourselves.

This philosophy has an interesting consequence for Michael’s blog. It suggests that thoughts are important –vitally important, insofar as they give us pleasure and lead us on creatively. Michael P and Michael H often suggest that thoughts are properly to be seen as a kind of hindrance to our true reality. So the question is this:

Is Abraham (the entity channelling this philosophy) correct? Are we here on Earth to learn how to create our own physical reality by positive focus? Can our dreams ever be achieved without the right kind of thoughts? If we give up our creative thoughts, do we give up our dreams?

Yes we do

William said:
"Do we have control?
What about our subconscious or our supraconscious? Or maybe what many call spirits from the other side (soul guides); do these spirits have any influence over our thoughts? It appears to me that sometimes I almost feel guided in a certain direction in spite of my best efforts to go in another direction."

Ah, but we have free will. Such thoughts may pop into our heads (whether from the subconscious, supraconscious or the Higher Self or spirit guides), but we can choose to heed them or not. In a person who chooses not to heed such thoughts, the brain learns to filter them out as unwanted noise or static; eventually he/she no longer notices them. The person who chooses to listen to such thoughts may benefit from guidance from a higher realm of consciousness (beyond the brain/self) and enjoy a richer spiritual life. I've been guided many times by such thoughts or ideas, and I have never regretted my decisions based on such "guidance." When such an idea or thought pops into my head, it's usually accompanied by a gut feeling/intuition that this is good for me, it's truth. One time when the inspiration came to do something very big and risky and spontaneously, I asked myself, "is this the best choice for me?" I actually saw a white, glowing, pulsating crystal. So I made the leap of faith and did it. It was the best thing I've done yet in my life, and my life has changed for the better; as a soul, I'm growing and evolving! I learned later the crystal I saw symbolized intuition; guidance coming from Spirit.

Of course, with choosing to pay attention to such thoughts, one also needs to use discernment - is this idea indeed coming from higher consciousness (supraconscious via the gateway of the subconscious) that is for my highest good? - as in soul growth/development; sometimes the more diverse, difficult path is best for the soul! Spirit is concerned with our soul development and expansion of consciousness, not material matters. Or is this a case of a lower, mischievous spirit playing with you, or your own ego - which seeks to serve the physical self - sneaking back around in through the back door even though you thought you had quieted the ego?

The brain is a tool of consciousness. Thoughts may pop in unbidden, but we have the free will to listen to them or not. Depending on our choices, we train and reinforce the brain either to filter them out (thus turn them off/make them disappear) or to pay attention and heed their often wonderful and almost magical guidance.

How creative can an infinite all-knowing absolute oneness be?

But create a big bang thought that we call a universe and set in motion the right conditions for an evolution of consciousness to occur and here comes both drama and creative thoughts and actions.

Maybe should have stated that god not only loves drama but creative ideas and actions, which have their home in thoughts.

How can this occur? Only through a not knowing status for individuals and societies that have a perception of being unique and individual.

A synonym for not knowing: ignorance or in god's eyes: innocence.

From creation to ignorance to suffering. The Buddha was right the origin of suffering is ignorance but then he was Hindu and the enlightened Hindus already knew that the origin of our suffering was and is ignorance.

"Yes, you have control over what you think about."

I'm not so sure about that. I'm very suspicious of free will and lean heavily towards fate and predestination. I've had one too many precognitive dreams where I've dreamed about stuff that is going to happen sometime in the future to be so sure about free will. This always brings to mind the Aberfan Coal Slag disaster in Wales on 21 Oct (1966).

The Aberfan Disaster
"At 9:15 in the morning of a Friday an enormous heap of coal mine slag (dirt, ... Aberfan disaster produced more reports of psychic phenomenon than any other".

Aberfan disaster premonitions, 1966
"The Welsh coalmining village of Aberfan was hit by a wall of coal slag, ... The day before the disaster she said "Mummy, I dreamt I went to school and there."

