Sabbath is a Jewish word, which is a day set apart for God. It’s a day of rest from other activities, a day specially dedicated to God. In one sense, it is a time for spiritual, mental and physical renewal. Many pharisees have given strict definitions on Sabbath that it becomes oppressive. It is interesting that a day of holistic renewal of the person has become oppressive. Surely Jesus criticized this mentality.
One of the titles of a book by William Desmond is “Is there a Sabbath for Thought’’. [I haven’t read the book, but the title has inspired to write something].
Aristotle has defined human beings as rational beings. Many may not agree to that definition today, but rationality is an important component of being human. What is rationality is also difficult to define, but we won’t dare define it. Thinking is essentially a part of being human. Thinking is exhibited in different arenas — be it science, philosophy, religion, politics, ethics, way of life, culture and others. All these are not separate compartments, but inter-linked and necessary for the development of holistic human life. [let’s clarify at the outset that thinking is not to be equated to mathematical or scientific, but it is much more than that].
Now we come back to the basic question, is there a Sabbath for thought? We are developing in the area of science. There is a dynamic circle of questions and responses (solutions). Here the solutions could be checked objectively for the accuracy of it. But the thinking in many other areas is difficult to be evaluated on the basis of an objective parameter.
Many people have either given a Sabbath to thoughts in other areas or they were forced to give a Sabbath by authorities, hierarchies, and those with power and money. Just as Sabbath in Jewish tradition was from physical work and for holistic human renewal, Sabbath today is from human thinking and for the perpetuation of oppressive structures. [since it is for longer duration, instead of relaxation, it offers something else]. Definitely the situation is not so bad that none is thinking. But it is still bad because few are thinking.
When Jewish Sabbath was only for 1/7days, we do practice on most of the days except in few sophisticated discussions (which don’t have any outcome most of the times). It is the responsibility of humanity to retrieve the gift of thinking. We are not to be dictated by authorities on what to think and how to think and finally how to act.
When thinking is taking a long break, we are forced to follow somebody else’s thinking. We are (in many cases) emotionally dependent on that teacher LEADER. In Indian understanding, Guru (teacher)means remover of darkness, he shows the way. I don’t think he will walk in front of you always and you have to just follow him. He will show you the means of finding the way and you have to find the way. He may give you fish for a few days, but his job is to train you to catch fish. As we stop thinking, it gives modern day teachers and leaders to give you their thoughts (which could be oppressive or manipulated) and you being finally depended on them.
Jesus would say “you shall know the truth and truth will set you free”. For me, thinking is a process to follow that truth and then to freedom. [you will never appropriate truth fully. It is journey. I (I alone)need to make. Others can help and guide, but can’t choose my direction and path.]
[When I am a student, it is very easy to speak of the need to think; I do some thinking too. But the challenge is, when I get into an authority position to continue thinking and encourage the thinking of others. I remain aware of that, hoping that I do justice to thinking.]