Let’s take a step back and look. What is more important than what we think and what we feel? At first glance, we may respond with: “Nothing.” What we think and what we feel determines everything about the decisions we make and the lives we live. This includes our opinions regarding God, other people, ourselves, the world, our lives, our loved ones, our enemies… everything.
Our education, our upbringing, our life experiences all determine our thoughts and feelings. That determines not only what we think/feel but also who and what we believe ourselves to be.
So what could be more important? Can anything be more important? The answer is “yes.” It is not only important but essential. What is more important than what, is how we think/feel. How determines what we think/feel. We are speaking here, not only of our individual psychological makeups, but also the sociological realities of being human. Understanding that ‘how’ enables us to understand and responsibly deal with what lies beyond the limitations of the psychological and sociological dynamics of our lives. There is much to say about how our minds and hearts are conditioned to think/feel what we do. Maharishi Patanjali had a lot to say on the subject regarding the chit (storehouse of our impressions) as well as what lies beyond the chit.
Sociologically, we do well to consider the ‘herd mentality’ of our species. Groups sway the mentality of their members. A herd mentality, or ‘group think’, reigns. It acts like wind over a wheat field, swaying everything in its path in a particular direction. The mind and heart follow, be it in a family dynamic, a community, a subculture, culture, nation, etc. We then can, and do, justify those feelings with the intellect. The thoughts justify the feelings and the feelings justify the thoughts. Facts are twisted and spun to justify the mentality. ‘Truth’ becomes more a matter of perspective than reality. Perspective is really just a matter of the way the wind blows. The reality is denied and judged in favor of the perspective, no matter how twisted. Back in the 60s, the wind blew many in the direction of being independent, ‘a man who hears a different drum a-drumming.’ But it is not hard to see that this too was just the herd mentality of the time, a mass cry for freedom of thought that was really just another wind blowing a herd mentality in still another trance-like direction. Politicians strive to capture a herd mentality and channel it in a direction. Their unspoken war cry is: “To rule a nation, capture the herd mentality.”
Now the next step in our investigation is to consider the role of a culture. Cultures culture the mentality of the people. When the culture is unhealthy, it sways the people in an unhealthy direction. An unhealthy herd mentality ultimately leads to an unhealthy or even tragic end. We can easily see examples in history as well as current events. But the alternative is not rebellion against all culture—not anarchy. A healthy culture cultures the hearts and minds of the people in a healthy direction.
So what determines the health of a culture? Be it on an individual, small group, subcultural, local, or national level, there is only one thing that brings true health. That is harmony with the underlying source of our being which is, in fact, the underlying source of all existence. Some call it Mother Nature. Some call it the unified field. Some call it God. Some do not believe in it at all. Some simply believe in what they feel, regardless of the way the wind has blown them in whatever direction it did. Then their intellect kicks in and justifies whatever it is they are feeling. As the poet, Bob Dylan, said, “Of war and peace the truth just twists.” To digress, we can add that money sways mentalities with formidable strength.
Unfortunately, most believe in what they think/feel more than anything else. This sadly includes what they think/feel about the underlying source: God or whatever word you choose. Even religious convictions are determined by the way the wind is blowing. We believe in the way the wind has blown us beyond all else.
So what is the solution? What is the way out? Short term, the solution is humility. Self-righteous adherence to thoughts and feelings are simply full blown identity with the direction the wind blows. Humility is the flip side of wisdom. The only true knowing is knowing that you know nothing. After all, thoughts are what we think we know, nothing more.
The way out then, is to more and more fully rest into that level of life that lies deeper than our conditioned thoughts/feelings—lies deeper than the chit spoken of by Maharishi Patanjali thousands of years ago. For this, proper meditation is our most powerful tool. (We use the word “proper” because many, even most, meditations simply reinforce an identity with a particular mentality, regardless of how noble it may appear to the conditioned mind.) More and more fully, we live a level of life that is free from the limitation of conditioning. If we do have an identity, a belief system, around that, the limited identity melts away as we meditate. More and more fully, we live a life free from limitation and in harmony with Nature, with the Divine, with God—or however you choose to say it.
Bottom line is, nature knows best. That is to say, your true nature is Divine. It is not the result of your thoughts/feelings. It lies beyond thoughts and emotions. It is the source of health—healthy thoughts/feelings. As the stress and strain (chit, conditioning) is released from the physiology, we awaken to our true nature. As more and more members of society awaken more and more to that depth of being, the culture becomes healthy. Then the wind blows in a healthy direction. Then peace and harmony nurtures the health, lives, mentality, and hearts of the people. Then wisdom becomes our guiding light.