Like Art, I've had enough precognitive experiences to become convinced that predestination is a force in human lives, but I don't think it functions in all instances, leaving moments (perhaps often crucial ones to our development) in which we can exercise choice. In a situation such as this, it would be imperative for each person to have no clue as to which moment was "scripted" and which was "improvised". They should basically "feel" the same, always giving us the sense that our behavior is our own creation. As Hope noted, most (if not all) of us can recall a sequence of instances which seemed to direct us to a certain moment, whether to experience that moment firsthand or to be placed in a decision-making situation. If a plan or design is at work, we can understand the need for us to be unaware of what the nature of that situation actually is.How do we explain those NDEs in which the person is offered the choice of returning to their lives or moving on except by the exercise of free will?

Remaining on topic, we can see how our collective offerings on this subject of recursive thinking can open new perspectives on those rats and ruts. Allowing the subconscious to do the majority of the creative thinking has been one of the revelations I've gained over the years. On those occasions when I'm approached with a painting commission on a particular subject, once I accept the commission I intentionally put the subject matter out of my conscious thoughts and let my subconscious come up with a solution. When the thoughts have more emotional content they seem much more likely to create a recursion, being much more difficult to put aside due to their personal nature. Our mental rats appear to like certain mazes and cheeses more than others, so perhaps it is our personal investment in a particular subject which stimulates that reflexive thought pattern Michael refers to. When a workable solution (cheese) lies at the end of the maze, we get the extra incentive for our rats "instant replay", over and over. But if the discussion of the topic increases our awareness regarding these "mindless" regurgitations, we'll be better equipped to recognize them as they occur and change the channel. Who wants a mobius loop of endless "instant replay", even if it is of our "greatest hit(s)"?

sometimes those instant replays are needed to survive the day.

out of high school I had a very boring job bending coat hangers and those random thoughts and instant replays came in handy.

maybe what we think is not needed is needed.

I doubt if most humans can have just creative and orginal thoughts.

>“Yes, you have control over what you think about.”

>Do we have control?

I don't think we necessarily do have control over what thoughts come up. But we can control whether we pay attention to them, grant them importance, identify with them ... or just see them as mere momentary thoughts that can be ignored.

In other words, free will doesn't consist of choosing which thoughts to think, but rather of choosing whether or not to grant our thoughts any importance.

"In other words, free will doesn't consist of choosing which thoughts to think, but rather of choosing whether or not to grant our thoughts any importance."

I think this is exactly right. The mind is a machine. It is not the individual. It is a tool that our true selves use. It can be a poor master but a good slave when properly trained.

Most people allow their minds to develop automatically and allow it to run their lives on a kind of autopilot.

For me, I am Soul, an eternal being that takes on emobodiments that include a subconscious mind, a conscious mind, an emotional body and a physical body. (I don't believe we "have" a Soul; I believe we "are" Soul.

The minds and bodies I take on can take over and run my temporal life, but I work much better the more I reside less in my mind and emotions and more in Soul, from a more detached state of Seeing, Knowing, and Being, and work to train the mind and emotions to respond to the dictates of Soul, rather than have Soul get lost amid the auto-pilot clutter of mind and emotions.

It's a challenge, because karmic patterns impress themselves on on each new embodiment, and we have to take extra effort to shift from identifying with mind as the smaller self, and reside in Soul, that eternally present being, the real Self.

That's the essence of Self-Realization.

I agree with Mr. Alexander.

For the philosophical minded, the current issue of AntiMatters that I linked above has an excellent piece on Radical Constructivism, that posits that each of us entirely constructs our own reality as we develop. As Mohrhoff writes, for those of us who believe in Truth with an upper case "T", it's the epistemology of choice.

In any case, the key to everything is simple psychology. Each of us has the choice moment-to-moment as to what thoughts we choose to give life to, though we don't always have a choice as to what comes to mind. Genuinely seeing that will eventually bring one into the moment, which is the other aspect of Self-Realization.

I missed MP's preceding post, which is spot-on as well.

“In other words, free will doesn't consist of choosing which thoughts to think, but rather of choosing whether or not to grant our thoughts any importance”

“I think this is exactly right. The mind is a machine.”

Can these become very dangerous statements. For one free will is an oxymoron and to state that the mind as a machine. Kind of like saying the universe is a machine. We certainty have the ability and will to choose but is it free? The word free has connotations and is often taught as absolute freedom.

