Three Meanings of Thought

 

The word thought can refer to at least three things:

(a) It’s commonly used to refer to a verbal and conscious thought. If there is a story such as “I thought that” it seems intentional, and if not, it may seem unintentional.

(b) Thoughts can also be in the form of images. There is a sound, and then an image of a bird to match the sound. This seems to often happen without much conscious awareness, although the images can have a strong effect on experience.

(c) Finally, thoughts can refer to the whole world of experience they create, especially when they are taken as true. Thoughts create the most basic boundaries (I, other, world, object, being) and the most basic interpretations and labels. They filter perception, trigger emotions, and create even basic experiences such as hunger and pain. Thoughts create a whole world – rich and full bodied, and it may appear unquestionably real.

When I use the word thought here, it’s often in the third, more inclusive meaning.

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