I've heard over and over again at 3P events the exclamation "It's just a thought" or "It's only thought". As if all thoughts are equal. How do you reconcile these statements with our tradition which puts great emphasis on striving for purity of thought, banishing negative thoughts and focusing on positive holy thoughts? - Rabbi X
I am repeatedly humbled, as I continuously find myself needing to go back to the basics of the 3 Principles.
Here is just how I understand it today.
All feeling is utterly and completely a product of my own thinking. The thinking (and feelings they create) I have at any given moment is free. Free from circumstances or the past. In other words, circumstances do not dictate what thinking I have. I can think/feel anything, anywhere, anytime.
To say "its just thought" sometimes can seem to reveal an under-appreciation for just how powerful and absolute the Power of Thought is.
It is also not aligned with Torah ethic, as it seems to indicate that "its okay" to dwell on or actively choose to think certain things purposefully with the excuse that "its only a thought". Pursuing pureness of thought is a Torah virtue not to be waived off as unimportant.
What most 3P people mean when they say "its just thought" is the relief they experience in realizing that many feelings they have are not put on them by the world - "its just or only thought" they exclaim as the 100 or more considerations they previously were monitoring as possible causes, become obsolete. This is a true use of the exclamation - if it is a dismissal of all other possible feeling catalysts.
We are certain that the Principle of Thought is constant, total and absolute. No feeling can exists without Thought in the moment.
As the Baal Shem Tov taught:
אשר מחשבתו, שם הוא!
Your are where your mind is!
My understanding is that we take issue with the idea that all thinking is okay to delve into and ruminate upon based on the erroneous assumption that thoughts are harmless.
As you already know, they are not harmless. Thought is the beginning of all speech and action. It is the birthplace of how we are in the world. Feeling lets us know where are thinking has been. Without the feeling of anger, how would one know that he has anger thinking to work on? This is not "just thought" but rather a very important place of avodah (G-dly service).
The beauty of the Principles is that when they are insight-fully realized, the insight chips away at the ego which claims there IS something in this world that has inherent meaning and I am forced to feel a way I do or do not want to feel.
The Principles realign us with the fact that to feel anything we must include Thought, our own thinking in the creation of my reality.
This can be realized again and again and again and so on. Each time humbling us by awakening us to the true authorship of our feeling as being from inside, not outside in.