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Thread: How do you think?

  1. #1

    How do you think?

    I have been noticing lately that when my mind is clear (e.g. after a good sitting session) a lot of my decisions seem to be rather automatic and/or I do not spend too much time analyzing the situation before an action takes place. Conversely, when I am under pressure and/or I have to make an important decision (at work for example) my mind seems to prefer a different “route” and start analyzing and re-analyzing the situation. This thinking process consists of, basically, me talking (quietly and in my head) to myself. I keep noticing that while most of the time I think in terms of “I should do this; I have to modify that; I need to change this; etc.”, some other times I use the second person as in “you should do this; you have to modify that; you need to change this; etc.”. I am sure we all go through the same process, but doesn’t it sound crazy when we put it in words? If we “increased the volume” a bit and started talking out loud to ourselves we would be considered to be plain crazy, or strange at the very least.

    So…let me ask you:
    Do you need to verbalize a thought in order to really understand a concept and make a sound decision? Most animals don’t.
    Do you often experience this “Me”, “Myself” and “I” split/division even after years of Zazen?

    Thanks,

    A.

  2. #2
    Ouch! Too much thinking. Let's sit and drink some tea.

    Gassho, Jishin

  3. #3
    I think that Jishin has the right idea. Thoughts are not bad things but there is no need to encourage them!

    Gassho
    Andy

  4. #4
    >Thoughts are not bad things but there is no need to encourage them!
    What makes you think that?

    I find those questions facinating, strangely addictive, and definitively irritating. I still believe that inquiring about questions like these may lead to a better understanding of what the mind is (of what is not, rather), but I am not so sure anymore.

    Anyway, tea time!

    A.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Push yourself and just do it. If thoughts help you to jump off, then do it. Think enough to help you, do not be impulsive. Then only go straight and just do it.

    Zen practice is an everyday affair. Not special.

    P.S. this is my personal expression and understanding. It may not be helpful to you or some other people.

    Gassho, Ben
    Last edited by Tiwala; 03-13-2014 at 11:30 PM.
    Gassho
    Ben

  6. #6
    Hi Andrea,

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea1974 View Post
    I still believe that inquiring about questions like these may lead to a better understanding of what the mind is (of what is not, rather), but I am not so sure anymore.
    It is exactly those thoughts that separate you from reality. Your true self is before thinking, just like that.

    Gassho,

    Daitetsu
    no thing needs to be added

  7. #7
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daitetsu View Post
    Hi Andrea,



    It is exactly those thoughts that separate you from reality. Your true self is before thinking, just like that.

    Gassho,

    Daitetsu
    As if we could ever escape from Buddha's plate, devouring us buddha moment by buddha moment. Just like this, even thinking becomes Buddha!

    (In my stupid understanding)



    Gassho, Ben
    Gassho
    Ben

  8. #8
    There is nothing to understand.
    Things are as they are. The sky is blue, the grass is green, thoughts are thoughts.

    Gassho,

    Daitetsu
    no thing needs to be added

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Daitetsu View Post
    There is nothing to understand.
    Things are as they are. The sky is blue, the grass is green, thoughts are thoughts.

    Gassho,

    Daitetsu
    Very nice ... spring comes, grass grows, all by itself. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen
    真 眼

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea1974 View Post

    So…let me ask you:
    Do you need to verbalize a thought .... Most animals don’t.

    Hmmm. Animals don't ever verbalized anything. And they do not really think, so much as act on instinct. This is why they are better At Zen practice than we are.

    you got great advice and wisdom from the others on this thread. Drop all thoughts and just sit.

    Gassho,
    Juki
    "First you have to give up." Tyler Durden

  11. #11
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daitetsu View Post
    There is nothing to understand.
    Things are as they are. The sky is blue, the grass is green, thoughts are thoughts.

