Wisdom on Holding Thoughts Lightly

Wisdom on Holding Thoughts Lightly

Matt Church

Matt Church

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Published by Matt Church – Founder on 5 October 2022

Buddha said that with our thoughts, we create the world. My teachers say that he was addressing the idea that the world of phenomena is created in our mind.


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Buddha said that with our thoughts, we create the world. My teachers say that he was addressing the idea that the world of phenomena is created in our mind.

You could be mistaken for thinking that Buddha did not think much of thinking. There are teachings on non-pluralistic thinking, in the Dharma, suffering is often linked to thinking and so on. Many like to say that thinking is the tool of ego and that ego is the enemy, a book title by Stoic champion Ryan Holiday.

I don’t think this conclusion is quite right: The trajectory of this idea feels right; like softening your attachment to thoughts, but weighing it down with anti-thoughts about, well thinking, seems restricted and itself a bit pluralistic and dualistic. Sorry lots of thought, think, thinking references in that last sentence. BTW the irony of this conversation being in a space for Thought Leaders is not lost on me and that’s kind of the point.

Rupert Spira makes a nice teaching distinction around the three verbs of ego namely being:


The teaching to be equanimous encompasses the first two, namely, to be without desire or repulsion to anything and the third verb conceptualising is of course a type of thinking.

Buddha went on to teach that thinking (and feeling for this point as he conflated the two) was our sixth sense. A way we experience the world around us. A way of being with the phenomena we experience as ‘our life’. In this way then, thinking as a tool for awareness and contemplation reframes thinking from essentially bad, or something that should die, to something very, very, useful.

Many of the wisdom tradition teachers will remark that the ego (as defined as our self-identity with a little ‘s’) is the source of our thinking and that it needs to be dealt with with great severity. Now here is where we get some different opinions. Some say the ego has to die! Some say it needs to be tamed, one book actually likens your ego to a dog that misbehaves. Yogi and spiritual teacher, Michael Singer, takes a more gentle approach. He likens the typical thinking process as a dysfunctional part of us that needs to be brought into harmony and balance. Singer poses an analogy that I like: (and paraphrase below)

Imagine if you woke up and your arm was flapping around without any voluntary control. You would do something about that, and yet for many, this is exactly how thinking happens. It’s accidental, impolite, and lacking any intentionality. Singers’ ‘Flappy mind’ is an idea that sticks with me. Makes me laugh when I am meditating and my mind wanders. Or I wake up and my to-do list starts up like a K9 Chain saw in an old-growth forest.

Sit quietly at some point today and ask yourself?

Am I my thoughts?
If not, for who is this thought happening?
Who is watching the thought?

Then jump onto the work of Byron Katie and learn her process for examining your thoughts and questioning them. Byron Katie via thework.org.

Reflection for today’s newsletter by Eckhart Tolle
If in the exact passing moment of each instant, there is a complete willingness to totally surrender to it, one can suddenly, in a flash, transcend the ego, and the way opens for Realization wherein the Light of God as Self reveals the Source of all Existence and Reality. If the ego has neither past, present, nor future to focus on, it falls silent. It is replaced by the Silence of the Presence, and thus, the way to sudden enlightenment is available at all times.

It occurs naturally when the fascination with the story of the ‘me’ of the past, present, or future is relinquished. The illusion of ‘Now’ is replaced by the reality of ‘Always’.

This is often explained as the ego surrendering to truth. Personal force giving way to a transpersonal force. A change of occupancy if you like. The ‘me’ who ‘thinks’ is not always happy with it.

With Love on the journey

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