Do you ever observe someone doing something and wonder “what were they thinking?” In other words, how did they decide to do THAT? Or, wonder the same thing about yourself? (It’s often easier to be shocked by someone else’s actions. At least, that is, until hindsight sets in.)
I recently had the opportunity to make such an observation of a decision that my mother made: filling me with wonder, puzzlement, and a bit of horror. When I observe something that seems anomalous or surprising, I examine how it was created by looking at the “big picture,” or the reality construct, in which it originated. Said another way, I go back to the source, rather than fish around in endless details for meaning.
My deeper observation of this event has inspired this article, to help you identify — and dispel — personal (and planetary) “clouds of thoughts.” A lot of storms begin in these clouds, especially the dark and dense ones. Most would agree that (life’s) weather is more pleasant under clear skies or with pink and fluffy clouds overhead …
The Phone Call
Late on a Sunday afternoon, I received a somewhat unsurprising, but still unexpected, call from my mother. She informed me that her husband had died in his sleep last week. Not a sudden or tragic death by any means; he has been kept alive by surgeries and medications for longer than anyone could have anticipated. What was most remarkable about the call … he had died several days ago, and the funeral was in less than 24 hours (and 3,000 miles away). She waited until now to tell me. Despite spending over 40 years with this person in my physical life, I was amongst the last to call. This didn’t strike her as odd or problematic at all. Really?
In fact, she opened up the Christmas present that I sent him, and told me how much she enjoyed it. I still am not sure exactly what day he died. I think it was Christmas Eve or Christmas morning.
After the initial bit of shock faded, I was quite puzzled by the whole series of events, and the decisions of the participants. I already understood that they have created a very different reality from mine, and it is quite distant in most respects. In fact, it might as well be on another planet for most purposes. I’ve observed the separation of many realities, on many scales over the past two decades.
Still, though, I figured that my mother might have gotten around to letting me know that he had died, sooner than later.
The next morning, I contemplated the situation, on my regular trail run up and down the Santa Cruz Mountains. (Presumably while the funeral was occurring, though she didn’t disclose precisely when it was.)
In the stillness of the foggy dawn air, just after light rain, I perceived a beautifully clear metaphor for her “line or reasoning.” My mother — like so many others — was acting from a self-contained “cloud of thoughts.”
The Cloud of Thoughts
The metaphor of a “cloud of thoughts” borders on not being a metaphor at all. It is quite close to a description of true reality, from the sub-quantum to the physical level. The physical experience of reality arises from the interaction of different “particles,” most moving so quickly that they are hard to discern individually. One sub-atomic particle bumping into another. One molecule bumping into another, triggering a cascade of internal biochemistry. One thought bumping into another …
From the mountainside, I watched my mother’s “cloud of thoughts” for a bit, observing how it worked, and how she likely reached her decision to call me. Complex, of course, but following well-established patterns of relationship and interaction. With respect to her privacy, and the difficulty of mapping something like this for an outside reader, I will focus on how “the cloud” works.
Within the cloud, thoughts relate to other thoughts. One thought leads to another. And other. I am guessing that you can recognize these trails of thinking within yourself, and how they can lead you to some glum moments?
The key aspect is that most thoughts are self-referential. That is, the thoughts don’t refer to something outside the cloud. Thoughts refer to other thoughts. Therefore, anything is possible! There’s no outside “check and balance” to evaluate the veracity, or even utility, of a thought. The thought exists by right of its own existence. Often based upon nothing more.
When someone has thoughts that are essentially based upon nothing of real substance, the results of the “thinking” can be wild. At some point, they are classified as delusional. I would like to propose that a LOT of “normal” thinking is actually delusional. It might not meet social or medical criteria as such, but the structural pattern of unsubstantiated ideas generating realities is pretty much the same. No wonder our world often seems insane? Yes?
The Cloud: personal to planetary
The largely unsubstantiated nature of thoughts is the starting point to free yourself from The Cloud.
