By holding thoughts captive, you free yourself from destructive thoughts and emotions, gain strength and health, and enable yourself to know Truth/God.
In my essay “You are not your thoughts” I explained that you do not create the thoughts that cross your mind, and that your thoughts do not define or limit you. Through silent meditation, you can know that you consist of consciousness or awareness, the observer or witness of those thoughts. In my essay Atheism is Self-Contradictory, I logically and phenomenologically proved that Universal Awareness/Consciousness is the One Supreme Being, or God, which is the Source of your being/presence, life and consciousness.
To reiterate, you are in essence a spirit consisting of awareness, the silent Witness of all things, including thoughts, and since your limited awareness comes from Universal Awareness, you as a center of awareness are a son or daughter of God.
Although all this is True, most people do not and can not believe this, nor do they act as sons or daughters of God, because they identify with and believe their thoughts and emotions. Since thoughts and emotions are by Nature limited, they never represent Reality. In short, all thoughts are false to some extent.
This is why we say "A picture is worth a thousand words." Thoughts consist of words, and words are by Nature limited. Even simple words like "red" fail to capture or convey the actual color red. A photo of a rose is a more accurate representation of the reality of roses than an essay on roses.
Thoughts are not Reality, Truth or God (Reality=Truth=God) and not only do not but can not accurately represent Reality, Truth or God. Thoughts only pretend to know/represent the Truth.
For example, you get up in the morning and immediately thoughts start harassing you. They tell you that you need x, y or z in order to function or be happy. They tell you how great you are or how vile you are; they tell you about people around you, what should have happened in the past and what’s going to happen in your day to come. These thoughts are not true, they are just beliefs (opinions). So long as you believe in them, you are worshipping lies, worshiping the Liar that put them in your mind.
These lies destroy your Peace and generate "stress." Stress arises when either you thirst for something you don't have or hate something you do have; in other words stress consists of either greed/lust or anger/hatred. These arise because you believe that you know more than God what you need and how the world should be arranged. In other words, God has given you X, but you demand Y. By hating Reality, the way things are, you are playing God. Playing God is the essence of sin.
When you hate Reality (wish it was different), you are not at ease, i.e. you are in dis-ease. When you pretend to be God, you are not in order, i.e. you are in dis-order. Stress produces disease and disorder. Hence, sin – simply, error – leads to suffering and death.
In Romans 6:22-23, Paul wrote:
"But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the fruit you reap leads to holiness, and the outcome is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
I suggest that one becomes a "slave to God" by being a slave to Reality or Truth as revealed by direct Awareness. Simply, you accept and submit to the Will of God as it is revealed by the course of Reality; you don't fight or rebel against Reality over which you have no control. In other words, you don't play God. Epictetus captured the point in the following passage of The Golden Sayings:
To sin is to worship thoughts and opinions that do not represent reality, to play God by pretending you know what's best for yourself and the world, to try to control things to make them go the way you imagine they should go, and to have anger/hatred. When you are a slave to God, you don't fight Reality by trying to make it all go the way you think it should go. While holding thoughts captive, you let God's will be done.
By holding thoughts captive, you embrace the Way, Truth and Life of the son/sun of God (the Light of your awareness), you have no greed/lust or anger/hatred, i.e. no stress, and this constitutes holiness. In holiness you have eternal life, i.e. you live in the eternal Present.
In contrast, when you are a slave to the Liar that fills you with thoughts and opinions, and makes you rebel against God (Reality) – called Satan by Christians –, you will suffer miserably with greed/lust and anger/hatred, and all variations thereof, and die while still living.
Simply, sin (error) produces stress and stress makes you weak and sick.
For another example, imagine you are meeting someone new. The person stands in front of you, and someone introduces him as a rich and powerful man. Suddenly thoughts leap into your mind, telling you this and that about that person and yourself. "He's superior to you, you're nothing in comparison." If you aren't holding thoughts captive, you believe the thoughts and become very nervous and start sweating bullets. You can't even talk properly under the stress when you aren't holding thoughts captive!
