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Are there thoughts that can "possess" people and cause them to create the change they desire to happen in the world?
Among the many podcast episodes of late that hadn’t received it’s own substack article was one called The Book. (← Link to it if you want to catch up)
This was the first public reference to something only a few close family and friends knew about before it. Namely, that I am (and have been for a number of months now) in the process of writing a book.
Now, you may think it must have something to do with Jiu-Jitsu, or the pandemic, or COVID, or Canada, or an autobiography encompassing all of the above. Because that would be the likely (and probably respectable) thing to do.
Nope. Instead, I’m writing a 27 chapter book that’s broken into 3 major portions, none of which I’m an expert in. And they are:
You know, the little things…
You may wonder a) why I’d be writing on such massive and paradigm shaping topics, and b) what that has to do with this substack at all.
Well, the answer to both of those questions is in fact directly related to the above.
In a previous episode with 2 time (soon to be 3) guest of the show — Caylan Ford —, a fascinating sidebar burst forth from the conversation that was centered around totalitarianism. (Excerpt below from Ep. #76 Totalizing Politics)
This was, firstly, an unexpected turn to the topic but secondly, absolutely intriguing to me.
The idea that a thought can be or exist autonomously and separate from the humans that will eventually bring it’s intentions into physical fruition was an entirely new dimension to a school of thought that I’d been exploring for a long time.
That school of thought is what traditionally Rene Descartes coined Dualism, or Substance Dualism. In short, Dualism suggested that the “self” is not a single being, but an inextricable harmony between mind and body. And though they (broadly speaking) cannot be separated, they exist as utterly separate while entirely dependent upon each other.
I had been diving into many different takes and version of this thesis (as well as forming my own takes with it) for years by this point. To have Caylan add this concept she borrowed from Dostoyevsky, things just clicked in an oddly serendipitous way.
Without going too deeply into what I spend most of 2 chapters extrapolating on in the book, I see the “consciousness” side of the Dualistic construct as the “mind” and as something that is, in fact, exogenous to the human body. That is to say, consciousness (which science itself continues to struggle to quantify let alone explain), originates from outside of the body yet projects itself through it.
It’s a confusing and grandiose proposition. But, once the argument is made for it, something like “thought possession” lands not only differently, but poignantly.
I had already presumed the origins of consciousness to be outside of the body, so it became enlightening to consider that a similar force could exist in the same way with the intention of projecting itself through humans who were capable of bringing it’s goals into physical fruition in our reality.
Like a biblical demon possessing a viable host, thoughts themselves could use humans in a similar way!
Thoughts, with their own gravity and trajectory, like what drove Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pot could have infested, or infected their minds when they became suitable to bring it’s intentions into the world.
We Are The Instruments
Richard Dawkins, famed atheist and evolutionary biologist, coined the term “Meme” in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene. It was, to put it in a nutshell, the concept of a mind virus. Similar to how genes shape biology, memes could shape culture and society.
But, meme theory as a sociological motivator doesn’t hold the same autonomous intention that thought possession does. Because you see, a meme is usually considered to originate from a person or people who try to sow it into a culture. The thought possession hypothesis would take it one step deeper and argue that the origin of the thought that people wanted to sow into society started from this unembodied, conscious force.
Now, if this is true, and where ever thoughts come from is home to all of the great and powerful timeless thoughts that move civilizations through history, why do they need to possess us at all? What is the point of foisting their intentions on humans in the first place?
That’s a question that I couldn’t possibly know the answer to for certain, but I’ll offer in insight from my friend David Parker.
He explained to me, one night around a fire, his concept regarding “Imago Dei”, or the image of God. He asked
“What is it that makes us in the image of God? Likely not because we look just like him. Who is God? He’s the creator. And this is what separates humans from the animals. We have the ability as creators to utterly change our reality around us and fashion an idea into the corporeal world.”
That is why, I believe, if thoughts have their own conscious objectives and ambitions, they work to project them through people. It’s the only way they can affect the physical world. And that, it would seem, is very important to them.
Know Thy Self
Socrates famously stated the above quote.
It’s important to know your own thoughts, and the power that they have to create entire realities in the world around us. Thoughts like Communism or Socialism or even corrupt Capitalism are powerful players in the arena of thoughts that possess people.
But, the good news is, I believe, we can also be possessed by good thoughts that can lead to all of the noble and laudable aspects of humanity that we should all aspire to. And to come full circle, I truly believe that’s what has “possessed” me to write about these sorts of things in this book.
Never in my life did I ever have the intention of becoming an author, but the drive behind putting these thoughts to paper is something I can only describe as a spontaneous obsession.
And I hope, for my part, that good will come of it when it finally completes it’s effort to create itself in a way for all of you to see.
~ Drew Weatherhead
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Listen to the full episode below:
The Social Disorder Podcast: Powerful Thoughts