    Gassho,

    Daitetsu
    _/\_


    Gassho, Ben
    Gassho
    Ben

  12. #12
    Senior Member Entai's Avatar
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    Andrea,
    There is something to be said for analysis of the thought process as it applies to behavioral issues. There are times when analysis can assist in determining why we behave as we do. If you are interested in this aspect of thought, I'd recommend reading about EBT or REBT (deals quite a bit with "should/must" thinking). Check out Albert Ellis.

    However, when Dogen spoke of "studying the self", he was speaking in the terms expressed so eloquently in the posts here.

    Analysis has its place, but it isn't reality. Reality can't be held, only experienced.

    Hope this helps.
    Gassho, Entai

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea1974 View Post

    So…let me ask you:
    Do you need to verbalize a thought in order to really understand a concept and make a sound decision?
    Sometimes I verbalize and make the right decision, sometimes wrong. Sometimes I do not verbalize and make the wrong decision, sometimes right.

    But do you know how to verbalize beyond verbalizing, thereby making the decisions that are always Right (Big "R") despite and both when right or wrong? That is our Practice.

    Do you often experience this “Me”, “Myself” and “I” split/division even after years of Zazen?
    Yes, because I am a human being (me who is not you), and I will be till I die.

    No, because I am Buddha (and so are you ... anyway, what "me" or "you", "born" or "die"?)

    You know, our way, Andrea, is not to be without thinking. It is not necessarily to be without words.

    But first one must learn to sit beyond thinking, without words ... no names for this or that, later or before, good or bad, me and you. Dump all these questions in the dumpster and Just Sit.

    Then, having realized such, then come back to thinking and words ... to names, to this and that, good and bad, later and before, me and you. Some of those things then will be just the same as before, but some will appear quite different. Many of these questions will appear not so important after all, or prove not to have been worth the time at all.

    It is not really merely that "Your true self is before thinking", as was said. It is better said that one must truly know this "before thinking" to realize that one's "true self" is both in thinking and before thinking, and was and is here all along. Even thinking becomes Buddha ... better said, is and has been Buddha all along, though perhaps we were too caught up in our thoughts to realize so.

    A famous Koan about the 6th Ancestor, Hui-neng, coming across two monks who were verbalizing but could not decide ...

    the Gateless Gate, Case 29. It was a custom in the old days in China that as a guest speaker arrived to offer a teaching at a Temple, the Temple flag would be raised. Master Hui-Neng, the Sixth Patriarch, was to offer a talk and as he approached he heard two monks deep in discussion: the wind is moving, no the flag is moving, and on and on.

    Hui-Neng says,'neither the wind nor the flag is moving: it is your mind that is moving.'

    A commentator, Mumon, adds 'neither the wind, the flag, nor the mind, moves: all of their words fail.'
    I would comment that, when one realizes the unmoving mind, wind can move, flag can move, mind can move again and there is no problem ... for all is unmoving moving.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 03-14-2014 at 02:50 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  14. #14
    Thank you all for your responses…this is awesome!

    I am the first one to admit that I tend to over analyze these types of questions, but I am also of the opinion that a healthy balance of Zazen (which deals directly with “what IT is”) and intellectual analysis (which deals with “what IT is not”) is beneficial.

    Knowing that the sky is blues because molecules in the air scatter blue light from the sun more than they scatter red light, the grass is green because it produce a bright pigment called chlorophyll, and thoughts are thoughts because….well, this one is a bit harder to explain….ahah!....can only add to our experience as long as we do not forget that molecules, red light, and chlorophyll are only a model of reality.

    Thanks again…I truly appreciate your comments!

    A.

  15. #15
    Thank you Jundo! I just saw your comment. Beautiful and very inspiring as always!

    >Dump all these questions in the dumpster and Just Sit.

    I have been sitting a lot more lately and one of the things I noticed is that (as you stated) "many of these questions do not appear so important after all". Still a lot of them remain but I am “washing them (well, most of them) away” via Zazen.



