What most people have been taught to think is far from what right thinking really means. Largely the general idea is confined to knowing and following what is “right” and what is “wrong” to do in life by conforming to a standard; mostly set by ideas of morality and religious dogma and beliefs. For some people, it is about doing actions that are in conformance to laws, rules, regulations and directions set by society and authority.
Many others conveniently define right thinking so much as to only suit their own preferences, expectations and attachments. They will readily accept something if it seems to profit them and reject anything else as wrong. All these notions of right thinking are just one form or another of merely seeking conformity to a set of ideas and beliefs that one is conditioned to. Verily seeking conformity is not the process of right thinking.
The problem is, that right from our childhood we have been fed by our family and peers with various ideas, beliefs and notions about our identity, life, world and about how to relate with others and also about what is right and what is wrong without learning the discipline of validating them through independent observation, reasoning and experience.
Almost two decades ago, as a student of Advaita (a Hindu wisdom tradition), my first spiritual disciplines were to cultivate intellectual discernment and emotional detachment through the processes of earnest and mindful listening, independent and objective reflection (that is supported by right means of knowledge and reasoning) and personal exploration and observation in experience. Learning to independently digest information, frame doubts and seek clarity through enquiry are themselves spiritual practices in this tradition. The process shed the burden to conform and cling on to personal beliefs and biases.
Generally people are not accustomed to notice the influence of various degrees of personal attachments, expectations and prejudices when forming an opinion. As we grow up, we continue to collect ideas and ideals from our society – our friends, teachers, media, superiors and authorities. We not only adopt various rules and regulations but also come to believe that everyone else should live life similarly. All these go into our memory and form our individual belief system that further automates our thinking.
Individual beliefs and conditionings filter our perception of every experience and dictate the nature of emotions and actions. You can achieve breakthrough from being a mere puppet to old mental conditionings the moment you start making conscious effort simply to notice your thoughts and emotions. If you embrace a new openness and sincerity to understand things comprehensively and compassionately, then you will begin to think independent of these old mental conditionings.
Rakesh Nair (Yogi Rakesh) is a Vedic life mentor and teacher. A lifelong practitioner of Vedic philosophy and yoga, he trained for many years in the authentic Vedic tradition, following the lineage of Advaita teachers. He holds a Masters in Sanskrit studies, apart from a degree in Computer Science majoring in Software Engineering. He is the founder of yogirakesh.com. He specialises in connecting ancient Vedic knowledge to the needs of modern life. He currently teaches and mentors people through online classes.