Poll

Do Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives?

Yes
3 (30%)
No
0 (0%)
Sometimes
4 (40%)
Never
1 (10%)
The TV Show 'Glee' is dumb
2 (20%)

Total Members Voted: 10

Author Topic: Do our thoughts determine our lives?  (Read 1121 times)

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Offline GabrieltheCelt

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Do our thoughts determine our lives?
« on: August 11, 2012, 04:24:50 PM »
I've been studying this concept for about two months now and was interested in what all y'all have to say about it.  For those who answered 'Yes' or 'Sometimes', could you provide any Patristics quotes you're familiar with that support your answer? 
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Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: Do our thoughts determine our lives?
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2012, 06:57:43 PM »
Could you expand a bit on what is meant by this?

Offline GabrieltheCelt

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Re: Do our thoughts determine our lives?
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2012, 08:26:56 PM »
Could you expand a bit on what is meant by this?

 I read in the Dhammapada (a collection of sayings/teachings attributed to the Buddha) something interesting about out thoughts:

 "Our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think.  Suffering follows an evil thought as the wheels of a cart follow the oxen that draw it." Chapter 1, verse 1.

 It goes on to say:

 ""He was angry with me, he attacked me, he defeated me, he robbed me" -those who dwell on such thoughts will never be free from hatred."

 Because Orthodoxy teaches that parts of the truth can be found outside our Scriptures, I researched our Traditions to see if we had anything that dealt with thoughts and this is what I found;

 "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy- meditate on these things."  St. Paul in Phillipians 4:8

 As I researched further, I began to see that negative thoughts affect us negatively.  And that if people routinely gravited towards negative thoughts throughout thier lives, it could affect even their health.  As an example of constantly thinking negatively,  lets say a person who tends to blame others or things for their predicament in life always seems to never get what they want.  As a result of these negative thoughts, they never take responsibility for much and rarely ask themselves what part they may have played  in the situation.  Let's say a person takes an exam and does poorly.  If this person tends to gravitate towards negative thoughts and blames othesr, they probably won't admit that they didn't study very hard.  Incedentally, this is called an External Locus of Control.

 I remembered the book Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives by Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica.  One of the things he says throughout the book is:

  "Our life depends on the kind of thoughts we nurture. If our thoughts are peaceful, calm, meek and kind, then that is what our life is like.  If our attention is turned to the circumstances in which we live, we are drawn into a whirlpool of thoughts and can have neither peace nor tranquility."

 In addition, much attention is devoted in Orthodoxy towards negative thoughts known as logismoi and how to combat them.

 This whole interest was brought on by another thread and this youtube video with "Acclaimed journalist, author and political activist Barbara Ehrenreich explores the darker side of positive thinking."

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5um8QWWRvo


 I found myself disagreeing with most of her assertions.

 



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Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: Do our thoughts determine our lives?
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2012, 08:39:37 PM »
I think I got you now (let me know). What you are speaking of reminded me of two works, if you're interested in patristic texts. One work by St. John Chrysostom is titled No One Can Harm the Man Who Does Not Harm Himself, and from what I can remember he basically argues that when people revile us or insult us or whatever, we can only be harmed or offended if we allow ourselves to be, that it is within our control how we respond, and thus in that sense we decide how the situation will go, how we will think, how we will react outwardly, etc. Another work that comes to mind by St. John can be found here, which is (I think) the opposite of positive thinking, but does have some similarities with the idea of creating our own reality or determining our lives or however you want to put it.

Offline Shiny

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Re: Do our thoughts determine our lives?
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2012, 08:42:37 PM »
“There is your brother, naked, crying, and you stand there confused over the choice of an attractive floor covering.”

– St. Ambrose of Milan

Offline Cognomen

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Re: Do our thoughts determine our lives?
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2012, 09:27:57 PM »
Heh that's the title of this Orthodox book:
http://www.amazon.com/Our-Thoughts-Determine-Lives-Teachings/dp/1887904190

That's what I assumed this thread was about. 
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Offline augustin717

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Re: Do our thoughts determine our lives?
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2012, 09:58:22 PM »
our lives determine our thoughts. mostly

Offline Ebor

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Re: Do our thoughts determine our lives?
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2012, 10:44:51 PM »
Sometimes they can.
This is a video of Harvey Keitel reciting part of a poem "State of Mind"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R428_ZFKR78&feature=relmfu

It was one of the small things that helped me when I was working towards a couple of goals that I did reach.

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Offline JamesRottnek

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Re: Do our thoughts determine our lives?
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2012, 10:50:39 PM »
I selected "Sometimes," but I would have like an option along the lines of "To some extent."  I mean, it is a bit ludicrous to proclaim that if someone is constantly thinking in negativistic terms, that that will never impact their life; but at the same time, it's ludicrous to proclaim that if someone just thinks good, positive thoughts, that they will somehow have a happy-ever-after kind of life, regardless of anything else.  Paranoia is certainly not going to help you make friends, but rainbows won't make a burglar apologize.
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Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: Do our thoughts determine our lives?
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2012, 01:10:25 AM »
Paranoia is certainly not going to help you make friends, but rainbows won't make a burglar apologize.

