Fairly often I'm told, "Brian, you think too much." Invariably this statement comes from someone who is thinking that I think too much.
So this pot calling the kettle black sort of sentiment doesn't have much effect on me. I find it interesting, though, that almost always the person telling me I think too much is a religious devotee.
Usually a member of Radha Soami Satsang Beas, my once chosen faith, because I still hang out with RSSB initiates – most of whom have no problem with my current churchlessness.
But even when I was giving talks to the faithful I'd still hear the same refrain once in a while: "You think too much." The implication is that spirituality and thoughtfulness are necessarily opposed, that somehow God gave us brains but doesn't want us to use them.
Which reminds me of an insightful comment that I got today on a post on my other blog. I wrote about our "Further unplugging of the Christmas machine." Harry responded by saying that I needed to go even further down the no-Christmas road, as he and his wife have.
But we are adults and have free wills just as God planned it.
Out of respect for him, we use our free will to chose [sic] and direct our efforts.
Agreed, Harry. I also have eyes. It'd be ridiculous to not use them, because I see too much.
When religious types decry thinking, what they really object to is questioning. Because I don't know anyone, religious or not, who doesn't think. A lot. It's part of being human.
Devotees think when they pray, worship, meditate, read holy books, attend church services. They think when they go to work, talk to friends, watch TV, or play a sport.
All of this thinking apparently is fine. But when someone like me thinks about whether a certain spiritual or religious practice makes sense, then this is Bad thinking!
Actually, I'm pretty sure the difference between me and those who say that I think too much isn't in the quantity of our respective thoughts.
I meditate every morning and try to quiet my mind. I often practice Tai Chi, a mind-slowing activity recommended today by a commenter to another blog post. I try to keep my own simple thought-free mantra in mind as much as possible during the day.
So I'm not thinking all of the time, for sure.
Even more: I'm not nearly as attached to my thoughts as I used to be. Especially religio-spiritual-philosophic thoughts. If they point me in a different direction that feels right and makes sense, I change course.
Thus it's more than a little strange that those who tell me I think too much are decidedly reluctant to let go of their own thinking. Year after year, decade after decade, religious devotees have the same old thoughts running through their heads.
"God is…" "The moral thing to do is…" "To reach divinity it's necessary to…" "The truth about reality is…"
My ideas along these lines are continually changing. And I'm comfortable with accepting a big blank thoughtless I don't know in my mind – which threatens the faith of the faithful.
There's nothing wrong with thinking. I'm doing it right now, and so are you. We just should recognize when to think, and when to stop thinking.
Which is why I'm about to turn on the TV.