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Buddhadharma : Fall 2015
fall 2 0 1 5 buDDhaDharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 19 tenzin Wangyal rinpoche: This is a great question. Basically, the answer is very simple: according to Buddhism, not follow- ing or trusting your thoughts is the correct view, particularly thoughts that are con- ditioned by hope and fear. So how do you work with the persistent thought that you wish you weren’t married to your spouse? If you engage in a certain level of reflec- tion, you may surmise that there are condi- tions that support you to be happy and to feel more flow and creativity in your life, and other conditions that seem to block this flow. So one possibility is to arrange the conditions of your life to maximize happi- ness and minimize suffering or discomfort. If you live with or work for someone who doesn’t understand or respect or acknowl- edge the conditions that support you, you will suffer more. So you can change your conditions. People do this all the time: we open the window when the room is stuffy, we change jobs, we move from one location to the next, we divorce. Instead of (or in addition to) looking outward at the causes and conditions of our suffering and rearranging the furni- ture of our life, we can also look inward at the one who is suffering. And how we look—the method we use and the quality of the observer—makes all the difference in the result. Analyzing the reasons and causes for our choices may allow us to have more compassion for the complexity of our human condition and the consequences our actions have on others. Here, it may not be so clear that simply moving on is a choice we want to exercise. Will we just recreate the same mess all over again? The path of meditation offers an addi- tional possibility: look at the thought and the thinker of the thought nakedly and (lEFT–RIgHT):marylang,nicolasgounaropoulos,kimcampbell ask the teachers Q When i hear buddhist teachers say, “Don’t believe everything you think,” i’m not sure i understand. How can I know which thoughts to believe? For instance, I seem to constantly have an unbidden thought that I wish I weren’t married to my spouse. But then I think, well, I’m a Buddhist, I don’t have to believe this thought. Besides, this is not something I would discuss or act on—it would totally devastate my wife. I hold to other Buddhist-inspired thoughts as well, such as be kind and don’t hurt people, and I try to follow the bodhisattva vow, putting her happiness ahead of mine. But this nagging, unbidden thought won’t go away. when does not believing your thoughts become something like disassociation or even lying instead of something wholesome? NarayaN HeleN liebeNsoN is a guiding teacher at Cambridge Insight Meditation Center GesHe TeNziN WaNGyal riNpocHe is a lineage holder of the Bön Dzogchen tradition of Tibet sallie jiko Tisdale is a lay dharma teacher at Dharma rain Zen Center in Portland, Oregon