A Thought vs. an Idea

What would you say is the difference between a thought and an idea?

Here’s my take. A thought is something the mind thinks at a moment in time. An idea is the whole pattern of something, perhaps entertained in the mind all at once or downloaded over time. Of course, I am offering my own favorite meaning of the word idea. But I looked it up in the dictionary. Merriam-Webster has several definitions of the word. Some of them are synonymous with the word thought. Yet there is one that I particularly like, 4c:

A transcendent entity that is a real pattern of which existing things are imperfect representations.

This is a definition of an idea, attributed to Plato:

An archetype, or pure immaterial pattern, of which the individual objects in any one natural class are but the imperfect copies, and by participation in which they have their being.

One of my most vivid experiences of ideas has been as a songwriter. My experience is of finding the song in an unmanifest state. It is an idea, and as Plato described it: a pure immaterial pattern.

The word idea sounds heady. But my experience of touching the idea of a song is anything but. It is passionate and full of deep feeling.

It’s hard to describe. The flesh of the idea is soft and gentle. At first touch, it is like kissing a baby’s cheek. There is a sense of privilege upon encountering something so lovely, something definitely not mine, even though, as a songwriter, I have the high honor of ushering it into the world. Its beauty, passion, and delicacy often bring me to tears.

Sometimes, it feels like an instant download. There it is, the whole song! And I can’t write down the notes fast enough because I want them to be heard as music to human ears.

Other times, it appears a line at a time. I know there is a whole song there. But I don’t hear it altogether until it has downloaded onto my manuscript.

Often, I hear the tune playing in my head as I go about my day. I hear lyrics speaking to me while I am walking my puppy. And when I come home, Where did you go? You were right there. So, I have to coax the song out of its invisible heaven so it can be heard in the land of the living.

Songs aren’t the only ideas basking in the glory of the invisible realms. There are books, paintings, poems, and even businesses, families, and flower gardens.

Ideas are the patterns of life we can become aware of in our thoughts. But wouldn’t you say that the greater value is not in any individual thought we might have? The greater significance and value are the idea that the thought is a part of.

There is a vast difference between falling in love with our own thoughts and being in love with an idea, which is the pattern of a form of life that a thought might be a part of.

True thoughts are part of the idea from which they come. But some thoughts are just judgments, beliefs, or biases.

Someone said this:

Opinion is the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability, no understanding.

They say that talk is cheap. But so are opinions and other forms of thought that have no relationship to real ideas.

Ideas are the unborn reality of things that have yet to enter the world. They are the invisible source code of life, the spiritual DNA for a new world, and the holy city, coming down from God out of heaven if there is someone there to receive it.

Ideas are also our thoughtful awareness of the emerging pattern of life. Our minds are created as midwives of Creation, facilitating the entry of that new pattern into human culture.


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August 20, 2022 10:46 pm

I thoroughly enjoyed your article too David. And enjoyed reading some inspiring comments relating to it. I liked that you related it to the birthing process. This reminded me that each person is an Idea, an Idea that’s been formed from an infinite number of thoughts. And I liked also how you related it to songs that you’ve received. Now I’m seeing that each person – as an Idea, can also be likened to a Song – a Song that will come to us in bits and spurts, much like your songs have for you. In relationships with others, we get to know them and understand them gradually; parents take pictures of their developing children, and then look back on how they’ve come to appreciate these individuals they’ve brought into the world, much like you’ve enjoyed the songs that come to you in bits and spurts.

It boggles our finite minds to consider that each individual was an Idea in the Infinite Mind of our Creator. As Karen mentioned in one of her comments, we’re likened to Divine Sparks from a great source of Energy.

Fiona Gawronsky
Fiona Gawronsky
August 20, 2022 9:22 am

Thank you David for making us think!

Where do our thoughts and ideas come from? If not heaven-sent, they are surely merely reactive to what’s on the ground. Humanity looking in the wrong direction!

In my field of education, it is vital to get children to think, to be inspired, to find creativity in themselves. So many of us are being fed by social-media; we don’t think for ourselves or conceive of anything original or of value. No wonder the proliferation of fake news. It’s all vacuous.

Let us be at heaven’s gate. Thereby, at the point of origination; hearing the song of true creation to be brought earthward in sacred manifestation.

August 19, 2022 2:57 pm

Love this! Thank you – Ideas are also our thoughtful awareness of the emerging pattern of life. Our minds are created as midwives of Creation, facilitating the entry of that new pattern into human culture.

Karen Pritchard
Karen Pritchard
August 19, 2022 7:25 am

Just wondered if you ever came across the Muslim element of the Divine Spark. 

Fitra or fitrah (Arabic: فطرة; ALA-LC: fiṭrah) is either the state of purity and innocence in which Muslims believe all humans to be born, or the ability to choose or reject God’s guidance, with which both humans and jinn are endowed.

Christian’s Surrender to that soft spot we are all born with – the element of purity. Yet we have no apparent discipline to achieve this state ? Prayer, open heartedness and forgiveness perhaps ?