Example: raise a child to be a racist and that child will most likely become a racist. Create a society and instill nationalism and patriotism and that child as an adult will almost always make decisions based on nationalism and patriotism. Germany is a classic example of this as are other countries.

Another example: when I look at the evangel movement in this country where free will is taught as some kind of absolute truth these people appear to very rigid in their beliefs and lack compassion and tolerance for those that do not believe like them. The most Christian country in the industrialized world and we have a death sentence for certain criminals. Old testament thinking and from my point of view not in line with what Jesus taught; the very person they claim to be a follower of.

I have always preferred the term choices within boundaries and what are those boundaries. A not knowing or unaware mind. A society can become a very blaming and judgmental society if they do not try to understand the difference between free will and choices within boundaries.

I noticed when I studied the so called self-realized enlighten Hindu masters they were teaching religious ideas and beliefs they had learned as a child. From my point of view the idea of free will resides in the ego. The ego loves the idea of free will. I suspect there is only one will and that is god’s will.

Aligning our thoughts with gods will from this sea of mental thoughts (i.e. thoughts as energy) that reside in the universe may be the challenge (evolution of consciousness) and struggle (drama/interaction) of the soul’s journey. But then if we were created with the ability to always align our thoughts with God’s will, there would be no journey.

Does God express its oneness in our perception of our having an individualized consciousness to learn over time to align our thoughts with this pure awareness?

>raise a child to be a racist and that child will most likely become a racist.

He will be a racist, unless and until he learns to view his thoughts as only thoughts, and not as who he is.

I think free will operates to the extent that we are aware of what we're thinking about. If we're operating on autopilot, as we often do, then free will is inactive, and our thoughts are generated automatically. If we become aware of our own thought process, we can stop this automatic thought-generation and consciously direct our thoughts in a more focused way.

Exactly, Michael. It's fun to think what would happen if this understanding spread worldwide. Imagine the impact in the Middle East for example.

If we're going to entertain thoughts anyway, they'd might as well be the pleasant ones.

Anyone who's suffered from anxiety, depression or OCD will attest to that. The concept of getting over them is not to get rid of the thoughts, but to modify your reaction to them.

"He will be a racist, unless and until he learns to view his thoughts as only thoughts, and not as who he is."

Easy to state but very, very difficult to do. If you do not think our beliefs influence our reaction to our thoughts try discussing politics and religion on some blogs on the internet.

Many if not all of those beliefs are at a subconscious level.

Look around in the world and see how few are not affected by their thoughts that have been influenced by their beliefs.

I have noticed even self realized masters that teach others to only view thoughts as thoughts teach religious beliefs that they learned as a child.

"Exactly, Michael. It's fun to think what would happen if this understanding spread worldwide"

Profound difference between the words understanding and knowledge of what is possible.

Very few humans in the world have this understanding but quite a few people have this knowledge about thoughts. The first is based in realization and the second is based in intellectualism.

One must be very careful as the ego will convince itself it has understanding when in realty it only has knowledge about thoughts. The Buddhist’s teach there is a higher knowledge and a lower knowledge. Most of us live in the realm of that lower knowledge.

Example: I find very few people that can step outside their nationalism and patriotism to view their country as an objective observer rather than as a bias participant. Anthony de Mello the catholic priest from India appeared to be one of those people. It appeared that Jesus was also one of those people.

Example: I just heard on the radio today that the US government is upset because china is increasing its military funding to 45 billion. Lets see they are about 4 times larger than us in population and we spend how much on military funding. If the Chinese spent as much per capita that we do on their military budget it would be about two trillion dollars per year.

Phillipians 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

"Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will."

Lovely quotes, Hope -thank you.

Michael H - I read your link to Radical Constructivism, which is interesting. I once read a book called "The Disappearance of the Universe" which seemed to be saying the same thing on a spiritual level. But I considered in the end that it was actually solipsism. If we can't judge that anything outside ourselves is actually there, that applies to people too. You might be a figment of my imagination. I know what you and Hope are going to say: We're all figments, except as one in spirit. But then, how do we know spirit is not a figment? Presumably because something is doing the observing? There, I've answered for you!

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