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Writing Down Your Mind

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.