I am reminded of the stories in the Sayings of the Desert Fathers in which a monk comes home to his cell to find that he's being robbed and he helps the robbers...  ;D

Offline GabrieltheCelt

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Re: Do our thoughts determine our lives?
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2012, 02:11:18 AM »
our lives determine our thoughts. mostly

Our lives are determined by our choices which are determinded by our thoughts.
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Offline GabrieltheCelt

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Re: Do our thoughts determine our lives?
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2012, 02:22:57 AM »
but at the same time, it's ludicrous to proclaim that if someone just thinks good, positive thoughts, that they will somehow have a happy-ever-after kind of life, regardless of anything else.  Paranoia is certainly not going to help you make friends, but rainbows won't make a burglar apologize.

I think you misunderstand the concept.  What Elder Thaddeus is saying is that by nurturing calm, meek, peaceful thoughts, we will be able to deal with things better than if we nurture the opposite.  How so?  Well, I believe that our thoughts will determine our choices which in turn will determine how we choose to see things.  To use your analogy, thinking of rainbows may not make a burglar apologize, but it may just help you reframe the situation.  Recall what the Buddha said also; if you think negatively all the time, then suffering will follow because you'll tend to see yourself as a victim.  By seeing yourself as a victime, you will become resentful. 
So, I'm not suggesting that bad things won't happen to you, or that the situation won't call for being sad or mad. 
"The Scots-Irish; Brewed in Scotland, bottled in Ireland, uncorked in America."  ~Scots-Irish saying

Offline WeldeMikael

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Re: Do our thoughts determine our lives?
« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2012, 05:26:58 AM »
but at the same time, it's ludicrous to proclaim that if someone just thinks good, positive thoughts, that they will somehow have a happy-ever-after kind of life, regardless of anything else.  Paranoia is certainly not going to help you make friends, but rainbows won't make a burglar apologize.

I think you misunderstand the concept.  What Elder Thaddeus is saying is that by nurturing calm, meek, peaceful thoughts, we will be able to deal with things better than if we nurture the opposite.  How so?  Well, I believe that our thoughts will determine our choices which in turn will determine how we choose to see things.  To use your analogy, thinking of rainbows may not make a burglar apologize, but it may just help you reframe the situation.  Recall what the Buddha said also; if you think negatively all the time, then suffering will follow because you'll tend to see yourself as a victim.  By seeing yourself as a victime, you will become resentful. 
So, I'm not suggesting that bad things won't happen to you, or that the situation won't call for being sad or mad. 


Here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vj3ULugb5A4

Offline JamesRottnek

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Re: Do our thoughts determine our lives?
« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2012, 10:56:34 AM »
but at the same time, it's ludicrous to proclaim that if someone just thinks good, positive thoughts, that they will somehow have a happy-ever-after kind of life, regardless of anything else.  Paranoia is certainly not going to help you make friends, but rainbows won't make a burglar apologize.

I think you misunderstand the concept.  What Elder Thaddeus is saying is that by nurturing calm, meek, peaceful thoughts, we will be able to deal with things better than if we nurture the opposite.  How so?  Well, I believe that our thoughts will determine our choices which in turn will determine how we choose to see things.  To use your analogy, thinking of rainbows may not make a burglar apologize, but it may just help you reframe the situation.  Recall what the Buddha said also; if you think negatively all the time, then suffering will follow because you'll tend to see yourself as a victim.  By seeing yourself as a victime, you will become resentful. 
So, I'm not suggesting that bad things won't happen to you, or that the situation won't call for being sad or mad. 

Actually I don't misunderstand the concept; I was the first person to submit a reply, and as such was not entirely certain where you were going with this (having completely forgotten about the book of the same name), but as I'm on moderation, my post took a while to show up.

I had thought your question was based off of the strand of the self-help movement that thinks if you just wish for something hard enough, it will happen to you.

I would agree, to some extent, with the idea that, "Our life depends on the kind of thoughts we nurture. If our thoughts are peaceful, calm, meek and kind, then that is what our life is like.  If our attention is turned to the circumstances in which we live, we are drawn into a whirlpool of thoughts and can have neither peace nor tranquility." (Though it is possible that this could, in context (or otherwise interpreted), mean that one should not pay due attention to what is going on around them, and thus never solve any problems they have, I would generally agree that if a person has a peaceful, calm mind, then they will probably be a peaceful, calm, at-least-moderately happy person).
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Offline GabrieltheCelt

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Re: Do our thoughts determine our lives?
« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2012, 01:48:22 PM »
but at the same time, it's ludicrous to proclaim that if someone just thinks good, positive thoughts, that they will somehow have a happy-ever-after kind of life, regardless of anything else.  Paranoia is certainly not going to help you make friends, but rainbows won't make a burglar apologize.

