“A man who does not cultivate the habits of thinking misses the greatest pleasure of life”. Thomas Alva Edison
“Few people think two or three times a year. I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week”. George Bernard Shaw
I’ll be doomed if I say that many of us don’t think. Yes, all of us think but what matters is what do we think? Perhaps many of us confuse thinking with dreaming. I personally believe that in this frenzied materialistic world where time means money, many just don’t have the time to pause and ‘Think’. A person sitting at his desk and staring out of the window would never assume to be working. No! Thinking is not equated with work. Yet, had Newton under his tree or Archimedes in his bathtub bought into that prejudice, some natural laws would still be up in the air, or buried under an immovable rock. Many great works and writing would never have been penned.
The Bible places supreme value in the thought of life. Solomon wrote, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he,” Jesus asserted that sin’s gravity lay in the idea itself, not just the act. The followers of Christ must demonstrate to the word what it is not just to think, but to think justly. But how does one manage this in a culture where progress is determined by pace and defined by quantity? What is even more destructive is that the greatest demand comes from neither speed nor quantity, but rather from the assumptions that silence is inimical to life. In effect, the mind is denied the privilege of living with itself with and even briefly, and is crowd with outside impulses to cope with aloneness. Perhaps most of one’s life is one prolonged effort to prevent thinking.
T.S. Elliot observed.
“Where is the life we have lost in the living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in the knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in the information?
The cycles of heaven in twenty centuries. Bring us farther from God and nearer to dust”.
Is there a remedy?
Ravi Zacharias (President of RZIM and one of the greatest thinker of our generation) presents three simple suggestions. May it challenge your mind and stir your heart and prevent the dying art of thinking in our society.
1. STUDY GOD’S WORD
Nothing ranks higher for mental discipline than a planned and systematic study of God’s word, from whence life’s parameters and values are planted in the mind. Paul, who loved his work and parchments, affirmed the priority of scripture. “Do not go beyond what is written” promises that God’s statutes keep us from being double minded.
2. READ GREAT BOOKS
The English-speaking world is endowed with a wealth of books. But much contemporary literature comes perilously close to a promiscuous religion with an appeal for the “feel better” syndrome, rather than the impetus to ‘go deeper’. Read authors who stretch and introduce you to other writings as well. Great writers stimulate your capacity to thing beyond their ideas, spawning fresh insights and extensions of your own. Good reading in indispensable to impartation of truth. An expenditure of words without the income of ideas leads to conceptual bankruptcy.
3. CHALLENGE THE MIND
The church as a whole and the pulpit in particular must challenge the mind of this generation, else we betray our trust. The average young person today actually surrenders the intellect to the world, presuming Christianity to be bereft of it. Many a pulpit has succumbed to the lie that anything intellectual cannot be spiritual or exciting. We do a de-service to our youth by not crediting them with the capacity to think. We cannot leave them uncorrected. The French philosopher Rene Descartes is best known for his dictum, “I think, therefore I am”. After all, it is not that I think, therefore I am but rather the Great I am has asked us to think, and therefore, we must. And we must serve him with all our minds.
BA 1, Fazl Ali College, MKG