The Powerlessness of Thought

The Powerlessness of Thought

I am so glad that thought isn’t the creative power of the universe. Although I often hear people claim that it is.

The reason I’m glad is that my life would have been one of far greater chaos, and likely ended by now, were thought powerfully creative.

That’s because I used to think a lot. It was such a stew of negativity, which I strove constantly to counter with “positive” thinking.

This was the experience of Eckhart Tolle, too, which he relates in The Power of Now. His existence was plagued with thought.

I use the word “existence” deliberately, because you can’t dignify it with the term “life.” It’s not really living at all. It’s a sort of hell.

Life can be awfully painful when we are caught up in thought, a constant struggle, a whole lot of efforting.

But the morning Eckhart awakened from sleep after the life-altering transformation he went through, he opened his eyes on a completely different world. Even the familiar objects of his bedroom appeared so very different. He was alive for the first time since he was an infant.

As the days, weeks, and months went by, it began to dawn on Eckhart that as part of the great change that had come over him, there had been a huge reduction in thought. He now thought hardly at all.


Awareness, which involves being fully present in our life, had replaced thought.

Awareness, insight, inspiration, attunement, experiencing connection, knowing joy, loving life, feeling peaceful, being calm—these are characteristics of the fully alive person that have nothing to do with thought.

Awareness can be highly creative.

And the wonderful thing is that the creativity just flows from within, spontaneously drawing to it all it needs to accomplish what it seeks to do, without our thinking or “efforting.”

The other day, I was listening to someone extolling the power of thought. Of course, they were talking about a certain kind of thought. And it’s true that to be a “positive” thinker is preferable to thinking a lot of negative thoughts.

But it occurred to me that the reason so many who practice “positive thinking” don’t experience the kind of joyous, peaceful, loving, creative life they long to have is because thought really isn’t very powerful at all. It’s just a huge hindrance to the real power of creativity.

And as I listened to this person who was extolling thought, it also dawned on me how incredibly mental the whole idea they were expounding was. There was nothing simple, easy, flowing about it at all—even though they were talking all about “flow.”

Whew! Was I glad I don’t need to do all that mental work anymore.

The idea that thought is the creative power of the universe is hugely popular, not least among people who seek to pursue a spiritual journey. There have been books about “thinking” and how it can change your life. People seem to love systems of thought.

It’s really no surprise that the idea thought is powerfully creative would be popular, and that teachers who emphasize “the power of thought” would be sought after.

Of course! The mental aspect of our humanity relishes that kind of thing. It keeps us in the false self of ego, trapped in an endless loop of wasted energy akin to chasing our tail.


David Robert Ord is author of Your Forgotten Self Mirrored in Jesus the Christ and the audio book Lessons in Loving–A Journey into the Heart, both from Namaste Publishing, publishers of Eckhart Tolle and other transformational authors. He writes The Compassionate Eye daily, together with his daily author blog The Sunday Blog, at

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