I think you misunderstand the concept.  What Elder Thaddeus is saying is that by nurturing calm, meek, peaceful thoughts, we will be able to deal with things better than if we nurture the opposite.  How so?  Well, I believe that our thoughts will determine our choices which in turn will determine how we choose to see things.  To use your analogy, thinking of rainbows may not make a burglar apologize, but it may just help you reframe the situation.  Recall what the Buddha said also; if you think negatively all the time, then suffering will follow because you'll tend to see yourself as a victim.  By seeing yourself as a victime, you will become resentful. 
So, I'm not suggesting that bad things won't happen to you, or that the situation won't call for being sad or mad. 


Here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vj3ULugb5A4

Thanks for that!
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Offline GabrieltheCelt

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Re: Do our thoughts determine our lives?
« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2012, 01:55:57 PM »
but at the same time, it's ludicrous to proclaim that if someone just thinks good, positive thoughts, that they will somehow have a happy-ever-after kind of life, regardless of anything else.  Paranoia is certainly not going to help you make friends, but rainbows won't make a burglar apologize.

I think you misunderstand the concept.  What Elder Thaddeus is saying is that by nurturing calm, meek, peaceful thoughts, we will be able to deal with things better than if we nurture the opposite.  How so?  Well, I believe that our thoughts will determine our choices which in turn will determine how we choose to see things.  To use your analogy, thinking of rainbows may not make a burglar apologize, but it may just help you reframe the situation.  Recall what the Buddha said also; if you think negatively all the time, then suffering will follow because you'll tend to see yourself as a victim.  By seeing yourself as a victime, you will become resentful. 
So, I'm not suggesting that bad things won't happen to you, or that the situation won't call for being sad or mad. 

Actually I don't misunderstand the concept; I was the first person to submit a reply, and as such was not entirely certain where you were going with this (having completely forgotten about the book of the same name), but as I'm on moderation, my post took a while to show up.

I had thought your question was based off of the strand of the self-help movement that thinks if you just wish for something hard enough, it will happen to you.

I would agree, to some extent, with the idea that, "Our life depends on the kind of thoughts we nurture. If our thoughts are peaceful, calm, meek and kind, then that is what our life is like.  If our attention is turned to the circumstances in which we live, we are drawn into a whirlpool of thoughts and can have neither peace nor tranquility." (Though it is possible that this could, in context (or otherwise interpreted), mean that one should not pay due attention to what is going on around them, and thus never solve any problems they have, I would generally agree that if a person has a peaceful, calm mind, then they will probably be a peaceful, calm, at-least-moderately happy person).

 I apologize for seeming like I was insulting your intelligence.  I'm very interested in this subject and everyone's thoughts regarding.  Sometimes, I can push folks the wrong way in trying to understand them better.  But I don't mean to be insulting.  :)
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Offline GabrieltheCelt

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Re: Do our thoughts determine our lives?
« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2012, 03:58:53 PM »
For those of us (myself included) who see an uncomfortable resemblence to the "Self-Help genre", I think you're correct.  I think that if you divorce these teachings from Orthodoxy, you have the humanistic self-help approach which is is great, as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough. 

Thanks to all who've contributed (even those who simply admitted they don't like "Glee").  I'll say more (God willing) a little later. 
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Offline JamesRottnek

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Re: Do our thoughts determine our lives?
« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2012, 04:27:12 PM »
For those of us (myself included) who see an uncomfortable resemblence to the "Self-Help genre", I think you're correct.  I think that if you divorce these teachings from Orthodoxy, you have the humanistic self-help approach which is is great, as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough. 

Thanks to all who've contributed (even those who simply admitted they don't like "Glee").  I'll say more (God willing) a little later. 

For the record, I do not like Glee, but we didn't get to vote for two options.
I know a secret about a former Supreme Court Justice.  Can you guess what it is?

The greatest tragedy in the world is when a cigarette ends.

American Spirits - the eco-friendly cigarette.

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Offline Ebor

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Re: Do our thoughts determine our lives?
« Reply #18 on: August 12, 2012, 08:16:26 PM »
I did not mean to give the idea that the link I posted was in any way a "self-help" sort of thing.  It worked as a reminder.
For many years friends and family urged me to go back to school, but I wasn't sure that I could do the work after so many years away. My thoughts, as it were, determined that I did not try.  Finally, I did and have reached goals that ten years ago I would not have thought possible.

In other parts of our lives, I think that thoughts also can have some effect, not as only thinking happy thoughts, but praticing not giving in to impulses to strike out in anger or resentment or contempt. To try and think of others that have challenged one as human rather than lesser creatures.

Ebor
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The Katana of Reasoned Discussion

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