Who doesn’t struggle with thoughts? It’s estimated that we have more than 60,000 thoughts a day. Is there a strategy and philosophy about the thinking process to adopt?
Tanach and Kabbalah address this issue. Kabbalistically, we are told that the first few seconds of “negative” thoughts implanted in our brain are not our own, but sent from our negative chamber in heavens. It’s our responsibility to disregard these thoughts. As parsha Shoftim so poetically says, Shoftim veshotrim titen-lecha bechol-she’areycha. The drash is that we must place safeguards to prevent evil from penetrating us. First, we must be shoftim, and judge the thought. If it is negative we must be shotrim and destroy it, by disregarding it.
There is also a creative thinking process. The Torah is the most creative document to date. The first verse of the Torah begins, “Breishis bara – In the beginning G-d created.” But based on drash it means, In the beginning comes brius, creativity. This is a mandate for this world, to engage in creative thought.
Addressing active thinking, we know the verse in Mishlei (19:21) says, “There are many thoughts in the heart of man, but the counsel of G-d prevails.” I have heard two interpretations of this verse. The common one is that man has many thoughts, but only the one that G-d wants to materialize will take effect. Another beautiful interpretation is to say that the many thoughts of man are “based on the counsel of G-d,” meaning all our thoughts come from G-d – specifically on the positive and creative side. If one goes with the first interpretation, then we are active, thinking individuals who are blessed to ultimately be guided by the Almighty in the right direction. According to the second path, we must celebrate the fact that G-d is leading our thought process, meaning we are being showered with thoughts directly from above; what a privilege.
Perhaps a philosophy to deal with thoughts is to try to destroy the bad one’s after a few seconds and to embrace the creative one’s either as men of ideas or as recipients of G-d’s thinking process.