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General News · 11th February 2012
Mark Braaten
Have you ever asked yourself “What are these things called thoughts?”

Amazing that something so fundamental can often be so taken for granted! Few would be satisfied with Mr Webster’s evasive definition:

“An idea or opinion produced by thinking or occurring suddenly in the mind.”

What does this really mean?...”produced by thinking” – “occurring suddenly”

Some consider the “mind” to function like a radio in which various “thoughts” are received and transmitted. The “owner” of the mind may exercise her prerogative to change the channel if she wishes – that is if the dial is functioning properly. Most would like to claim that theirs is a deluxe model with Dolby noise reduction, a band selector and even an equalizer in there somewhere.

Others imagine the mind to be a data storage and processing facility that can intelligently manipulate bits of information to produce a reliably useful thought product. Presumably the more data that has been entered, filtered and sorted, the better the product will be.

Each spiritual cosmology, religious doctrine, psychological model and even scientific hypothesis, offers profound and diverse views on the nature of thought. To digest all of these involves a great deal of thinking about thought.

Inquiring more practically we might ask what role do thoughts play in the cause and effect of events? We can easily notice how thoughts are the seeds of words and actions, the results of which give rise to new thoughts. Which comes first, the chicken or the egg – the action or the thought? Words and actions definitely have a noticeable effect on events but what about thoughts on their own? Could thoughts have a direct creative power of their own? And if thoughts can pass from mind to mind, which ones are original and which ones are a replay?

In this information age we all come across at least 2 or three incredibly wonderful if not deeply troubling stories every week that seriously stretch our imagination about “who we are” and the ”grand scheme of things”. These fascinating dramas transcend the mundane experiences of day to day life. “Thought” is the illustrious director and producer of the show. We might best apprentice from a Jedi master how to skillfully wield this “light saber” of the mind.

But how much effect do these “incredible” stories actually have on our thought patterns from day to day? Actually not much! Our thoughts are all too habitual, absent mindedly trudging the same old path round the block. Could even absent minded habitual thoughts play a role in cause and effect? Certainly not so much as powerfully conscious and intentionally focused thoughts, but there aren’t many of those around…

What if they did? What if even weak thoughts that we are barely aware of are being passed on to others like chain letter. One gets a thought, just another of the 1000’s of thoughts that we file in the trash each day, barely noticing but with an almost imperceptible twitch of like or dislike, approval or denial, then on to the next thought. Another picks up the same thought drifting by and check marks the petition, attracted / or repelled. The votes get added up in a collective unconscious opinion poll without anyone in the crowd surveyed even aware that they signed anything. Day after day we filter the same data in different forms, eventually etching a groove that will make a sound when a needle passes through it, a fixed conscious opinion, a word then a deed.

Now that we’ve opened our minds wide enough to glimpse the thoughts inside, please allow to me ask you some more questions about Peace.

Did you hear that there’s another war brewing? Is it more or less important than the morning coffee? Sources indicate that there’s more collective support for this war and less resistance to war amongst Americans (and their close buddies) than there has ever been in the past decade. Why? Have you heard the justifications? Are they actually believable? Is there any cause to doubt the justifications? And is it really fair? … meaning… from a kindergarten ethics point of view- Uncomplicated with wordy explanations - is it fair for me to force you to stop doing something, that I like to do, just because I want to be the only one doing it? What would the teacher say? Is it fair for me to hit you with a baseball bat because I “thought” you were planning to pick up a stick? How would this make you feel? What kind of thoughts would you have? What would you tell your friends?

We might think that there’s nothing we can do about these “big” things – that they’re too far beyond us, we’re powerless. We might sink into semi-conscious apathy and be comfortable there. We might not want to think about it at all – as if that were even possible. The only way to return from this pit of disempowerment is to find something that we can do, that we are empowered and free to choose.

We can consciously choose thoughts of peace! We can glimpse through the mirage of suspicion, prejudice, blame and fear people who are just like us, who struggle and suffer and get offended just like us; Who might feel isolated and misunderstood and pushed around and angry just like us. What if we were to write them a letter to tell them we understand, or even just said a prayer for them, or helped them to develop some safer and cleaner ways of meeting their energy needs? What if we give them one from our own prized collection of baseball bats for keeps, with a promise that we will never hurt them and that we hope they will never hurt us in return? What would they tell their friends?
Could we invite them to the church picnic and then make a donation of flowers to their mosque? We could even beg their forgiveness for any suffering we might have caused at any time in the past. We could dress up in traditional clothes and learn some of their favorite songs to sing for them… wouldn’t they forgive us then?

Our thoughts do make a difference. Surely life has taught us all that important lesson in many different ways. When calmly one pointed, empowered by the heart and blessed by Divine Grace they can move mountains. If thoughts like these, thoughts of peace, grew into irresistibly attractive words and actions they might even become trendy. Seems these days anything trendy needs to be more unusual than anything ever seen before. What could be more unusual than peace?