Form and content – two levels of change
Thinking and Thoughts
Thinking is a capacity, a process, a kind of activity. Thoughts are the content of thinking, the ideas that get formed by thinking. They fall out of the process of thinking as separable mental bits, and don’t like to change. Said somewhat cryptically but exactly: thoughts are what they are because they are not something else. The thought “4” is not the thought “telephone”, they are experienced directly as distinct from each other by virtue of their content. This illuminates something which is obvious when pointed out: the nature of a thought is to be different. Thoughts embody difference. The difference is not incidental to the thought, but constitutes its very nature. Whatever a thought is, it is by virtue of this difference. This may seem trivial or obvious, but the importance of this triviality is often overlooked and bears deeper scrutiny, as it forms a key piece of the puzzle for anyone interested in working with change in a wise manner. It indicates that thoughts don’t change by themselves, but need thinking to change; they are not intrinsically malleable like the process of thinking itself.
A perfect analogy for this has been long known in alchemy, where thoughts are to thinking as a precipitate is to its solution. Thoughts precipitate like crystals out of the process of thinking, which is more fluid and flexible. This general relationship between lower and higher orders is a leitmotif in alchemy, the central goal of which is exploration and implementation of this relation in technically wise ways. In alchemy this is spoken of in terms of the Above and Below, or Heaven and Earth.
So: thoughts are a lower order expression of thinking, a bearing out, a fulfillment, a drawing forth, a settling, even a dying of thinking. Thinking is a higher order activity at work in all thoughts, their source, context, womb, genesis, and potential. Thoughts actualize thinking; thinking potentializes thoughts.