Thought Form

This is my first political comment. When I started this i thought how one of the areas I might want to get into would be politics, or rather punditry. Punditry has long been one of my fantasy careers, along with astronomer, architect, archaeologist, sorceress, political operative (if they ever have a reality tv show for running a presidential campaign, I’d sign up), and rabbi.

Apparently, I’m not alone in fantasizing having my own political column. On a recent radio show about the media the panel mentioned how editors are constantly receiving applications for columnist.

So, since I have about 5 times as many writing projects in my head as I have time to do, I probably will keep my political observations down to an occasional commentary right here.

This first one is odd, in that I might call it an esoteric political commentary (how many of those have you seen in The New York Times?). It was occasioned by a discussion on Exoteric-L, my favorite hangout listserve. Exo, as we call it, was started by refugees from a SERIOUS Tarot discussion group, where we tended to get in trouble for not staying on topic.

In the way of such things, Exo has gotten political lately.  Recently, my friend Zoe Matoff referred to the United States as  a “thought form.”

At first I thought of a flippant reply.  Then I thought of simply asking what thought form she thought the U.S. represented.  From that came a long reply, which I give below, with some editing.

What is the United States a thought form of?

Is The United States a collective form of all its inhabitants, or just some?

It often strikes me that conservatives tend to win because they believe that the United States belongs to them, they own the thought form. When Clinton got elected part of the uproar was an affront to what had come to seem a natural law. Liberals tend to feel alienated, tend at a subconscious level to agree that they are on the outside, and so they somehow expect to lose.  They do not believe that they own the thought form.
On the other hand, the United States has enjoyed a special status in much of the world by promoting the idea that it is a (or maybe the) thought form of Liberty.

Some continue to defend whatever the U.S. does primarily on this basis. This is the doctrine of American “exceptionalism”–when we invade countries we do so for good and noble purposes. We do good by definition, not evidence.

Others are outraged that the U.S. seemingly has betrayed the ideal that supposedly produced it.  As the thought form of Liberty, the United States should be better than the rest of the world.

Personally, I believe that the United States was built on 3 pillars, of which the most prominent is undercut by the other two, but also hides the other two.

That prominent one is personal liberty and the chance for individual people to create their own destiny. The other two are slavery and genocide (whether deliberate or de facto). To some extent, the first is a thought form while the other two are economic and political realities. For many, the thought form has the most power.

My rabbi, Jonathan Kligler of the Woodstock Jewish Congregation, once suggested to me that sometimes a document states an ideal that is actually beyond the reality of its people, even the person or people stating it. But then the ideal takes on its own power and people strive to make it real.  This is part of what we mean by a thought form.

He gave as an example the Declaration of Independence. Its principal author, Thomas Jefferson, certainly did not live up to the statement “All men are created equal.” Clearly, he did not actually believe this.  If he did, owning other human beings would have been impossible, not simply uncomfortable.

And yet, once the statement had been made it became something that the country has tried, intermittently, to strive towards. Thought forms can have that kind of power.  To a large extent, the Civil Rights movement gained its moral authority from the thought form created by “All men are created equal.”

But there is a shadow side to such forms. People come to believe that it is reality, and therefore any negative facts are either trivial, or do not even exist.

They believe that America and liberty and virtue are all the same thing, and anything that America does must be by definition good and noble and idealistic. Instead of striving to make the thought form real we assume it already is.  A lot of terrible things can happen when a thought form displaces reality.

Published in: on July 19, 2006 at 2:23 pm  Comments (7)  

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  1. Maybe the old Hungarian proverb that says “The doubter is wise, the believer is happy” can be recast as “Those who understand their thought forms as fundamentally true have the power of ownership.”

  2. In that case can we change our thought forms and change what happens to us in the world?

    How fulfilling are our self-fulfilling prophecies? 

    I suspect thought forms gather strength by the number of people who sign on to them.

  3. I believe whatever thought form has the most powerful emotional intent behind it has the best chance of becoming actualized in reality. I believe this works for a country as well as for an individual.

    I had an interesting, if not unsettling, experience driving in my car one day.

    I was thinking about a good friend of mine & how a mutual friend of ours was making upsetting comments to her. My friends significant other only got annoyed with her & said nothing to other person.

    As I was driving, without really realizing it, I was putting a lot of emotional energy into thinking about how unappropriate the other persons behavoir was & how I may have to intervene on my friends behave.

    Suddenly I felt a sort of popping sensation. It suprised me as I realized that I had put so much emotional energy into my thoughts that the thought form actually had a certain felt presence.

    Nothing happened to this other person that I was thinking so strongly about (which, by the way, had nothing to do with hurting that person in any way) as a reasult of my thoughts, at least as far as I know.

    But it left me with the question; what really happened to that thought form? Did it actualize in some other plane? Did it impress a need for different behavior on the person the thoughts where about?

    I don’t know, but I do know that I am now more careful about how much energy I consciously put into my thoughts & that focusing intently on something with emotional intensity defineately creates & probably more than we are consiously ever aware of.

  4. The idea of thought forms (thought form of thought forms?) is interesting and potentially dangerous. Not just dangerous in the usual way we think–that our thoughts can become creatures–but also dangerous to our egos, that we can inflate ourselves with the belief that our thought forms can take over. maybe sometimes they can take on objective reality, but a great deal of the time they stay inside our minds–wherever that may be!
    Does the form with the most energy in society take over? I don’t know. It does seem that the people now who are obsessed by religious correctness have great power, while those who want openness are kind of tired.
    Thanks, Riverhawk, for your, well, thoughts.

  5. Thank You

  6. There is a legend that before they wrote the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson, Franklin, et. al, Masons all, conducted a magical ritual to empower the Goddess Columbia, who would be the spirit/thought-form of the new country.

    I totally forget where I heard this. I want to say Robert Anton Wilson, though.

  7. […] beliefs have been bounded and constrained by the beliefs of others.   Thought forms gather strength by the number of people who sign on to them, as Rachel Pollack reminds […]


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