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Does meditation help you think straight?

One of my hobbies is thinking sideways and finding alternative modes of being. Meditation helps us think straight . . . or do we just find ourselves more open?

What do you think? [not a trick question] :)
Invincible_summer

Comments

  • Omar067Omar067 Veteran
    edited August 2013
    I think it gives you a choice in the matter of decisions that we make in life. It gives us the choice to truly decide how we want to treat people ect. It's awareness. When you have that you won't just react to a situation in away that you will regret later on. Some people don't have the ability to choose, instead they just react. Meditation gives you the choice to choose what you do in life. That's basically its purpose.
    Invincible_summerpersonkarmablues
  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran
    I think that "thinking straight" is a simplistic way of putting it. The term "thinking straight" sort of suggests that there is a deluded form of acting/thinking and meditation pushes us away from that. While that's not inaccurate, I think that it makes it seem like a very linear process when it isn't.

    I agree with @Omar067. For me, meditation is more about cultivating a deeper awareness of our "selves" and our reactions to things around us. It doesn't tell us what is right/wrong, but it helps us see right, wrong, and the grey areas in between.
  • instead they just react
    So would you say it also expands the base of genuine potential? In other words not being prone to react without consideration or the space to allow listening and acceptance, we react before having received . . .

    Is thinking straight and linear not our goal? Should we rather be flexible and able to change our hard won and certain opinions?

    In a sense is 'right thought', not something static?
    Invincible_summer
  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    edited August 2013
    lobster said:

    One of my hobbies is thinking sideways and finding alternative modes of being. Meditation helps us think straight . . . or do we just find ourselves more open?

    What do you think? [not a trick question] :)

    Since you ask, I'll give you my honest answer.

    Does meditation help you think straight? Not really. There are plenty of crooks and miserable people who sometimes use meditation itself to scam people, often with the best of intentions. Never once has someone said, "You know, I started off taking your money by convincing you I'm the Great Enlightened Master but after all that meditation I see that's just wrong. Here's your money back."

    As for open...open to what? New ideas? New ways of thinking? Couldn't prove it by the way many monks and temples and meditating people have acted over the centuries. A lifetime of meditation makes you very, very good at meditating, that's all. The same can be said for anything you practice at for endless hours. And this is from someone like myself who follows a Zen meditation practice over the years.

    Whatever mind you sit down with, that's the same mind you stand back up with and carry with you through the day. Meditation is only a tool in our effort to do something with this mind. Like a hammer, you can pound away at all the nails you want but unless you put effort into building something, all you do is end up with a lot of bent nails and a satisfied feeling because of all the work you think happened.


  • DandelionDandelion London Veteran
    Yes. Meditation is like a holiday for the mind.
    Barra
  • GuiGui Veteran
    I think meditation brings us open to this moment. To just this.
  • IMO, meditation is what you expect of it and what you accept from it. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Lay Buddhists fret waaaaay too much over formal, sitting meditation. Again, JMO.
    Cinorjer
  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran
    MaryAnne said:

    IMO, meditation is what you expect of it and what you accept from it. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Lay Buddhists fret waaaaay too much over formal, sitting meditation. Again, JMO.

    It's true that Western Buddhists tend to emphasize sitting meditation more than lay Buddhists in other parts of the world. I don't see why that's a bad thing, however. Some Buddhists make merit-making the centre of their practice. Some focus on meditation.

    I think people "fret" over it because it's a central part of their practice. They want to know that they're not "wasting their time" and that they're "doing it right."

    Of course, these are all problematic ways to approach meditation, but they come up with anyone who seriously gets into the practice.


  • To the extent that meditation improves concentration it will also help you to think more clearly. Nonetheless, thinking belongs in the realm of concepts and intellectual knowledge. I believe meditation is ultimately supposed to raise one's awareness of reality beyond the realm of concepts to "seeing things as they are". That means we develop the ability to realize the nature of reality such as emptiness or impermanence through direct experience.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited August 2013
    Meditation makes the mind stop chewing on itself like a dog with a hotspot. With a more settled mind we can see the qualities of awareness that are always there. This act can shift suffering to wonderment.

    You can tell you are only conceptual about this topic by whether you say "got that... what's next?" whereas you could be amazed and in a state of wonderment.
    lobster
  • Hmm...I think meditation helps somewhat, but so far I don't see a HUGE impact because of meditation. I feel like following and putting what I learn from Buddhism into my daily life helps out more. Or maybe I just don't notice what meditation does lol
    lobster
  • Sabre said:

    I'm not sure what you mean with thinking straight or sideways, but I do know it makes me think less - which is in itself already a big gift.

