Thinking is over-rated. Frankly, thinking’s much of the reason you’re so eager for spiritual help. You want to taste something of God that thinking’s not been able to cook up. But you don’t know how to find that something except by thinking. You’re not alone. Hundreds of years ago, a French philosopher named Descartes said, “I think therefore I am.” Most of us since him have pretty much lived that way—our thoughts defining who we think we are. But Descartes made a grave error in his thinking and messed us all up as a result. And if you can follow what I tell you here, you’ll have the key to unlock what poet William Blake so memorably called the “mind-forg’d manacles” that hold so many of us prisoner. Here’s what Descartes missed: the fact that you can think a thought means that you are therefore not that thought. You are someone higher, deeper, truer than the thought you’ve thought. So we can correct Descartes and say, “I think, therefore I am not my thoughts.” The I who I really am is not the thoughts I think. Your thoughts—and emotions too, the anxiety or fear that hounds you—are merely expressions of yourself, they’re not yourself itself. And if they’re expressions, then you don’t need to follow them wherever they try to lead you, you don’t need to do whatever they want you to do, you don’t have to believe whatever they tell you to believe. Instead, you can watch them, examine them, and then decide what the true you will do with them.
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