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Thoughts! What are you, O thoughts!

Thoughts. What are you, O thoughts? The beginnings and endings. The journeys and destinations. The highs and lows. The transcendence of pleasures and pain's mighty blows. Are you these or are you more? What depths hide your origins? What drives you to death on abandoned shores? You are gardens whose beauty confounds us. You are the deserts where hope is just lore. Thoughts. What are you, O thoughts?

Our thinking defines us. We are driven by it and we stop in our tracks when it knocks on our door. But is it really our thinking or is it something else? 

Perhaps it is our emotions. How strong they are? How lively, vigorous and energetic. When anger burns in our veins, thoughts are in a torrent, all thrown here and there, helpless at the mercy of a ferocious beast. Or when love drives us mad, where are these thoughts? Why don't they turn this madness around? Why don't they argue on their behalf to the stubborn barbarian horde that destroys the order and magnificence of their peaceful, calm cities? 

But what are emotions? Are they from nothingness or have they any origins? Yes. Thoughts. They cower fearfully under the mighty will of these uncouth emotions. They lock themselves in their homes, hiding from the wrath of a heathen horde prowling around. And then the barbarian chief arrives and their curiosity drives them to the windows where they look fearfully at his arrival. And then they laugh. A thought. Another thought driving all these barbaric emotions.

But you don't believe me, do you? You say perhaps it is our actions. They are the prime movers of this cause ad infinitum. They are physical, evident, seen. They are the big giant creatures, like Goliath. So powerful. So mighty. How they shape the world. How they till and plow it. How they build the mighty structures of brick and belief that can endure the blows of a storm that is called time.

But look closely. Do you see a chord? No. A chain! In the neck of these creatures. And look. Who is holding the chain? I can't suppress my laughter at your folly. These giant brutes of action. They are nothing. They are just beasts in the hands of a David. And who is this David? Go. Ask him. He is a thought. A clever, tricky, laughing thought. 

But you look at me and say. No, it is something else. It is perhaps something around us that drives us. What are we, after all, if not the product of our surroundings? We are a plant grown from a seed. If not for the seed, we are, but nothing. And what does a seed needs? It needs nourishment and a suitable environment. It needs care to grow strong. We are defined by our environment. You say this with full conviction and triumphantly look at me. 

And I look at your carefully built house of cards and say. What is this seed? What is this environment? What is nourishment and life? It is, but a thought. And just like that, your house comes down around you to the ground while you look helplessly.

But what about pain and pleasure. Don't they define our boundaries and in doing so define us? Pain like a guardian standing at the boundary of a territory. Always hindering us, stopping us, making us turn tail. And Pleasure. That beautiful looking benevolent (or perhaps evil) seductress. Showing us one thing and catching us in another. How pleasure's pied piper weaves a tune around us and we turn in circles, thinking, I am going somewhere. So it seems then it is pleasure and pain that defines us.

But wait. I hear laughter somewhere. A clever, cunning, maniac laughter. Do you know where it is coming from? Do you? I think you know but you don't want to admit that somewhere behind these curtains of your folly, some thought is clothing a pain into pleasure and pleasure into pain. But you don't want to look at that. Do you? You want to remain in your labyrinth of ignorance where pleasure and pain can play a game of hide and seek with you. And you? You are happy with this game. 

But not everyone is happy. There are some who want to change the order. They want to steer the ship of their existence themselves without giving free rein to the sea of thoughts. Some succeed and we call them men with self-control. Some.... do not. We call them maniacs sometimes. Sometimes fools. Sometimes something else. 

But for most of us there is no such thing as thinking. There are others who think for us. They shape thoughts, design them and then package them to us in beautiful words and images. And we? We mindlessly consume these thoughts without ever thinking why? Why are these thought shapers, these pied pipers so generous and philanthropic? But already I see you ignoring this reality. You don't want to think about it. You don't want to think. How peaceful is the land of no thought? You want to remain there busy with your life without ever thinking

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