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Writing Down Your Mind

Just pay attention. It's the key.

by
Charlie Martin

Bio

January 28, 2014 - 8:00 am

No, I won’t repeat them here; you can go back to some previous columns.

But writing these columns means that I do have to think about Buddhism as well as not-think about Buddhism, and I think it helps. In particular, I’ve noticed over and over again that my own questions and a lot of my own practice, and a lot of the questions I’ve answered for others, have come down to “suffering”, duhkha, and the roots of suffering, which today I think can be simply stated as “the desire for pleasure”, “the desire to become”, and “the desire to erase”. That is, we want to get pleasant experiences; we want to make things be the way we want them; and, we want to erase from our world that displease us. Especially in the last year, I’ve found myself doing a practice of paying attention to my thoughts, identifying ones that agitated me as duhkha, and looking to see which of the roots of duhlha underlie the thought.

All that means being attentive to those thoughts, which is really what meditation is all about: “sitting quietly, doing nothing” and when a thought comes by, observing it, greeting it, and then dismissing it, letting it go on its way instead of dwelling on it.

When you are meditating, especially as a beginner — which is to say the first couple minutes of meditation no matter how long you’ve been practicing — one of the ways of dwelling on thoughts you notice is that there are some thoughts you really jump back from. There’s an internal voice, a censor, that looks at a thought and says “Oooh, bad, you’re not supposed to think that! Stop thinking that! Stoppit!”

Of course, that’s the “desire to erase” and a root of duhkha in itself.

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All Comments   (8)
All Comments   (8)
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Charlie, I recommend -highly Zelazny's Lord of Light for a different take on the Buddha
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
I *love* that book.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
"After it was over, a woman came up to me and asked if we could talk. She was a psychiatrist but also a science writer and said, "You said that you live in a flat emotional world—that is, that you treat everybody the same. That’s Buddhist." I don't know anything about Buddhism but she continued on and said, "It's too bad that the people close to you are so disappointed in being close to you. Any learned Buddhist would think this was great." I don't know what to do with that."

An interesting passage ftom this article:

http://m.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/01/life-as-a-nonviolent-psychopath/282271/

It strikes me as bogus he's defining a "warrior" psyche as psychopathic, I'll tell you that.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
I just read that article myself, and have kindled the book. I don't know what I think about it yet.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
it gives them a place to go. It’s as if, being written down, they don’t have to be on my mind any longer.

That reminds me very much of the approach in "Getting Things Done". I think your columns are converging. ;-)
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, there's only one guy here. But yes, and in fact I'm noticing the same thing with my steno-pad GTD: things don't stay on my mind once they're written down, and I can return to whatever it is I'm trying to do.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
"...I’ve been a Buddhist for something getting close to 50 years..."

Curiosity has me by the throat. Have you in all this time ever experienced, or as some have it achieved, satori? Or is this a really dumb question?

43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
43 weeks ago
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