On Thoughts and Actions

Although we accept that there is an intimate connection between thoughts and actions, do we really understand how intimate that relationship is?

We know pretty much what actions are. They are tangible, and we can see them. They exist here in the corporeal level. We can be held responsible for them, and we can even be put in jail if they run contrary to what society considers allowable. We also know that actions can have more numerous effects (KARMA) than we consciously or initially intended. They can be causes of other actions which can also have ripple effects that go on to impact yet more things or people then we ever conceived of or imagined at the time they were set in motion. Thoughts, however, are far more difficult to visualize, primarily because they are more introspective, and the connection between a thought and an action is more difficult for others to see when they are not the ones having the thought.

Are thoughts that different from actions? We know that thoughts can have have effects via meditation, and prayer. We may not be able to see them as tangibly as we do actions, but the person having the thought can perhaps visualize in their minds’ eye an image of what that thought is, especially if the thought has a visual component to it such as a picture of something or someone. We also know that thoughts can have power, at least with some people, who seem to be able to influence others with their thinking. We also know that a person, who is the subject of the attention by their fame or notoriety, such as a politician or an actor, can feel the thoughts of others focusing on them, sometimes to a painful degree.

Over the years, when I have considered the difference or similarities between thoughts and actions, I have come to the conclusion that they are basically the same. Thoughts, I have reasoned, are actions on another plane, a subtler plane that exists super-imposed but inter-connected with the corporeal plane. Thoughts affect actions, and actions affect thoughts. The only difference between the two are the physical characteristics that actions have since they can be seen by others who are present to view them as they are taking place. Thoughts can be silent, held only by the person who is having them or felt by the person who is receiving them or by others who have special abilities to perceive them on some level that is beyond the five senses we know exist.

If my view of thoughts and actions has some credibility, then are we as responsible for the thoughts we have as for the actions we initiate? This is the tricky part. How do we define responsibility here? We have random thoughts. Some are are “good”, some may be “bad”. Should we be held as responsible for random thoughts as for those that have motives?

Random thoughts are not as controllable as ones that have motives. They can be akin to instincts, or as unconscious thoughts as in dreams. How do we distinguish the difference? I don’t think we can. Random thoughts perhaps can have unconscious motives, but thoughts that are more willfully directed can have a more energetic beneficent or malevolent energy to them. Those are the ones I think we are more responsible for than random ones.

Legally, we can’t be held as accountable for our thoughts, as we can for our actions. But I’m not just referring to criminal law. If you believe in a higher justice which is Karmic, then our thoughts do take on a different meaning which gives it a different level of responsibility than criminal law does, although criminal law does recognize motive, it can’t prove motive as easily as it can identify an act that has been committed.

I think it’s important to consider that because thoughts may be somewhat invisible, it doesn’t mean that they do not have a concrete element to them. That quality can be tangible, and have an effect as real as any action. Finally, if thoughts are actions on a subtle plane we may not be totally aware of, does that mean because we can’t see them as easily as actions, they are any less real or important than actions we can see?