Like most transformative processes, the first step is recognition. If you don’t realize that you are in a “cloud of thoughts” (like my mother), clear and conscious action is hopeless. All you have is The Cloud to re-create The Cloud. Thoughts to generate more thoughts. The Cloud does not even realize that it is a cloud.
You can keep going indefinitely within this self-generating world, not understanding the cause and effect relationship of your thoughts, actions, and life creations. Until you stop yourself. Or something “stops” you. (In some respects, a description of a spiritual awakening could be the self-recognition, or cessation, of a part of your internal cloud.)
In fact, the most destructive and dangerous “clouds of thought” are the ones that are most self-contained. As I said, within the reasoning structure of the self-referential thoughts, there is no escape and no counter-balance. Conclusions can be reached with no basis. Actions can be taken with no recognition of consequences or impacts outside The Cloud.
Does this help explain the behavior of individuals around you — and in the larger world?
The Cloud can be scaled up from the individual to Collective Clouds. Self-referential worlds are in abundance nowadays. Sometimes they are called “social media communities.” Or any sort of community. However, insulated networks of perception, justification, and belief abound in digital realities that are detached from physical contact and feedback.
Free yourself from The Cloud
As noted above, the first step to free yourself from The Cloud is recognizing the cloud(s) which you inhabit. A personal “cloud of thoughts” is usually nested within other clouds. Many of those clouds might even have long-standing “credentials” of authority, validity, and power. Most of those credentials are not thoroughly analyzed or questioned.
Which leads to the next step: questioning your own thoughts. Have you ever meaningfully and deeply traced a thought back to its origin? All the way back? And then, have you examined the origin? Sometimes an explanation or description replaces the process of truly examining the source of the thought (or its quality).
Again, we are back to the problem of self-referential reality. Because if a thought (which usually comes from a belief, an idea, an experience) seems credible or obvious, it is not questioned. That’s often part of the “invisible” framework of The Cloud — something so obvious that it is not actually questioned. (More here on the hard-to-see “energy drains” of life …)
I would like to suggest to you that meaningful contemplation is not “thinking your thoughts” about something. Rather, it is “questioning your thoughts” about the subject/object of contemplation. Those are VERY different pathways of inquiry, and, ultimately, understanding.
When you start questioning your thoughts, you are immediately “poking holes” in the cloud. You can seal those holes up with more thoughts, of course. But if you keep questioning, the holes will get bigger and bigger. As the space expands, the cloud breaks apart. In this way, you dispel the cloud from the inside.
The Quest for Clear Skies
Dispelling the clouds of your thoughts — and collective Clouds — is a systematic and sequential process. One question leads to another. One hole leads to another. What was once dense and packed with beliefs, convictions, and ideas starts to thin out so that you can see these thought forms for what they are. When you observe them, rather than automatically embody them, you can make a conscious choice about what serves your intentions and life purpose.
Like most lasting and genuine transformation, there isn’t a quick fix for the “cloud of thoughts.” Some clouds are thinner and fade more quickly. Others might not even be visible yet. As I noted earlier, the invisible clouds are the most concerning and problematic. I suggest that you form a strong intention to find those “unseen clouds” ASAP, if you are truly seeking freedom from the The Cloud(s).
From my perspective, the benefits — and hence motivation — for dispersing your clouds of thought are fundamentally these: 1) capacity for truly conscious action, 2) spiritual and physical sovereignty, and 3) inner freedom.
When dwelling within your cloud (and the collective clouds), you are not free.
Within the cloud, you are bouncing around in a container of limited perception. In another article, I call these the “containers of reality.” I would say that the goal of your effort is NOT to “change your thoughts”, but rather, to liberate yourself from your container of reality. Then you will be truly free. Otherwise, you will continue living in a (better decorated) cloud. And probably not even realize it.
In essence, I suggest that you approach dispelling the Cloud — on whatever scale you are called — as if your life and freedom depend upon your success.