    A.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea1974 View Post

    Knowing that the sky is blues because molecules in the air scatter blue light from the sun more than they scatter red light, the grass is green because it produce a bright pigment called chlorophyll, and thoughts are thoughts because….well, this one is a bit harder to explain….ahah!....can only add to our experience as long as we do not forget that molecules, red light, and chlorophyll are only a model of reality.
    Yes, yes. But first know the clear sky with sun shining right through the clouds of thoughts ... the grass tips which each hold countless universes. Dogen wrote in Shobogenzo-Uji ...

    Know that in this way there are myriads of forms and hundreds of grasses
    throughout the entire earth, and yet each grass and each form itself is the
    entire earth. The study of this is the beginning of practice.
    When you are at this place, there is just one grass, there is just one form; there is understanding of form and no-understanding of form; there is
    understanding of grass and no-understanding of grass. Since there is nothing
    but just this moment, the time-being is all the time there is. Grass-being,
    form-being are both time.
    Each moment is all being, is the entire world. Reflect now whether any
    being or any world is left out of the present moment.
    And once one has mastered that, well, okay to come back to the world of fragmented sunlight bouncing off chlorophyll. Blues may appear even bluer, and greens even greener than before.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post

    It is not really merely that "Your true self is before thinking", as was said. It is better said that one must truly know this "before thinking" to realize that one's "true self" is both in thinking and before thinking, and was and is here all along. Even thinking becomes Buddha ... better said, is and has been Buddha all along, though perhaps we were too caught up in our thoughts to realize so.
    Yeah, this is it for me. When I read "true self is before thinking," I thought, why before? Why not after? Why not during? Why not always? Same with becoming; nothing to become. Like Shingen says, grass grows by itself, and I'd add that the sky blooms and flowers sky, and thoughts think especially when rain makes clouds, and the cat sits in your family room doing zazen, while we imagine we know.

    Gassho
    Shōmon

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by alan.r View Post
    the cat sits in your family room doing zazen, while we imagine we know.

    Gassho

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by alan.r View Post
    Yeah, this is it for me. When I read "true self is before thinking," I thought, why before? Why not after? Why not during? Why not always?
    Sure the true self is there all the time - where would it go?
    However, one must first realise that thoughts make discrimination, categories, separation, and (dis)likes. Only after one has realised this fact, one can see that even those thoughts and this world of samsara are actually just the other side of the same coin, and that one has been IT all along.
    IMHO it is only after realising that words cause separation that we can see that both samsara as well as nirvana are just different aspects of the same thing.
    And in that way we have the chance to go from life living us to us living life and then back to life living us again - the same like the beginning, yet completely different.

    Gassho,

    Daitetsu
    no thing needs to be added

  20. #20
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    Thanks everyone for this thread!

    I found I wanted to immediately dive into "the mind" and explain it away. It's the therapist in me I guess. Then I read the responses and realized, "I don't need to do this anymore." But I will offer support to Andrea1974! Hey Andrea, my mind does all this too! I get stuck in worrying about the future and my own stress and anxiety. But finally, after all these years, I think the only thing that really helps this mind-state is Zazen and practice, practice, practice. In essence, I've fired my therapist and re-hired the Buddha. We'll see what happens. So far, I "feel better" than I have in years!

    Warmly,
    Diana

  21. #21
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Andrea, sounds like your thoughts are very similar to my own. I too over think and analyze things a lot of the time. Going for a walk in nature to clear my head helps. But even more so, persistently sitting (for a year now), even when the thoughts are racing (which they almost always are) has helped a lot. I still get the over-analytical too much thinking, but now, I can separate myself from those thoughts more, and not cling to them or identify with them so strongly.

    And I still sit, each day, with a racing mind.

    Gassho,
    Joyo

  22. #22
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    Thanks for this post Andrea. I do experience this. Often I find with a clear mind I can ask myself a question and I get an answer in a "you" form. We tend to call this voice intuition, conscience, the superego etc... If I have to call it anything I call it Buddha (though I know this is is not quite right). The longer (haha time is funny) I practice the more this voice becomes the only voice, so the less I need to ask.

    Gassho, Foolish John

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