Happy New Year. May 2016 be fantastic, bursting with creativity, kindness, care and concern and love. Of course, love.
Here is a thought to begin your year: Think freely, be who you are, suffer less.
We don’t think to be reassured, though it is reassuring. And we don’t think to escape from the external world, though it provides a refreshing breath-catching shelter in the mind/world continuum, a contextual space that encourages us to take it up a notch.
We think to be challenged, to separate ourselves from worrisome and problematic foundational habits of mind that don’t support who we are. And we think to expand the reach and utility of our contribution to our fellow humans and to the sum total of the civilized enterprise for improving the quality of life for all of us.
Our cognition, a mechanism of natural, historical and linguistic proportion, is the source of our inventive capacity to communicate significance, to choose among alternatives and to oversee our immediacy. Much of it is automatic, a stored potential in our living system. But the part that is so rewarding goes beyond the automatic and beyond the fixed determination with which we ordinarily think.
Indeed, wielding this cognitive mechanism—thinking freely—is more than the means to satisfy our aesthetical and ethical sensibilities, although it is that. It is the means to be in possession of ourselves, to invent and reinvent, i.e., to set and reset, progressively who we are.
Arnold Siegel is the founder of Autonomy and Life and the leader of its Retreat Workshops and Advanced Classes.