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The Concept of Pre-Thought
Just out walking along a delta country road.
What is that voice in my head?
It is the little things that go on in our mind that create the greatest obstacles or pathways to accomplishment. There is a voice inside of us that carries on an internal dialogue. In that dialogue we discuss things with ourselves. In that place nothing is forbidden to be mentioned. There are no restrictions on what that inner voice tells us. There is no filter. Thoughts just come in and are thrown about. Sometimes they are ludicrous. Sometimes hilarious. And sometimes they are down right wrongful. Of course they can also be delightful and wonderful.
Our inner dialogue can process millions of data in just seconds. It can be near instantaneous with outside stimuli. Some would call it “our first thought” but that would be to not understand it. It is literally pre-thought. It is a synopsis of a state of being that is prior to logical and rational thought.
You have just had hundreds of these pre-thoughts while just reading the above. These pre-thoughts do not follow any order, they just are. We may spend time judging these pre-thoughts. Probably a waste of time and yet discernment and understanding of them may be worthwhile. Quite often a normally functioning adult may find themselves asking “where did that come from?” as the fleeting thoughts may be totally out of character from our rational and socially adjusted minds. We can have seemingly horrible and terrible pre-thoughts. There is a kind and gentle man who has pre-thoughts of bigotry and hate. There is the scoundrel that has pre-thoughts of love and compassion. Of course there is everything in between.
To truly know the gift of silence is to know some peace.
For a walker, nothing is more inviting than a small road with no end in sight.
Friend or Foe
It is an interesting exercise to note pre-thoughts and actually consciously recognize them and think about them. We may find ourselves asking “why did I just think that?” but in essence that might just be an erroneous consideration. Is a pre-thought really a thought at all? It could be understood to be just that; some pre thinking. Our minds are mystical and mysterious. Certainly there is much that goes on in our central nervous system core that is not thought. For instance pulling one’s hand from a burning sensation or tingles that run up and down our spine when we are frightened. There are even fight or flight responses that require complex physical activity that just happen seemingly without thought.
Mental silent verbalization of these pre-thoughts is common. We point that out for two reasons. First it is important for people to truly grasp that they are not the only ones with this happening. Secondly it is interesting to observe that our minds actually form words without thinking. There are some people that seem to have a direct connection between their pre-thought and the actual auditory verbalization. They actually have a condition that allows them to speak out loud without thinking. Most people know someone like this and probably have actually had it happen to them. Words just come out of our mouths prior to us having had a contemplative moment over the words or thoughts conveyed. We see this phenomenon occur most often when one is speaking about something they know about but then run out of what they know and begin to just spew words out of their mouth seemingly without thinking. Take note that this is reason enough for many speakers to have written speeches prepared and to “stick to the script”. We have all heard great twenty minute sermons that regrettably went on for thirty and the last ten minutes was rambling discourse that made little to no sense.
So what are we to do with these pre-thoughts? They are there and they buzz around our head like a hive of bees. If we spend time working alone, even at our desk in a busy office, or much time actually being alone these pre-thoughts are actually the bulk of our conversations a day. Think about that. The average person walking around spends more time talking to themselves than to others. And probably most of that conversation takes place in pre-thought if we are receiving reasonable bits of stimulus. Probably we should be paying attention and in fact turning into an asset something that takes up so much of our time and energy.
Searching out the places where only ragged people go.
What immediate reaction we have to something may tell us a great deal. Then again it may tell us nothing.
Nothing new under the sun.
