The Prison of Thoughts
“People who have no hold over their process of thinking are likely to be ruined by liberty of thought.”
― Allama Iqbal
A captivating prison, peaceful, terrifying, overpowering, and an escape from reality. A thief, highwayman, rebel, bondage. A delusion, guide, seeker, wanderer, dreamer worldly, and otherworldly. The thoughts of man take myriad forms. Every moment the surreal and vibrant colours of ideas paint a new picture on the clean canvas of mind, a new image every day, some thought, some novel yet some horrendous. A phantom concealed in inquisitive thinking, sometimes divine guidance in the form of contemplative thought, a multitude of unknown ideas arrive from the unseen to test, guide, and deceive man.
The most common visitor of the mind, so frequent are its interruptions that it appears to be a permanent reality. Thus the abode of unending thoughts is the mind. Every now and then, a different view, wishful thinking, good and bad ideas strike the mind like drops of pouring rain on a rainy day. Thoughts are beautiful at times, lured by imagination into the fertile grounds of wishful thinking. If considered, opinions could be deemed entertainment at times, a clever construct of the mind delving into desires running deep into the cracks of personality itself. The cover of thoughts is like the clouds surrounding the eye of a hurricane, impregnable. This barrier hardly gives way for the rays of light to touch the surface, whatever lies on the surface. Deeming oneself to be other than oneself, thoughts paint a beautiful picture for the sake of self-deception, hiding the true Self.
Man considers himself worthless without an external attestation to his claims or validation of his status either in society or in existence itself. This feeling gives rise to many endeavours man undertakes. Upon reflection, one may say that this feeling regarding its effect on man is not unfounded and exists for a mighty reason. Thus validating the notion that everything exists for a reason, comprehensible or not. Our minds can only grasp reality piecemeal, the Divine wisdom is all-encompassing, and the mind cannot endure such a stupendous complexity.
All things exist for a reason. To fathom the purpose of thoughts becomes even more critical. Perceptions propel us to action, deeds, and even inaction at times, regardless of the end they pull the human person. The cloud of thoughts is so thick on the mind that it acts as a perfect distraction from the true Self. The Self, the centre of existence, lies with every human. In the void of man reigns the mighty Self as a mirror of divinity. When attention is directed on the Self, thoughts crumble and become ashamed of themselves. The eye of the hurricane subsides at the mention of the Self, bringing man face to face with the most daunting question in all existence ‘Who am I?’, properly put given the utter ignorance of being ‘What am I?’. Once you toil down the road of self-meaning for a while, an existential crisis is quickly set aside as unanswerable.
Most of our thoughts come from our attributes, desires, concerns, and fears. If the deadly sin of gluttony has taken hold in a person, thoughts of eating rich viands are familiar visitors. Such people witness a table spread with delicacies at their favourite restaurant as well-known thoughts are vividly apprehended. Although the organ associated with gluttony is man’s stomach, when given air, it becomes an unyielding desire. Desire projects its wish as a thought into the mind, a phantasy nurtured in the minds of people who have given in to urges. Almost everyone would concur that when a desire is satisfied, thoughts regarding it do not come into the reason immediately. Still, only when the satiety of the desire changes into hunger a new beam is cast into the mind.
Much of the myriad thoughts that inflict the fertile mind come from the above-mentioned sources. Conversely, it does not mean a person with little distracting thoughts has purged the desires, but he has learned to control them. So that such conceptions cannot overwhelm his mind, and he can focus the intense attention of the mind on other issues or simply be aware of himself.