Thinking is potentially the way in which we overcome the alienation and division of modernity; it is the mode in which we are complete, integrated and in communication with the divine.
In other words, nothing is more important than Thinking - or than Thinking could be: Necessary Thinking (or what Coleridge called Imagination).
But Necessary Thinking is not the one we currently have in The West - neither is it how things used to be; it is something new.
However, although the necessary Thinking is new, it is not obscure, weird or unfamiliar in its form; it does not require a changed state of consciousness (like a trance); rather it is alert, purposive and simply a complete, inclusive form of the Thinking we already have.
What is wrong with current Thinking - as it is trained into us, made habit, and reinforced by public discourse - is that it is both horribly narrow and also fragmented.
Firstly, current Thinking excludes as invalid all thought that do not originate in sensory perceptions (including scientific and quantitative measurements).
What happens is that current Thinking labels each incoming thought as either valid or non-valid on the basis of its provenance (i.e. where it comes-from); and non-valid thoughts include 'the imaginary', memories, arts and literature, music, fantasies and anything of unknown (to the senses) origin.
I can illustrate how this works from my own experience. I was deeply influenced by the works of Tolkien from the age of 13; but my thoughts derived from Tolkien were pre-labelled as 'fiction' or 'fantasy' and kept apart from the Thinking concerned with public discourse - things I talked with others about, stuff for examination, aspects of my work etc.
The Tolkien-derived thoughts were relegated to a thread of 'fantasy' which I was allowed to visit for pleasurable distraction, but which was prevented from interacting with 'serious' matters.
As another example; when my Mother died I was intuitively convinced that she was not extinct but in some way remained; however, I still a few years from being a Christian; and therefore this knowledge was labelled something like 'wishful thinking' - best kept to myself; or at most 'symbolism' - meaning it was not literally true that my Mother remained alive, but this was an interpretation (maybe of genetics) that was useful in my leading a fulfilling life. However, there was no place for this knowledge in the serious and publicly-shared Thinking about my life, work, and the world.
This is what modern people do. They have all kinds of spontaneous thoughts on all kinds of subjects - but the great majority of these thoughts are pre-labelled non-valid (for one reason or another) and excluded from public discourse.
Public discourse is therefore made from the processing of a tiny 'assumed-valid' sub-sample of our spontaneous thoughts.
This is meagre basis for Thinking is bad enough - but matters are made worse by the way in which assumed-valid thoughts are treated as discrete.
Because each thought needs to be evaluated separately, our Thinking is broken-up into thoughts in order that we can pre-evaluate each thought; and most thoughts are rejected as non-valid.
We then find that we cannot recombine even that small proportio of our validated thoughts - cannot join them into a fluid and integrated stream of Thinking.
Our modern Thinking is therefore impaired - not just by expulsion of most thoughts, but also by the fact that each assumed-valid thought must retain its autonomy - such that we are trying (but failing) to build a fluid stream of Thinking from something like solid spheres...
Instead of an integrated stream of Think-ing; we simply have a sequence of thoughts; thoughts lined-up but each detached from each other; in an order which seems arbitrary, and having no meaning greater than each individual thought.
Modern Thinking is segmented and censored - and I think this is imposed and learned from early childhood (in my case, from about five years old onwards) until the point it becomes ingrained, habitual, taken-for-granted and invisible. We are it.
From this maimed Thinking modern Man cannot derive any meaning, neither can we derive any purpose or direction. Tis is the modern condition of alienation.
(And Religion makes little difference; because our Thinking about religion is simply a part of this maimed Thinking. We have individual thoughts about religion; but the religious mode of Thinking is modern, hence alienated; and we do not feel meaning or purpose - we merely have belifs-about meaning and purpose.)
We are absolutely stuck; unless we can change our mode of Thinking.
Necessary Thinking (or true Imagination) is a mode in which everything which comes to mind is included a part of the stream of thinking.
So that Necessary Thinking includes all those thoughts which modern Man regards as imaginary, fantasy, memories; it includes 'random' thoughts, 'errors', 'misunderstandings'... it is open to all sources and kinds of thoughts; and these are allowed to flow, combine, coalesce, extend - or rather they are never broken-up into discrete 'thought' in the first place, but Thinking is allowed to be a truly fluid stream of consciousness.
But Necessary Thinking is not passive - it is always alert, conscious, purposive.
Nor does True Imagination simply accept everything which comes out of it; rather everything is evaluated - but it is not individual 'thoughts' which are evaluated, but instead we evaluate the product of fluid, open, spontaneous, inclusive Think-ing.
And this True Imagination (or Necessary Thinking) is, ultimately, what we mortal incarnate Men Live-In - it is where our Selves are located.
And this is how grown-up men and women are meant to Be.
(Note: Imagination/ Necessary Thinking is also the state that Owen Barfield called Final Participation.)