How do you choose your thoughts? Are you proactive about it? What is the basis of your thinking?
Do you sometimes get carried away in the wrong direction, disturbed or overwhelmed with what is changeable and unworthy around you? Are you focused on getting your own way, flailing about, trying to feel satisfied? Are you paranoid, obsessed by comparison with others, or domineered by a fickle temper that is hard to control? Are you contentious, fixated on your problems, or burdened by fractious bouts of anxiety? Do you swing on a pendulum of good days and bad, or are you stuck in inertia in a bland, boring middle ground where nothing excites you? Do you need to jumpstart your thought, but have no idea of what is wrong or how to rectify it?
Here is some advice on achieving steady bliss that I’ve found so helpful I want to shout it from the rooftops. It has to do with actively and consistently choosing the basis of your thinking. First, there are some important things to understand.
The human mind is limited, even though it is somewhat miraculous in its own right. It is circumscribed within the five material senses, and filters the world into opposing polarities and dualities. Its burdened, myopic awareness can at best only be partial. The human mind is the default basis for our thoughts, and unless we make a conscious choice otherwise, this lesser mind will define and control our experience. People often don’t know they have an option, so regardless of the inadequacies of the human mind, it usually constitutes the shaky foundation of most people’s thinking.
But consider this. We cannot see Truth objectively from a subjective perspective. There must be a non-personal capacity or outlook with which to comprehend it that is superior to the restricted, fallible, human mind. How can Truth be perceived as empirically true, when our human mind colors it with its own lens, like a stained glass window alters our perception of the light? We can see objectively beyond our own human mind only through a higher, ultimate consciousness– the divine Mind or God– that is completely essential and pure.
While many people don’t know it, or don’t avail themselves of it, we all have the capability to align ourselves with the divine Mind at any moment we choose. It is very liberating to do this, even though it is not always easy. It seems to me that to live the Christian life is to choose to do this as much as possible. But how?
Thoughts govern our experience. Most of us concede that thought affects experience, but I think it is important to clearly realize that thought actually constitutes our experience. We live in thought, not matter, as physics is starting to prove. That is why we should choose our thoughts carefully.
So what is the origin or basis of your thinking? Is it personal sense, the testimony of the physical senses, your opinions, mood, emotion, fear, lack, lust, pettiness, jealousies, competition, sense of self, or ego? What if we chose instead to base our thinking on God-like qualities, God-like thoughts? I have a slowly growing series called Qualities of Spirit on this blog where I talk about my experiences trying to do just that.
There are many hundreds of God-like qualities and attributes to focus on and nurture within yourself. I urge you to make a huge list of them to inculcate. But let’s start with the short list we are given in the Bible called the “fruits of the Spirit.” The Bible tells us that “against such there is no law,” which is another way to say that doing these things assuredly does meet the highest standards possible. This is a remarkable endorsement for these fruits as content for our thoughts. Maybe we should sit up and pay attention! So what are they?
Here are the fruits of the Spirit as listed in Galatians (5:22-23 KJV): love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. An interestingly pithy selection from the hundreds available, right? But these are things that make an immensely positive difference without being easily corruptible or misconstrued.
When we live from a perspective of joy, it transforms our day. When peace, gentleness, or meekness are at the center and forefront of our thoughts, actions, and motive power, it can revolutionize our world. Long-suffering sounds unappealing– who would want to suffer long?!– but it actually means slow to wrath, patient, devoted, stedfast, reliable, tolerant, and empathetic, which are all beautiful things that everyone needs more of.
This bit in the Bible goes on to say that “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” The fruits of the Spirit are God’s thoughts that we are to think and live as well. They are the way to shake off our limiting monkey minds that distort, distract, and disappoint us. They are our conduits of brilliant, actual, interfaced connection with the one divine Mind, God, who lives these fruits of the Spirit all the time. They are ours too, ripe for the plucking at each and every moment.
As more and more of us embrace this approach of God-like thinking, instead of self-focused, divisive thinking, together we’ll experience heaven on earth. It is possible. Let it begin with us, and let the blessing of this approach radiate outward to include and enfold every bit of afflicted, unhappy humanity. It may seem hard to do, but actually, it is harder in the long run not to do it.
And before I get off my soapbox, I thought you would like to see that same passage from Galatians in the Message version of the Bible, “What happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard – things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely… Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives.”
Please join me in actively striving to think out from the singular, enlightened, divine Mind instead of our many, inferior, human ones. It is very different and totally worthwhile! Let us turn down the malaise of separateness in favor of the joy of devotion and unity. Let us be pro-active about how we think, since it is the root and stem of our whole experience. Let us be known by our fruits– the fruits of the Spirit!