The Muslim discipline to retain Fitra is through a series of daily rituals and cleansing.

In Yoga too to achieve Samsara we practise meditation and 12 step postures Sun salutation.

Being with my granddaughter Alessandra reminded me of the Divine Spark that purity of being born and being in her state the essence of divine surrender, Fitra.

Buddhist the divine practise non suffering, Hindu’s divine practise of Atman the individuals real self. 

In realisation of our own soft spot and Divine Spark all we can do to achieve that is to surrender into the Pure state once more. The state of new born ? Or being born again ?

Our Thomas Paine who wrote the pamphlet on Common Sense must have surrendered to something within himself to have written such a clear thinking leading edge element? It is almost a biblical account for advocating American independence. A much needed device for the evolvement of a new country.

Our creative surrendering to the purity of who we are not only allows the ideas to flow and flourish more, it also brings forth the truth and our learning. To truly get our ‘houses in order’. 

Without that soft spot we cannot be open to the new and so the stimulus for the pure and new cannot be born into being. With our first breath, with our new life, we gently and softly dip into the divine spark of who we are and tune in to what is and what isn’t.

August 20, 2022 10:23 pm

Thank you Karen – your inspiring comments sure get me thinking. Along with David’s thoughts of the origins of ideas being a type of birthing process, your last paragraph about the need for the “soft spot” for the awareness of the new and the pure convinces me that you possess that awareness, which I would call being “born again”, another expression you used. It seems to me that you’re on the road to that new life you speak of.

My introduction to spirituality came through Christianity, so that’s what I’m familiar with. Perhaps if it had been through another means, I’d speak in a different manner, but I can only speak with what I’m familiar with. I wanted to mention that I’m experiencing a discipline, which I’d call “Christian”, that is a road to that soft spot of purification. You said that “Christians have no apparent discipline to achieve this state”, but I’ve found otherwise. After all, it’d be a cruelty for someone like Jesus to say to his followers, “Be ye perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect”, without providing a means to that state of perfection. I’m learning that the last “revelation” that Jesus gave, in the last book of the Bible and fittingly called “the Revelation”, can be a road to the state of purity we possessed when we were just Divine Sparks. So it was with delight that I read David’s last two Pulse articles on the “holy city”, since the Revelation concludes with a vision given to John of the holy city, coming down out of heaven from God. Yes, we have been given a discipline – but many just don’t know it … yet. But they will. First, they must want the holy city described there.

Karen Pritchard
Karen Pritchard
August 18, 2022 7:53 am

The beloved realm speaks to us in silent thread forms of love light, to me it resembles a shimmering prism line of the tiniest spiders tender work.

The flow of the inspirational moves in the most incredible rays, in the most unusual ways and there it is, in our minds ear and minds eye. The right idea and the best resolve. I often wonder how on earth did it get in there yet it did. Magically, miraculously through the love of my letting go and surrendering to the greater cosmic mind and on a scale I never realised I was capable of in the love of being creative, the answers and the dynamic results or vision gently slip in or sometimes come crashing in like thunder.

As harsh as opinions may be to our new born soft ready to be manifested ideas – I do love the challenge someone throws my way it urges the creative to become more detailed, stronger, sharper and more pronounced. I feel we need the judgement or nudge of others to fine tune our processes into their flourishing reality. I harshly critique my own ideas and rework them so they are modelled on a perfection that I am familiar with bringing into being.

I relish the joy of going into meditation or on a walk or the simple task of washing up, with a problem to solve or an idea I desperately need to acquire…when POP in it flows in like a heavenly gift with a flash of divine cosmic consciousness, saying, ‘here you are Karen, go see what you can do with that’.

When you deeply consider it, our Creator gave a lot of Love to their thoughts too – if they didn’t Love their thoughts enough they wouldn’t have been born into being?

We are all Loving Creators bringing what we love most into being, be it the word, the art, the design or the concept, the meal on our plate or the new born babe. All is created from Loving the idea of bringing it forth, bringing it Alive and Manifest otherwise no thing would exist. So that is The Power of Love after all, LOVING THE THOUGHT ENOUGH TO : write it, be it, create it, build it, or do it and breathe it into BEING.

Ron Free
Ron Free
August 18, 2022 5:44 am

Wow, David. I will need to re-read this particular pulse–perhaps several times–in order to penetrate its depth of meaning. And in between readings I will have much to meditate on and to ponder. I was astounded by my initial reading and yet I know that mentally I have only scratched the surface. And I plan to keep scratching…or perhaps digging would be a better word.

Beyond the mental level however, your words are resonating and reverberating deep within my soul. Could that be the ground breaking of the new earth preparing to receive the foundation for the building of the New Jerusalem?

Just a thought. Or is it an idea? Hmmm.

August 18, 2022 12:31 am

I totally love this! Also, I was just having a conversation regarding Truth and Opinion. The quote you have mentioned is right on the mark. Thanks!

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