When the bird of the heart begins to sing, too often will reason stop up her ears.
Hans Christian Andersen

The landscape of the mind changes thought by thought. ‘Be careful what you wish for’ is an often-voiced warning to temper the longing for things which may seem desirable at the time, but may be harmful or detrimental in the long run. We must take great care and exercise the necessary self-discipline especially in these matters, because, stirred to reality by a thousand forces, a wish can bring blessing but also become a curse if what we wish for is not in the best interests of ourselves, our surroundings or the wider world in general. So it is that we yearn with hope and yet at the same time with anxiety or trepidation because the power of the world of thoughts is both lauded and feared at the same time.

Thinking is a solitary activity, a mental discourse in our consciousness of being steeped in the assailing vibrations of experiences emanating from both our inner selves and our external surrounds. Thus, a thought may be the embodiment of an impulse of desire or volition or the reaction to an external stimulus. Hence thoughts strike us suddenly, amid a continuous random flow into the mind from the relay of sight, sound, touch and other sensations. In thought we seem involuntarily to draw in all manner of perceptions. But it is by the nature of our desires and wishes, our propensity and inner craving that we adjust the mind to the power of attraction of all that is of similar nature, thus what thoughts can or cannot flow in and thereby what feeling can be aroused in us. It is as though through our wish or free decision we stretch forth the hand to clasp what is of like nature. For we can also carve through the fog of disembodied thoughts with focused, rational, innovative and strategic thinking; we can direct an enlightened, disciplined volition to meet the weaving in and around us. Thought activity can knit the strands of our daily lives firmly into a conscious narrative of our experiences and perceptions.

Thoughts define our perception of reality and this perception will be different from the perception of others, although the reality itself remains the same. Any sensation which registers in our consciousness may evoke thoughts, but it is we who are (or should be) always firmly in control so that external influences can never overwhelm us unless we let them in. We talk about having thoughts about this and that, think freely and cannot help thinking in our waking state. Even if most thoughts appear to be only fleeting shadows that leave no lasting impression, they are nevertheless a rudimentary aspect of our sense of self. Our mental life is like a river of thoughts through time, at times fleeting and at other times a flood or surge. We are never without a perception. René Descartes (1596-1650) deliberated on this fact and concluded that if he was thinking, it must mean that he existed. On this basis, he set philosophy on a modern course. In reality, we think because we ‘exist’, not the other way around as could easily be interpreted from Descartes!

We cast thoughts in the world without knowing what they do or how they interact with their surroundings, what this implies for us, and, most importantly, what personal responsibility may be associated with their generation. Some people, though, may feel they have no responsibility whatsoever in this regard because thoughts fall outside the jurisdiction of earthly justice and are therefore considered to be of no consequence. Since thoughts play such a pivotal role in human life, as will be explained in the following paragraphs, our critical judgment demands exercising far greater care in relation to thought formation and making sure that they accurately reflect what we genuinely intend to achieve. In other words, if we would not say or do something, then we should not think it either. Within limits, of course! For instance, we can and should be polite and cordial to people we dislike and try to focus our thoughts on the matter at hand rather than on the person and try to be objective towards them but nevertheless be on our guard. These thoughts of dislike may caution us to be careful in our dealings with this particular person and not let him or her get too close. Provided, of course, that these negative thoughts about the person spring from pure intuition and are not the result of latent prejudices and biases we may harbour against certain types of people.

Everyone knows that one cannot infer real existence from thoughts alone because we can think things up that do not exist. Although these thought-creations may be pure fantasy, they still have the power to influence people, such as fantasy novels, computer games and the like. Movies especially are a great danger here because, through computerized graphics and other ‘tricks of the trade’, they can conjure up impossibilities which are so life-like, that they can confuse the impressionable mind, especially of children, who are, after all, the grown-ups of tomorrow. Therefore, even if these thought creations and their manifestations are fictions concocted by the human mind, devoid of all reality, they are by no means harmless! At the same time, the visionary thought or idea encompasses more than is sensed materially or seen externally. The medieval man might have looked at birds in the air

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