Some thoughts on thoughts

The ability of the mind is infinite and yet, few seem aware of it.

Take a word, any word.

Let me take “lemon.”

If I use my voice, I would need at least 15 minutes to describe everything that comes to my mind: yellow, sometimes green, small, sometimes medium, sour, a drop in the eyes hurts, le gâteau au citron dans le restaurant à Cannes, lime, los tacos del señor sobre Avenida Insurgentes, excellent for digestion, the flowering lemon tree in Ismael Kadare’s book “Le concert” I read many years ago, etc. And I am not even finished.

Now if you use just your mind without trying to assign words or even images, a seemingly insignificant thing such as a lemon, can produce an incredible number of thoughts.

Some say we average 3’000 to 4’000 thoughts every waken hour. This makes about 50’000 a day.

Just imagine what they maybe.

Take the next two minutes, observe your thoughts and see for yourselves.

What happened?

One thing happened: you did not have precise thoughts and had to force yourself to invent them since you were thinking about what to think! Isn’t it amazing? —amazing enough that it is often described as “advaita” in Sanskrit, no-thought, no-duality, one step away from illumination. Amazing indeed!

Now, looking at the last 30 minutes, try and list in your head all that you thought about.

It is exhausting isn’t it? And most of it was not … very profound, was it not?

Where does this lead us?

For a start, we need not have profound and life changing thoughts all the time. Rather just noticing the color of the sky and the smile on someone’s face are enough. Equally so, some thoughts are practical such as applying a recipe while making lunch, or putting together a schedule.

Another thing is reducing the number of thoughts. It is in fact a good idea and does not render us less intelligent, rather the opposite. It makes us think better and be more focused. So if we could manage to have a thought and “think it through” without wavering all over the place, as so many Buddhist and Tao masters urge us to do, we may untangle our minds and perhaps even our selves.

Finally, so as to keep the thought process related to this essay as parsimonious as possible, can you imagine how the world would be if only a fraction of the thousands of thoughts we have every hour were positive? I mean, no negativity, no criticism, no comparison, no judgement. Just imagine that!

Now I have given you something to think about.

Thank you for reading and I hope you smile.