A Way For Thinking

A Way For Thinking

Inner Voices, by James Tissot

Jesus said to them, “When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female female; and when you fashion eyes in the place of an eye, and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot, and a likeness in place of a likeness; then will you enter the kingdom (Gospel of Thomas, 22).

I was watching something a few days ago on television and noticed someone saying, “The thought came into my head,” meaning, of course, “The thought came into my brain.” Is the brain the point of origin for thoughts and ideas? I am of the opinion that every part of the body thinks. Through imagination, the animaterial soul is the bringer of thoughts and ideas. Since soul permeates every atom of the animaterial body, thoughts and ideas can have their origin in any bodily element. It’s more likely that the body/soul is a Gestalt, where the holistic animaterial body is greater than the sum of its parts. Remember, when I mention “soul,” or “body,” I mean the intertwined soul-body (henceforth abbreviated as ISB). This is similar to what Heidegger called Dasein, but with an emphasis on the ensouled nature of Being. It is akin to what Jung called psychoid reality, or his idea of the unus mundus.

Thoughts are not just “in the head.” The ISB is a continuum for thought. The brain is obviously a processing center for the body, but that doesn’t mean that thinking is necessarily a product of the brain. In our age, we view the brain as a computer, a calculative thinking machine. Thinking is not necessarily calculative. Western culture has overemphasized many things, especially calculative, analytical thinking. We have limited our definition of thinking to one type. Yes, this has brought our civilization many wonderful advancements, but at what expense? We have also unleashed many evils on the world, such as atomic weaponry. Most of all, we have forgotten other, more essential, types of thinking.

We don’t “have” a body and a soul. This idea of possession is a product of the Cartesian dualist fallacy. In reality, we are Animatter. Contained in this word are all the amazing attributes that characterize humans, as well as the idea of the ISB. Jettison the idea that we are thinking only with our brains. The animaterial human thinks, feels, emotes, intuits, and becomes healthy and ill holistically. There are certainly different aspects of animaterial being that can be spoken of, but, in essence, we function in this world integratively.

It is strange to think like this, since we are so accustomed to analyzing so-called objects. That’s the story of Western science, to analyze and dissect Nature. Read what Giordano Bruno says:

…the soul of the world is in the whole world, and is everywhere so adapted to matter that, at each place, it produces the proper subject and causes the proper actions…the whole soul is in the whole body, in the bones and in the veins and in the heart; it is no more present in one part than in another, and it is no less present in one part than in the whole, nor in the whole less than in one part. Rather, it causes a nerve to be a nerve in one place, a vein to be a vein elsewhere, blood to be blood, and the heart to be the heart elsewhere.

This is the most important and most fundamental of all the principles which provide an explanation of the marvels found in nature; namely, that because of the active principle and spirit or universal soul, nothing is so incomplete, defective or imperfect, or, according to common opinion, so completely insignificant that it could not become the source of great events (Cause, Principle, and Unity, p. 111).

What is thinking? It depends on what mode of consciousness the question refers to. The World Soul reveals itself in various ways, according to whatever mode of unfolding is needed at a particular moment. The two predominant modes of thinking are 1) the strictly rational, discursive type of thinking; and 2) the intuitive, immediate, and mythopoetic type of thinking.

Strictly rational thinking most likely involves the brain, since it really is a computer. Rational thinking is, of course, the most predominant type of thinking in Western society. It objectifies and attempts to dominate all things. It believes that all things are within its purview and under its control. This is because it is driven by an overinflated Ego. A mind ruled by analytical ratiocination is always in danger of becoming a mind that desires more power and more control over Nature, which includes the minds of others. I daresay that extreme attempts at ratiocination are at the root of all totalitarian ideology. That being said, rational thinking also is beneficial if used at the appropriate time.

Imaginal thinking is something we in the West are sorely lacking and are much in need of. The entire ISB is capable of this mode of thought. This is what is romantically known as “thought of the heart.” In our tendency to focus on separate parts of things, we immediately think of “heart” as the organ that pumps blood throughout our bodies. I think “heart” refers to the core of our being, that which makes us human. According to Henry Corbin, writing of Ibn Arabi’s teachings,

This power of the heart is what is specifically designated by the word himma, a word whose content is best suggested by the Greek word, enthymesis, which signifies the act of meditating, conceiving, imagining, projecting, ardently desiring–in other words, of having (something) present in the thymos, which is vital force, soul, heart, intention, thought, desire…(Henry Corbin, qtd. in The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World, by James Hillman, p. 5).

It is himma, this mythopoetic thinking, that is in reverential awe of Nature, and it capable of going beyond ratiocination to a better, more superior kind of thinking. It is this mode of thought that brings forth wondrous symphonies, poetry, art, and literature that deepens our awareness of soul; and it is this mode of thought that will save our world.

Souls think because souls are bodies and bodies are souls. Soul is not located in any separate part of the body, as Descartes believed (the pineal gland). Soul and body are one undifferentiated Being (ISB).

It seems to me that, if we are interested in redefining our world, we must change the manner in which we think. We must learn to think. In essence, we must unlearn thinking. Calculative thinking is fine, in the proper context, but it is not the only kind of thinking we humans need to utilize. When we read a poem for instance, we most certainly do not use calculative thinking. As Martin Heidegger said, “…we can learn thinking only if we radically unlearn what thinking has been traditionally” (What Calls For Thinking?).

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