thoughts like a river

There’s been quite a bit of discussion lately on my blog and all my social media sites about belief and unbelief, Christianity and Atheism. I’ve enjoyed it.

One of the things I’ve noticed and have mentioned it to a couple of people today is the obviously erroneous idea that our thoughts must be static. I do remember when it was important to me that my beliefs never change. However, I now see the importance of allowing my thoughts to change and as a result, my beliefs.

This is how I describe it: I see thoughts like a river going through our minds. Dogmatism would like to freeze these thoughts or even stagnate them in the mind. The river of thoughts and beliefs is moving and changing. Let it be so. I see “my” thoughts and beliefs as a part of a gigantic flowing river that we all share.

So the anxiety we feel when our thoughts and beliefs are under pressure to change is our attempt to damn up the river, contain it, control it and possess it. Rather, let the thoughts flow through the mind without trying to hang on to them. One day you might think this. Next day you might think that. But that’s okay.

It’s much like meditation. Let the thoughts flow through you and you will begin noticing a serenity in your mind and body. I admit it is frightening at first as we let go of treasured beliefs. But eventually it comes as naturally as inhaling and exhaling. Your mind is freshened daily and is actually more receptive to Truth.

Have you seen my new Sophia “metamorphosis”?

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  • Yes.
    After years in a church and in music ministry I was really going through the motions.
    I read some books by some prominent atheist authors as a change of pace and also because my faith needed something radical.
    I had been afraid to read them for a while… But it was one of the best things to ever happen for my faith / unfaith …
    I really love what you wrote here. It is exactly where I am.
    I’m really grateful I found your blog.
    Good stuff man.

  • thanks mike. glad you found us 🙂

  • Yes, yes, yes!

  • Seth

    Nice observation! If everything in our mind is subject to change then so are our most treasured beliefs!

    The Buddhist tradition dictates that the human mind is like a drunken monkey stung by a bee frantically swinging from branch to branch. The sooner we realize the nature of the human mind, the sooner we will figure out peace with ourselves and peace with others.

  • The creators of the creeds roll in their frozen doctrinal graves screaming in agony at your unholy words. But their curses also dissolve with your exhale.

    Well said, David

  • ttm

    Wow. Your post coincides with my reading of a book about meditation, “Turning the Mind Into an Ally” by Sakyong Mipham, and as the word “fluvial” has been swirling in the eddies of my mind all day. I love it when the universe delivers conversations/ideas/emotions/moments/people/art at the precise moment when I am most open to them, and everything just flows as one down a meandering river with strong currents and pockets of stillness. 🙂

  • Pauline MacDonald

    A salt shaker can’t work until it is shaken. That’s the analogy to faith for me. Unless you shake it up nothing of worth comes out.
    There’s also the idea that if something cannot withstand scrutiny then it is something that should not be believed in the first place.

  • Syl

    The river reminds me of your Z theory imagery – nice fit, right in synch, but a slightly different perspective – an evolving perspective.

  • Gary

    I like this David. I agree that our beliefs should be fluid. Thus far my belief in the Christ as the means of Grace has remained static. But my understanding of virtually every other aspect of my faith (including the implications of the cross) has changed dramatically over the years. Additionally I no longer treat doubt as my enemy.

    Thanks for all you bring to my journey.

  • Laurie

    So…if belief melds into the transient and ephemeral, how would one move closer to Truth? How would you define Truth?

    Thanks….food for thought

  • Jacquie

    David, I’m relieved to realize fluidity of faith is an ok experience. Some days I am without faith in an almost adamant way and other days my faith is rekindled, ever so slightly. It seems this is an experience for many….it feels good not to be alone.

    Thankful for your words.

  • This got me thinking of another analogy. We’re on a journey – let’s say, climbing higher as we walk through some hills. At any point we have an incomplete view, because we see things from a particular standpoint. When we climb to another place, we don’t just see some things differently, but our view of everything changes because we are seeing it all from a new perspective.

  • Wow, Godfrey that is great – thanks!

    NP: In some of my former circles, the second-worst curse was “relativism” (only “unitarianism” was worse). So, is the unchanging nature of God just more dogma that we have been force-fed all along? This is very different from unchanging beliefs – we are certainly free to believe whatever we choose. Is it reasonable to think that God is different today than yesterday?

    To put this another way, did the writers of The Bible get it right and the problem all along has been mankind’s inability to interpret it correctly? Therefore as we continue to fine tune our beliefs (enduring the accusation of “relativism”) are we really just approaching the original truth of the unchanging God? The alternative is that God is a moving target, and our challenge is to continue to listen and seek throughout life.

    For me. definitely one of your better “thinking” posts.

  • Rhonda Sayers

    Great post NP. Thanks for all of the encouragement and direction that you have given me…the journey does not seem so scary and lonely now…I have found courage and peace to continue walking my path.
    @ Godfrey, great analogy. I am going to post on my fb (crediting you).