A Penny for Your Thoughts

There is an old saying, “A penny for your thoughts,” which was usually uttered to somebody who was in deep contemplation.  It might be “a hundred dollars for your thoughts” today.  Typically, our thoughts are kept to ourselves since they are not meant for public scrutiny.  Some thoughts may be so mysterious, provocative, and controversial that we would not reveal these thoughts for anything less than a million dollars.

I never had significant control over my thoughts.  I can remember when I wanted to beat others up.  I can remember when I wanted to have sex with beautiful women that I saw.  I can remember when my thoughts were outrageous, but fortunately I never acted on many of my thoughts.  I felt that I was better than others who lost control and committed murders, rapes, assaults, burglaries, and other deranged acts.  However, I really was not better than anybody else, because I had given in to deranged thoughts.

In the Beatitudes found in Chapter 5 of Matthew, Jesus emphasized that we must have clean thoughts.  I always believed that if I believed in God and did not, in fact, commit adultery or other bad acts, I was a good person, who would be eligible for God’s kingdom.  But Jesus said that lusting for a woman is committing adultery in your heart.  This goes beyond being saved by believing in Jesus as the sacrificial lamb for our sins.  This goes beyond being saved by doing good deeds during our lives.  It reaches into a completely new zone where only a small percentage will tread.  Jesus instructed us in Matthew 7:14 that only a few of us will find this narrow path to Heaven.  Only those few with clean thoughts will pass through the gate.

I would guess that all of us have allowed our emotions to invade our thoughts.  We all have been angry at some point during our lives.  I know that I have been, especially when I have to scream “representative” a hundred times in order to talk to a person on the phone.  But Jesus said that anger could place us in jeopardy of not reaching the kingdom.  Jesus appears to be telling us that our thoughts will be our primary activity after we die.  Our thoughts may be the pathway to everything that happens to us from our death through eternity.

So, let’s stop and think about what Jesus may have been trying to say.  We know that when we die, we will either be thinking or not thinking.  Jesus appears to be saying that all of us will continue thinking whether we believe in God or not.  Those of us who are thinking bad thoughts will be judged accordingly.  Probably there will be just a few of us who will be thinking good thoughts, and these will have a better chance to pass through Heaven’s gates.

It actually makes sense if you think about it.  If you are still thinking at death, your thoughts will be what take you in whichever path you follow.  If your thoughts are clean, then you will take the high road; but if your thinking is faulty, then you will be on the low road.  And the scary thing is that your good thoughts could turn into bad thoughts at any time during the process.  By linking and unifying with God, you will have the best chance to stay on the right path.

How Much Do We Know?

With all the improvements in science and scientific research and space exploration, how much do we know… perhaps 10% of what is in our universe?  With the large telescopes on earth and in space, how much do we see… perhaps another 10% of our universe?

Actually, we know less than 1% of what is in our universe and probably much less than 1%.  The visible universe is less than 4% of what is included in the universe and probably much less than 4%, especially if the universe is an ellipse and we can only view it to its horizon.  And even if the visible universe is 4%, we know just a fraction of what is in that visible universe.

So, how much do we know?  Not much at all.  We don’t know much about dark matter and don’t know anything about dark energy.  In fact, we can say with certainty:  we are pretty much in the dark.

We don’t even know that much about what is right in front of us.  The invisible quantum world is right next to us, but we have only scratched its surface.  There are unexplored deep oceans.  There still are many mysteries deep inside the earth’s core.

We, humans, think very highly of ourselves, but actually we are a miserable lot.  We can’t take care of our environment.  We are responsible for a current mass extinction that may end up being worse than the Permian extinction.  Our emotions make us more violent and unpredictable than any other animals.

We don’t even know much about ourselves and why we exist.  Why do we think about our existence?  If we didn’t have that nagging awareness, we could be like all the other animals, living through basic instincts without emotional interplay.  But our consciousness and consciences make us different from other animals… and not necessarily different better.  We murder based on hate, greed, sex, desire, jealousy, and anger.  No other animals do that.  We want gold, silver, diamonds, and currency.  Other animals don’t care about these things.  We want luxury automobiles and huge homes with the best furniture.  Other animals could care less.

So, why are we different and what is our purpose?  Well, logically there must be a reason for us to have free will and make choices based on our unique consciousness and consciences.  And the only reason that makes sense is that we are being tested.  Why else would we be able to make choices?  Life with free will would be quite absurd without consequences for our choices.  Existentialism rules our world.

Homo sapiens could have been like any other animal with no awareness or conscience, but we were given free will that no other animals have.  Why?  It has to be because something or somebody will examine these decisions that we have made.  And, of course, there will be consequences.  You cannot judge an animal that acts based on inherent instincts, but you can provide punishment for bad choices made by Homo sapiens.

So, how much do we know about a future judgment?  My guess is that we know less than 1% and probably substantially less than 1%.

Why Do You Think You Are a Good Person?

Whether you are a religious person or not, most people like to think that they are a good person.  There are exceptions, most of whom populate the prison system.  But as a general rule, we like to consider ourselves as basically good.

But why do you think you are a good person?  Is it because you compare yourself with your peers and you come out looking pretty good?  Or is it because your good traits outweigh your bad traits?  Or is it just because you want to be a good person?

Late in 2014, I started a “Virtues” chart on myself.  I included topics like: Bible, reading, writing, thinking, meditating, praying, no-anger, truth telling, kindness, humility, patience, love, service, and joy.  I gave myself one point for doing something each day that fulfilled any of these categories.  The first week, I was a disaster.  The second week, I moved up a little, but it took me over a month to get out of the single digits.  I had to focus on doing these things or I failed to address them.

I started thinking:  Gee, I thought I was a pretty good person until I evaluated my actual performance.  The truth is that we all think more of ourselves than we probably should.  We have a tendency to believe that we are good people since we haven’t robbed or killed anybody recently.  The problem is that we all have a tendency to rock along with daily activities, distracted from accomplishing anything outside your work and family zones.

For example, you can lose your patience and temper at work or home without too much difficulty.  But you are so busy trying to complete your assignments at work or to run your kids from school to soccer practice, you forget that you were not as good a person as you thought.

I truly believed that I was a really great truth teller.  But when I tested myself, allowing a point only if I told the truth all day long, I failed miserably.  Without this test, we are like golfers who take “mulligans” and don’t count “wiffs” as strokes.  We think that we tell the truth because most of the time we do not lie.  But those “white lies” or stretching the truth to avoid hurting somebody’s feelings are still lies.

Another one was “no anger.”  I rarely got to check this one.  I had no idea how angry I was since I was only angry a few minutes out of a long day.  I thought I was right on target: a good person who did not get angry.  However, those short bursts of anger were sufficient to keep me from getting any points.

The last category was “joy” which is significantly more than being “happy.”  I have not achieved this goal yet.  You should know it when you reach joy, but there are just too many things in life that interfere with that ultimate connection.  I came closest when I was content with my daily activities and was turning in after a long day.  But then my wife would ask me something like, “Did you take the garbage out?” or “Did you know Johnnie got a ‘D” today?”  But there is no joy in Mudville – our mighty egos have struck out.

So, do you still think you are a good person?