David Hume Meditation
Selections from An Abstract of the Treatise of Human Nature
The Chain of Thought
David Hume (1711-1776) is often regarded as one of the greatest philosophers to write in the English language. Charles Darwin, Immanuel Kant and Albert Einstein all acknowledged the importance of Hume’s writings in developing their own ideas.
By contemplating and meditating upon the wisdom-insights of great philosophers, we can know ourselves more clearly and experience the bliss of pure awareness and creation.
Hume, in his An Abstract of the Treatise of Human Nature, from which all quotes in this writing are taken, writes that his greatest discovery in philosophy is the “principle of the association of ideas.” He says, “no ideas are different from each other.” In other words, all ideas are connected to other ideas and create a fabric of mind.
He calls this web of thought a “secret tie or union among particular ideas.” This “thread, or chain of thought” creates our individual experience of reality. It is secret only in that we are most often unaware of the foundation of our sense of reality. This mind-stuff is our being.
Principles of Association
The three “principles of association” by which we generate our experience in the world are resemblance, contiguity, and causation. Resemblance: a portrait makes us think of the person it was painted of. Contiguity, which by definition means proximity: when one mentions Paris, the idea of France naturally occurs. Causation, “when we think of the son, we are apt to carry our attention to the father.”
Hume calls these three the “only links that bind the parts of the universe together, or connect us with any person or object exterior to ourselves…they are to us the cement of the universe and all the operations of the mind must, in a great measure, depend on them.”
Hume has objectified and is beginning to see the building blocks of the mind. In your meditation, you can now begin to objectify all of the thoughts swirling through your mind and begin to see how your thoughts create your sense of the world and your sense of yourself, your ego, the way you project yourself into your sense of the world.
By unraveling this web of thought, you gain the power to create a reality aligned with your deeper longings. You also begin to touch the very source of your existence which, when touched at a deep enough level, is pure joy. To concentrate upon this creative process is to feel the creative power of the universe.