The Thinking Behind the Thinking

by Brad on April 5, 2011

My recent post (3/25) about internet privacy and Facebook wasn’t really about those things. Big as they are (and my point was that they’re far bigger than we think), the real issue is how we think … or more to the point, how we don’t think … about the undesirable side effects of the “good stuff” we enjoy in life.

“Thinking behind the thinking” is perhaps the greatest untapped source of potential we have for living lives we love; by making our thinking conscious and by taking full personal responsibility for how we use it, we can step beyond the life-constraining and unconscious beliefs that have left us in such despair and with such struggle. Here’s a way to view this.

For every “gain” we accrue, either individually or as a society, we risk incurring a “loss,” by unconsciously trading away a piece of self in exchange for the gain. We’re drawn to gains, so we often miss the subtlety of losses. For millennia, we’ve been distancing ourselves from that deepest part of self, the part we now long to restore yet don’t know how. By relearning how to think, we can use the simple power of conscious thought to create meaningful lives and thriving workplaces.

I debate neither gains (they’ve improved our lives in many ways) nor losses. I debate the lack of awareness that continues to allow losses to rob us of soul and spirit, a condition now so prevalent that we’re easy prey for institutions, governments, religions, businesses, and media, all of which are ready to take from us that which we’re unaware we have. Just ponder the examples of gains and losses here, and think about what you want in your life:

Written language distanced us from the natural world; our experience with a bear, for example, is now with the word bear, not with a bear. Agriculture gave us a sense of control over nature, but with it, fear of something to lose (control over nature). Religions extracted spirit from each of us and placed it “out there” in a place of power, an object of worship. Science told us the world is a mechanistic collection of parts, devoid of human experience; we now fail to trust our own experience. Business, media and government are more than willing to promise us all manner of “better,” (because we need something to feel good about), yet in return show us greed, environmental damage, selfishness, and perhaps worst, a promise they can save us from all catastrophe. Technology has left us seeing Facebook, cell phones and texting as signs of being alive instead of as signs we’re not.

Could our ancestors speak to the loss we now experience, they’d no doubt be in dismay over how we’d let go of our own souls and spirits, having given away the very parts of self that could now save us from despair. What we’ve really lost, however, is the “thinking behind the thinking,” the ability to apply our own unique consciousness to creating a life we love. And in so many ways, thinking is the easiest of all powers to reclaim. Awareness. It’s about awareness. Just notice. What do you see?

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