By holding thoughts captive, you don't believe the thoughts, which enables you see the Truth: this man in front of you is a mortal hunk of flesh who has no power or authority over you unless you agree to him having such power and authority. Like you he needs to eat, sleep, urinate and defecate. Like all other men he is mortal. If you are holding thoughts captive, you may even see that he is a slave to his greed/lust, anger/hatred and ignorance.
On another occasion you meet a man on the street. He looks poor and dirty. Suddenly again you are assailed with thoughts. The thoughts might put that man down and raise you up; or they might pity the man and bully you into giving him your hard-earned money. "Be a holy person, give him some money." If you don't fork over your cash, the thinker will berate you and try to make you feel guilty.
I am illustrating this: anyone who believes in his or her thoughts is a subject/slave of the Deceiver. To know the Truth you have to disregard thoughts and put your attention on Reality.
Unless you practice holding thoughts captive, they cast a spell over you. They weaken you, they can lead you to shake in your boots or do stupid or evil things.
The Truth is What Is, right now. That which is Present right now is the Truth. Thoughts on the other hand are always about the past or future, neither of which is Present. The Present is the Truth. How many times have you believed some prediction made by thoughts running through your mind, only to find out that they lied to you?
Thoughts always try to convince you that you could have controlled what happened in the past or can control what will happen in the future. They also try to convince you that others could have done differently. They try to convince you that by “free will” you can make the future take the shape you think you want it to take. Thoughts try to convince you: “Just do what I say, and you will get what you want, and not get what you don’t want.”
Of course these are lies. You can’t change the past, and you don’t control the future. You are not God!
In 2 Corinthians 10:4, Paul wrote:
“Weak men we may be, but it is not as such that we fight our battles. The weapons we wield are not merely human, but divinely potent to demolish strongholds; we demolish sophistries and all that rears its proud head against the knowledge of God; we compel every human thought to surrender in obedience to Christ; and we are prepared to punish all rebellion when once you have put yourselves in our hands.”
Here Paul writes about a spiritual, not physical, battle, using spiritual weapons to “demolish strongholds” and “sophistries” and “all that rears its proud head against the knowledge of God.”
A sophistry is subtly deceptive argument or reasoning process. This is exactly what trains of thought present to you when you are not holding thoughts captive moment by moment: subtly deceptive arguments aiming to convince you to strongly hold such and such opinion, feel thus and such, and do thus and such.
For example, imagine you are driving along in your car. Someone cuts you off. Right away some thoughts arise. If you aren't holding thoughts captive, they try to seduce you into making a judgement to form an opinion, such as: “What a jerk! You stupid idiot!”
In this moment you may believe that you are entitled to better treatment from this person, that he could have done something different, that you have a right to punish him, etc. You are not holding thoughts captive, the thoughts are holding you captive, making you do their bidding!
Thus the thoughts seduce you into anger/hatred. If you fall for Satan’s temptation, you will then be seduced into action, such as giving the finger, screaming, driving recklessly yourself, even attacking the other driver. Road rage.
Thoughts constitute Ego, and Ego, in Paul’s words, “rears its proud head against knowledge of God.” When you take your thoughts/opinions/judgements as truth, you are playing God.
To know Truth is to know God. When you are holding thoughts captive, you realize the Truth that you are not God. Consequently, your opinions and judgements cease being "strongholds" and this enables you to see/know the Truth, which comes from / is God.
You don’t know everything. You aren’t any better than nor entitled to anything from this person. You don’t know why that person cut you off. Maybe that driver is trying to rush his wife to the hospital to give birth. Maybe he is in the middle of an epileptic fit. Maybe he is drunk out of his mind. Maybe he is an armed criminal running from the police and if you confront him with your finger, he’ll put a bullet in your head.
When you pretend to know all, i.e. pretend to be God, you will get into a lot of trouble. You don’t know what you don’t know.
When you aren't holding thoughts captive, you believe the thoughts that assail you, you are putting your faith in lies and you are worshipping your thoughts as if they were God. That is delusion, and if you act in delusion, its not going to turn out well for you.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna: “There are two kinds of beings created in this world, the divine and the demoniac…Hear from me, O Partha, of the demoniac.”
