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Buddhadharma : Fall 2011
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly fall 2 0 11 22 Zenkei blanche hartman: The short answer is, yes, buddhas do think. However, I have a bumper sticker on my car that says, “Don’t believe everything you think,” because so often we identify with our thoughts and set up a self there. We can become quite emotional about being “right” and get into heated arguments and conflicts defending our point of view. Perhaps if we’ve been told in meditation instruction not to get carried away by our thoughts, we get the idea that we are supposed to stop thinking. A student once said to Suzuki Roshi, “I just can’t stop thinking. What should I do?” Roshi replied, “Is there some problem with thinking?” The Pali Canon is a vast collection of examples of how Shakyamuni Buddha thought; and all of the vast litera- ture of teaching and commentary over the last 2,500 years from Buddha ancestors of many countries and cultures are examples of how a buddha thinks. A buddha’s intention is to free beings from suffering and distress, so he or she clearly observes which actions of body, speech, and mind lead to peace and happiness and which lead to misery, and teaches others what he or she has discovered. It is up to us, then, to train ourselves to relinquish thinking that leads to suffering and to cultivate thinking that leads to happiness. For example, in the Dhammapada (Gil Fronsdal transla- tion), Shakyamuni Buddha teaches: All experience is preceded by mind, led by mind, made by mind. Speak or act with a corrupted mind, and suffering follows As the wagon wheel follows the hoof of the ox. All experience is preceded by mind, led by mind, made by mind. Speak or act with a peaceful mind and happiness follows Like a never departing shadow. “He abused me, attacked me, defeated me, robbed me!” For those carrying on like this, hatred does not end. “She abused me, attacked me, defeated me, robbed me!” For those not carrying on like this, hatred ends. Our effort in zazen is to observe our own thinking and to notice any habitual thought patterns, for example, how often first person pronouns (e.g. I, me, mine) show up. We might notice that in our mind we often set up a boundary between “this” and “that” or “me” and “not me” or “self” and “other.” We could explore just where such a boundary is, or if there really is such a boundary outside our thoughts. Could we make it bigger to include more? Could we let it expand to include the whole universe? Or we might notice a habitual tendency toward self-deprecation or self-aggran- dizement, or a tendency to make judgments about others. Then we can observe whether any of these habitual thought patterns result in peace or stress. Master of Arts (MA) in Buddhist Studies Master of Divinity (MDiv) Tibetan Language Translation Group Extension Program (Open Admission) & Online Study Options for Many Courses scholarship. meditation. service 1119 SE Market Street | Portland, Oregon 97214 telephone: 503-235-2477 | email: email@example.com www.maitripa.org INQUIRE NOW ABOUT UPCOMING COURSES Graduate Studies at Maitripa College Graduate Studies at Maitripa College