The Two Features of Thoughts

Most people identify with their thoughts to such an extent that they believe they are the accumulation of all their thoughts, and are proud of this. In reality, thoughts are merely mental programming that has been acquired since birth.

When we start to investigate the nature of thoughts and consciousness, we need to analyse and then rest though meditation: we focus on the breath (or a mantra) to cut through these thoughts and then come to stillness.

If we have been instructed and trained in recognising the nature of consciousness – which is the realisation of pure emptiness – then, when one of the negative emotions occurs, emptiness and wisdom arise simultaneously, and the emotional thoughts dissolve immediately.

It is said that the more emotions and thoughts, the more the emptiness: thoughts no longer hinder, as they have become an aid in the moment of recognition.

A problem arises when we become stuck in the beginners’ stage, continuing to think that thoughts are the problem and that we mustn’t have them. Thoughts are not the problem: holding on to thoughts is the problem. There comes a stage when we have to drop the method, or the method becomes a hinderance.

However, as Chogyam Trungpa said, “Never forget the beginner stage.” We have to be honest about what we are experiencing, rather than assuming that we have arrived. We need to go back to basics, constantly.

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