Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Thinking as the primary thing: as an end in itself (meditations in a migraine)

Yesterday - as not infrequently happens - I had a sustained and severe migraine which was not fully controllable: consequently I had a lot of time to think, but much of the time found it very difficult to think.

But at certain phases and balances of the pain and its treatment, again not unusually, I was able to think with exceptional lucidity; perhaps because (most activities being necessarily suppressed) the process of thinking then feels to be detached from other mental events; and can be isolated, studied, and simultaneously experienced...

Anyway, I then experienced (and made notes on) what I had previously often argued-for - that thinking is the primary thing and should be regarded as (pretty much) an end in itself.

Whereas typically we regard thinking as merely a means to some other end - as a thing justified by results. We try to use thinking to achieve some goal or another; we don't in general try to live-in our thinking, nor to enhance our thinking - to purify or strengthen the process... That is seldom or never the case.

In some ways it is hard to believe that a single person, thinking, is of prime importance in the vast scheme of things; yet in other ways - when it is actually happening - nothing seems more likely. It then seems obvious and natural than that this thinking, going on here-and-now, is indeed the most important of all possible things with which we personally might participate - that this thinking is of universal and permanent significance. 

When it is clear and strong, when I am alert and aware, the activity of thinking really does feel just like what I have worked-it-out it to be: the main thing.


  1. Well, "thinking" has no defined limitation to transcendent truth, and in our vernacular the term "thinking" has decayed even from implying rational processes (which was an implication grafted somewhat uneasily onto a term that originally merely implied conscious rather than unconscious mental activity).

    It is not wrong to demand of our ordinary thinking that it be oriented towards results, because it is thus that we elevate our though process from mere conscious mental activity to an explicitly rational mental process. Nor should we permit the rationality of our thoughts as an end. It is only when we have direct communion and participation with the divine nature that we can say that cognizance is good in and of itself, because it is the substance of our rapport with God.

    And even at that, we must allow this experience to move us to actions, to engage our bodies in the loving service which God commands. This service often means enduring bodily and mental discomforts, and even suffering pain, which competes for our attention with the cognition of our real relationship with God and God's proximity (even immanence) to us.

    To become able to focus on awareness of God's loving guidance even when suffering great pain brings us very near the ultimate end of our mortal existence...fittingly enough, it is often achieved only at death. It is wrong (if tempting) to think of the perception of this world as an illusion that must be dispelled, if it were mere illusion, there would be no point in God not simply dispelling it for us. Reality is painful, that is to say, it poses dangers and allows harm to our bodies, which are the instruments through which we must take action in service, for love is not satisfied with impotence to serve the beloved. To have lost the physical ability to serve is painful, to stretch out our arms to serve risks injury, which is painful.

    And ultimately, to reach out in love and be rebuffed by hatred is painful.

    This pain even God must bear. And we also, to the extent that we become like God.

    All the pain we suffer in life, to learn to focus on the presence of God with us (signified by the name, Immanuel) despite any pain, can serve to train us to bear even the suffering of our unrequited love for those who choose to hate. This is the grief we cannot help but feel when we are truly aware that God is with us.

  2. @CCL - What Steiner calls Thinking, I have tried to specify in terms of Primary Thinking (of the real/ divine self) - a clarification I got from Arkle.