Clearly this is not new stuff. This has been a condition of man since recorded history and probably beyond. Take a moment and reflect on what you understand about meditation. Certainly the practice dates back to the written word in both the western and eastern cultures. Regardless of the type of meditation that one practices the first order of business is to settle the body into some state of calmness. The obvious reason for this is that it is done in order to get the mind to follow. Yes meditation is in essence a calming of the mind so that it may be focused in a particular area. We are then able to guide our attention to a positive focal point of thought. Well just what are we calming our minds from? We are directing attention away from the day to day distractions. But it goes deeper. A meditative state is one which has quieted the mind and the noise that the practice quiets are these pre-thoughts. In essence for thousands of years people who care about such things have been working on ways to stop the pre-thought state of affairs in our mind. That is a lot of millions and millions of hours spent seeking to address an issue that is not discussed much in our lives. There literally have been billions of people over time that have tried to control or at least abate these pre-thoughts in order to better themselves. It becomes apparent that man does not cherish these pre-thoughts and in fact finds a healthier life without them. So a fundamental question arises. If the pre-thoughts are so ingrained and such a part of our natural being, shouldn’t we be trying to understand them and utilize them rather than fight them?
In the natural order of meditation there is a strong theme that runs through the dealing with these pre-thoughts that just pop into our minds. It would be easy to say and yet near impossible to do to banish them completely and ignore them. No the most proper way to deal with them is to allow them access and to recognize them, not judge them and then set them aside and move on to a quieter place. However there is a twilight time and place in reaching a meditative state. That is a time when the pre-thoughts are slowed down to a manageable level and yet not yet totally gone. The remaining pre-thoughts would likely be the most prevalent in our minds. In this state of “slowdown” we can actually grab ahold of these pre-thoughts and evaluate them and learn from them. This is a time when we have slowed down and calmed our bodies and have found a place in our selves where outside stimuli is not impacting and creating more and more pre-thought by the second.
The practical aspect of this is shown by the example of the man who has disturbing and relentless pre-thoughts of sex. For some reason this otherwise ordinary and healthy man, without thinking, snaps his head in the direction of any female derriere and has pre-thoughts of sex with that woman. We are all quite aware of this phenomenon and most likely if we are over 20 years old have been affected by it in some way, and most likely not positively. As the man does this at dinner with his lovely wife and is called on it, he offers up the lame excuse “I cannot help it”. Well we have news for such a man. Yes you can help it. First we must accept the notion that this is pre-thought behavior and inner speech. Then we can evaluate whether we want it in our lives or not. Then we can go after it. We can get ourselves in a readiness of mind to conjure up the pre-thought and then trap it and deal with it. We do not actually have to go to any subconscious state or involve ourselves with deep therapy and or medical attention. What at first blush may seem all wonky and complicated actually becomes quite simple and easy to deal with.
How about you?
Do you experience fleeting pre-thoughts?
Take the time, it is worth it.
So if we take the time we can actually put these pre-thoughts to work for us and rid ourselves of unwanted pre-thoughts and ultimately control a large part of our time and energy that heretofore was left untapped. The mechanics are simple. First we have to limit and ignore the outside barrage of stimulation that creates these pre-thoughts initially. This will slow down their “growth rate” to a manageable level. Next we have to concentrate and slow down or still our minds. Then we must be patient and wait for the particular type of pre-thought to flow into our conscious mind. At this point we focus on it and evaluate it. Where does it come from? Why does it pop up? Do I still want to have it come up? Personally I suggest in most instances that we simply agree with ourselves to wipe it clean and start anew with a clearer picture of ourselves. Oh be assured that that part of the mind is stubborn and it may take some repeated conscious effort.
Now at this same time why don’t we just take some time to implant new pre-thoughts of a positive nature. Our mind is a canvas and we can imprint on it anything we like. So while we are at the task of cleaning up the old and unwanted we can leave behind some new and wanted origins for pre-thought.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could do this instantaneously? And of course if our lives were that of mountaintop Tibetan monks cloistered away in a serene monastery we probable could. But alas, in our lives it takes some concerted effort to bring those pre-thoughts into alignment with what our passionate enlightened minds and hearts want in life.
A little note here on the positive. Sometimes those little “thoughts” are really good. For a writer they may even be a muse of sorts. It is a worthwhile endeavor to slow down life just enough to take a look at some of the things our mind comes up with. Check it out, you may be pleasantly surprised.