Kierkegaard, Orthodoxy, and Thoughts

The present age is an age of reflection. Kierkegaard believes this to be an evil. Not that reflection in itself is such, but the kind of reflection that is coupled with inactivity is. He describes it as being in an enclosed room, where your own breathing becomes toxic to you without ventilation. I think this is right. I see so many around me being sucked into this self destroying cycle, all based around thoughts. They just think too damn much about what’s going on. They fall into despair, and start thinking some more. They think so much but they don’t do a damn thing. It’s something I’m guilty of as well, something I think I’m slowly crawling my way out of. I hope my pursuing a philosophy degree is an instantiation of that desire to break free.

In Orthodoxy, we are told that our thoughts are not what we are. The things we have in our heads from day to day are not that important really. We blame sin on thoughts. We say, ‘I think this way, therefore it must be what I am.’ This is not the case. What you think is not what you are. This is something that is shocking at first but it is quite true if enough thought is given to it. All the things that browse through my head throughout the day do not make me what I am. My identity is found in Christ in the end, not in my mind. These thoughts actually arise from a very shallow place of consciousness. Our true self lies in the heart with the Lord, the technical term being Nous. In the silence of our hearts is where we find Christ and our true selves. Notice here the distinction: the heart is silent, the mind is noisy, busy. Our thoughts tend to run through us at a thousand miles an hour with no discretion what so ever. Thoughts just pop in there, and we wonder ‘where did that come from?’. We are not to let that disturb us, we are to try and control our thoughts as much as we can but ignore these strange ones when they come. Only with this realization do we break free from our own minds.

I believe Kierkegaard had sight of this when he wrote ‘The Present Age’. He saw that people were too wrapped up in their own minds, their own thoughts. They never did, they only thought things. They didn’t take risks, they didn’t do much worth doing, only thought, critiqued, insulted, and ridiculed. They were too wrapped up in themselves. They could not discover themselves in Christ, to escape the madness of their own thoughts. They instead wallowed in it, made it a home for themselves. Thus, it became a poison for them, and no one seemed to notice.

I think this connection between Kierkegaard and Orthodoxy is alive, and I hope to flesh it out more. In the same way Kierkegaard was concerned with people’s thoughts, Orthodoxy is concerned as well. They both preach that thoughts, only thoughts, wrapped up in themselves only bring destruction. We can be sure that there is something to this thought thing.

~ by Barky on June 3, 2010.

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