John O’Donohue (as you can tell, O’Donohue has joined my array of spiritual writers such as Thomas Merton, Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Douglas Steere, Henri Nouwen, Andrew Murray, Macrina Wiederkehr, Anne Lamott, C. S. Lewis, Barbara Brown Taylor – the list goes on . . . so many good good writers who share spiritual wisdom and inspire me – who make me want to be a better person).
. . . back to my original thought: John O’Donohue writes about thought in Eternal Echoes. A short excerpt from the book:
Thought is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. The way you see things makes them what they are. We never meet life innocently. We always take in life through the grid of thought we use. Our thoughts filter experience all the time. The beauty of philosophy is the way it shows us the nature of the layers of thought which always stand invisibly between us and everything we see. Even your meetings with yourself happen in and by means of thinking. The study of philosophy helps you to see how you think. Philosophy has no doctrines; it is an activity of disclosure and illumination. One of the great tasks in life is to find a way of thinking which is honest and original and yet right for your style of individuality. The shape of each soul is different. It takes a lifetime of slow work to find a rhythm of thinking which reflects and articulates the uniqueness of your soul.
More often than not, we have picked up the habits of thinking of those around us. These thought-habits are not yours; they can damage the way you see the world and make you doubt your own instinct and sense of life. When you become aware that your thinking has a life of its own, you will never make a prison of your own perception. Your vision is your home. A closed vision always wants to make a small room out of whatever it sees. Thinking that limits you denies you life. In order to deconstruct the inner prison, the first step is learning to see that it is a prison. You can move in the direction of this discovery by reflecting on the places where your life feels limited and tight. To recognize the crippling feeling of being limited is already to have begun moving beyond it. Heidegger said, “To recognize a frontier is already to have gone beyond it.” Life continues to remain faithful to us. If we move even the smallest step out of our limitation, life comes to embrace us and lead us out into the pastures of possibility.
. . . To think is to go beyond. Thinking that deserves the name never attempts to make a cage for mystery. Reverential thought breaks down the thought-cages that domesticate mystery. This thinking is disturbing but liberating. This is the kind of thinking at the heart of prayer, namely, the liberation of the Divine from the small prisons of our fear and control. To liberate the Divine is to liberate oneself. Each person is so vulnerable in the way he or she sees things. You are so close to your own way of thinking that you are probably unaware of its power and control over how you experience everything, including yourself. This is the importance of drama as a literary form; it provides you with the opportunity to know yourself at one remove, so to speak, without threatening you with self-annihilation. Your thinking can be damaged. You may sense this but put it down to how life is. You remain unaware of your freedom to change how you think. When your thinking is locked in false certainty or negativity, it puts so many interesting and vital areas of life out of your reach. You live impoverished and hungry in the midst of your own abundance.