To control our thoughts we first must accept responsibility for our thoughts. Many of us feel that thoughts just appear from nowhere and are not our responsibility – yet even if a thought does appear from nowhere, it is still our choice whether to accept or reject each thought. If we do not take responsibility for our thoughts, we are fated to remain merely their puppet and parrot.
Just as learning to control thoughts during meditation takes considerable time and effort, so controlling our thoughts during the day also has to be practised, with determination, patience and persistence. Fortunately, meditation not only provides us with our spiritual treasure, but also with the means to protect that treasure.
Just as working out in the gym gives us the physical strength and conditioning to better perform all our physical tasks throughout the day, so the discipline, concentration and discrimination we practise during our meditation, are precisely the qualities we need to strengthen and protect our inner life while going about our busy lives in the outer world.
First we must practise detachment from the thought process. Most of us feel not only that we have thoughts, but even that we are our thoughts, a common error which leads only to suffering. Not only are we not our thoughts, they are not ours at all. The term used in English is absolutely correct: we entertain thoughts. Like any guests who come to our door, it is up to us whether to invite them in, and whether we will entertain them or not. Just as we do not allow just anyone to come into our house – especially not suspicious or dangerous characters – we need to be very careful which thoughts we spend our precious time with.
(to be continued…)