He then goes on to describe how the demoniacs think:
“'This I have won today; this desire I shall attain; this is mine and this wealth shall also be mine.’
“'I have slain this enemy, and I shall slay others also. I am the lord, the enjoyer; I am perfect, strong and happy.'
“'I am wealthy and well-born. Who else is there like me? I shall sacrifice, I shall rejoice'––thus speak those who are deluded by ignorance.
"Bewildered by many fancies, enveloped by the net of delusions and addicted to the satisfaction of desires, they fall into an impure hell….
"Possessed of egotism, force, pride, desire and anger, these envious ones hate Me in the bodies of themselves and others."
Trains of thoughts set a trap for you. Will you stay in the Present, in the Presence of God, the Truth, and let the Light of Awareness guide you moment to moment, while holding thoughts captive, or will you fall for the lies of the Deceiver, let thoughts hold you captive, and descend into the dis-ease, disorder and darkness of hell?
To escape this trap, Paul says “we compel every human thought to surrender in obedience to Christ.”
What is Christ? This title comes from the Greek word khristos, meaning “the anointed.” This word is almost certainly from the same root as the Sanskrit krsta which means “attraction” and is another name for Krishna.
Paul is referring to Jesus, who said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light; no man comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
Jesus also said “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Mathew 28:20) and “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me…” (John 14:11).
Similar to Jesus, in the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says: “The Lord abides in the hearts of all beings, O Arjuna, causing all beings to revolve by His power, as if they were mounted on a machine.” (Bhagavad Gita XVIII:61)
Logically, if Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Light, and with me always, he is not a man of flesh. The only being that is Truth and Light and with me always is: awareness. I suggest that Jesus, like Krishna, represents one who has overcome identification with the body and realized his spiritual union with the Father, who consists of pure Awareness and is Ever-present.
The Supreme Being, Absolute Awareness, Absolute Truth is the All Father or One Father (see Atheism is Self-Contradictory for proof). Your awareness is the “son/sun of God” in you, Lighting your Way and Life (because without awareness you are in the dark). All of us are in the Father (in Awareness, or Reality) and the Father (Awareness, Reality) is in every one of us.
However, most people don't realize this, because the Way to this realization is narrow like a razor's edge. Unlike Jesus, the ordinary man identifies with and believes in thoughts (lies) that occur to him, because he isn't holding thoughts captive. Consequently, the ordinary man doesn’t have unshakable faith in the Father, and is therefore subject to fear, anger, greed and so on.
Mathew 8:26 reports that Jesus asked his disciples: “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” This passage was meant to make you think. Why do humans have fear?
Because they aren't holding thoughts captive.
All emotions, including fear, are offspring of ignorance. When you are not Present, in the Presence of God, i.e. in Awareness, you are ignoring God (Reality, Truth) and worshipping thoughts. If you do not have faith in and follow the Light (moment-to-moment awareness) but believe in the constructs of thought/imagination, you will experience greed, anger and fear.
If you follow thoughts, you will live in imagination, and project opinions and judgements, greed, anger and fear into your experience, onto Reality; if you abide in Awareness, in the Present, you will reside in Peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7), in the Presence of the Supreme Being, God, your metaphysical Father.
To overcome spiritual darkness/death, you must make every thought surrender to Christ, i.e. Awareness. This is holding thoughts captive: Simply, do not believe your thoughts! Do not let thoughts, judgements or opinions lead you into the emotions of greed/lust or anger/hatred.
To follow Paul's advice: practice holding thoughts captive in your awareness. Start by practicing the silent meditation/prayer, wherein you practice holding thoughts captive by just watching/witnessing them. Do it morning and night. In this way you "seek the kingdom of God within."
"Be still and know that I am God.."
But don't practice only morning and night. Make holding thoughts captive a habit. Strive to remain the Witness of your thoughts at all times. Know that thoughts are deceptive. Don't believe in them. Watch them come and go without judging them as good or bad, useful or not. By not judging thoughts as good, bad, or true, you stop playing God. You learn to abide in awareness, not in thoughts. Then Awareness lights your way, and Truth is revealed moment by moment.
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