Rene Descartes

I’ll think what you’re thinking

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Rene Descartes
Rene Descartes – thinks what your thinking

Cogito Ergo Sum’ (‘I think therefore I am’) wrote Descartes in answer to the metaphysical conundrum of mind and matter and this insight ushered in the scientific model.

Yet, if Buddhists and neuro-scientists are right, we might not think at all.  Or at least not enough to differentiate us from all other life on the planet. Our thoughts may, in fact, have a basis in evolutionary biology and have nothing to do with being human.

Renowned holistic physician Deepak Chopra believes that our thoughts are not unique to us. Instead, they belong to a shared consciousness where everyone and everything has thoughts of jealousy, hate, love, kindness, empathy, and so on.

It looks like we are empty shells waiting for thoughts to appear. These thoughts may be positive or negative, helpful or destructive.  When we are emotionally fragile, negative thoughts proliferate and we become susceptible to depression, anxiety, hatred and anger. When we are emotionally strong, positive thoughts, including love, forgiveness, generosity and empathy, are plentiful.

Noting our persistent thoughts and questioning their origins can help us become free. These thoughts include unpleasant memories from the past and fearful projections into the future that, if left unchallenged, lead to dysfunctional work and family relationships. However, when we stop negative thoughts we allow positive thoughts to flourish and our lives improve.

If thought originates outside the self then we can choose how to respond. In Latin this becomes,  ‘Sumo vestri cogitationes sapienter’ — ‘Choose your thoughts wisely.’

Science of the Soul

Author: Sue Bell
Sue Bell is an entertainment writer and author of Backpacked: A mostly true story, Beat Street and When Dreamworks came to Stanley.

4 thoughts on “I’ll think what you’re thinking

  1. Something I notice is that often what I consider a thought emanating from “me” is actually showing up all over the place. I laughingly call it receiving “cosmic memos” because something I am thinking turns out to be “hot” in other people’s minds as well and I find friends often introducing the same thought or topic when I have not yet spoken of it at all! Is it a mystical cross pollination happening?
    Elizabeth Gilbert gave a stunning TED talk on the Muse —-related to this–how thoughts, creative impulses, fly by and if we do not catch them, they will move on to another “dreamer” who is awake and ready to receive the download!
    thanks for this post, Sue!

  2. Very true Morgana, it makes me wonder about the whole area of intellectual property and are ideas collective that we tap into or are they the property of one person? I’ve seen Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk and as you say it is really interesting.

  3. Fascinating to think (!) that we may not be alone, as a species, with our thoughts. One of the things I’ve been learning as part of mindfulness training is that thoughts happen i.e. that is what the brain does. It put a whole new perspective on thinking. Very helpful in being able to take a step back and identify less with these. If the brain throws up thoughts like the stomach digests food, then what is the point in being annoyed by certain thoughts? etc!

  4. Merridy! I love what you offered here. It is liberating to see thoughts as just what the brain does–sort of like a popcorn popper in full out “pop mode”–no ill intent, just doing what it does. Anything that helps me/us to step back a bit and unhook from judgements “about” is very helpful.
    Why be annoyed, indeed!

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