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Buddhadharma : Fall 2011
23 fall 2 01 1 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly As soon as we notice a stressful thought— such as greed, grasping, craving, envy, aversion, ill will, anger, fear, hatred, or delusion—we can train ourselves to recognize it as unwholesome and let it go. As soon as we notice a wholesome thought— such as con- nection, love, kindness, compassion, empathetic joy, equanim- ity, gratefulness, generosity, enthusiasm, or devotion—we can train ourselves to recognize it as wholesome and cultivate it. “Who is it that notices these thoughts as wholesome or unwholesome and responds for the benefit of all beings?” This is an example of how a buddha or bodhisattva thinks. As we observe our mind at work, notice that it isn’t what comes up, but how we think about it that makes all the dif- ference for ourselves and all beings. tenZin Wangyal rinPoche: From the sutric viewpoint, “think- ing” is the mind that grasps its object through meaning or sound. For example, when we say “apple,” our thought grasps an image of an apple because we have associated meaning with that word and we grasp that in our mind. When we say, “I” or “me,” we may identify ourselves with a title, status, sex, religion, or even with pain—all of which involves the mov- ing mind, or thought. If thought is not there, we are not able to grasp. Samsara, or the suffering of existence, is the result of grasping. By definition, a buddha— one who is free of the suffering of existence— does not have a grasping mind. Since a buddha does not grasp, a buddha does not have thoughts. A buddha’s perception is pure awareness, or rigpa, which is not a product of the moving, thinking mind, but is direct perception. Thought can never experience the true nature of mind directly, so in Dzogchen, thought is not encouraged since it will not liberate us from suffering. And while conven- tionally we could agree that the thought to benefit another is preferable to the thought of jealousy, in order to achieve full realization one needs even to be free of positive thoughts because of their involvement with the grasping mind. The grasping mind is the source of suffering. Wherever there is grasping mind, there is pain and insecurity. But we are so familiar with this discomfort that the familiarity itself is comforting and we often do not see our thinking as an expression of pain. In fact, we are convinced that by improv- ing our thinking, and thereby the results of our thoughts, we will experience a better life. If we are willing to recognize that thoughts are an expres- sion of suffering, should we then declare a war on thoughts and attempt to get rid of them? This is not what the dharma advises. According to the teachings, to turn our pain into a path, we must use thoughts as the doorway to realize the thought-free. Basically thought is used to support one’s path not through smarter or better thinking but through direct observation, which does not involve thought. We look directly at the mind that thinks. Where does thought come from? Where does it go? Where is the mind? Who is thinking? Who is observing thinking? When you look directly at the