    :om:

    Sideways may involve lateral thinking
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lateral_thinking

    Straight may involve clarity or non delusional, rather than logical . . .
    http://buddhaspace.blogspot.co.uk/2008/08/e-book-review-intuitive-awareness-by.html
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    I started meditating before I got into Buddhism. I needed to be able to sleep and react better during the daytime hours.
    That said, I'm not so sure thinking "straight" is an ideal goal for me. I do (seem) to see things more clearly when I meditate regularly and practice mindfulness. I have a slightly easier time seeing things more as they are and less with my perception and story put over it. If that is thinking straight, then perhaps. But I know plenty of other people who think my brand of thinking is anything but the straight and right/clear way to see the world.
  • BarraBarra soto zennie wandering in a cloud in beautiful, bucolic Victoria BC, on the wacky left coast of Canada Veteran
    lobster said:

    Sabre said:

    I'm not sure what you mean with thinking straight or sideways, but I do know it makes me think less - which is in itself already a big gift.

    :om:

    Sideways may involve lateral thinking
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lateral_thinking

    Straight may involve clarity or non delusional, rather than logical . . .
    http://buddhaspace.blogspot.co.uk/2008/08/e-book-review-intuitive-awareness-by.html
    OK now I understand why you say that lateral thinking is a hobby. It is actually a good exercise and a practical skill in day to day life. The thing to guard against, as a Buddhist, is getting off on how clever you are to be able to do this. It simply is what it is.
    I find it a curious assumption that the goal of meditation is straight thinking. I would actually say the opposite. The goal would be that the thinking is not what it's about. The goal is more to let go of thinking.
  • Barra said:


    I find it a curious assumption that the goal of meditation is straight thinking. I would actually say the opposite. The goal would be that the thinking is not what it's about. The goal is more to let go of thinking.

    I would say, thinking sideways, your opposite thinking is straight thinking, don't you think?
    ;)
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran
    Namaste,

    For me, meditation helps me think in a more calm and rational way than if I don't meditate. I'm naturally a very reactive and emotional person. Regular meditation has helped me catch my emotions before I speak (well, most of the time, though I still DO have my moments :P) and to think through HOW I say things as well as WHAT I way.

    I know that I have dealt a lot differently with my illness than what I would have even a year ago. And I firmly believe it is because of my regular meditation sessions.

    In metta,
    Raven
    lobster
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    lobster said:

    Meditation helps us think straight . . . or do we just find ourselves more open?

    I find meditation helps me take thinking less seriously.
    ;)
    lobster
  • Thinking has its place, seriously . . .
    For example without serious thought, no Internet . . . however thinking can be overrated when for example dancing . . . :clap:
    However dancing is a great way of being . . . have I gone side ways again? :o

    The reason I mention these three states of 'mind' together is because one flows into another.
    We are . . . we think . . . Sideways again . . . :wave:
    dhammachickericcris10sen
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    lobster said:

    ..no Internet . .

    What a lovely thought! :p
    lobsterdhammachick
  • wrathfuldeitywrathfuldeity Veteran
    edited August 2013
    MaryAnne said:

    IMO, meditation is what you expect of it and what you accept from it. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Lay Buddhists fret waaaaay too much over formal, sitting meditation. Again, JMO.

    ditto...

    it can be a escape, a distraction, an ego enhancement, reset button, an abode, a pov...on an on....

    and it can help you think in circles or cycles
    lobster
  • NevermindNevermind Bitter & Hateful Veteran
    lobster said:

    One of my hobbies is thinking sideways and finding alternative modes of being. Meditation helps us think straight . . . or do we just find ourselves more open?

    What do you think? [not a trick question] :)

    Meditation may do all sorts of things to a mind, I don't know, but the best benefit I understand is that it develops integration. Integration may best be described as 'open'.
    lobster
  • Integration may best be described as 'open'.
    I think - it has been known - the word open thinking or thinking with an open heart is the purpose and indeed outcome of meditation and practice. Meditation leads to integrated thinking, whilst most of us including nihilists are moving towards disintegration . . .

    So the word 'straight thinking' as others have suggested, with its implications of linear logic, is not the purpose of meditation, though perhaps that too may be a developed capacity?

    Will I still be able to talk to trees? Or is that a little too open . . . :wave:
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited August 2013
    In the text The Straight Path, Zen Master Anzan Hoshin quotes the following from Zen Master Dogen's Fukanzazengi, or How Everyone Can Sit:

    Think of not-thinking. How do you think of not-thinking? Be before thinking. These are the basics of zazen.

    The Sensei unfolds the meaning of this passage in this way:

    This means: No opposites. Zen is not a matter of thinking (shiryo) or of shutting out thought (fushiryo) but of being Before Thinking (hishiryo). Before Thinking means to be prior to experiences in the same way that a mirror is always prior to what it shows even at the moment of showing it. We cannot be anything that we are aware of. We are always the context of whatever content arises. When we release all of our states and our avoidance and identification then we are always right there at the very moment that the world arises, right at this pointless point. Bring together every aspect of mind, everything hidden and everything obvious, and allow each to resolve itself into the knowing of it. This is zazen, the shikan-taza of all Awakened Ones. http://wwzc.org/dharma-text/thinking-about-not-thinking
    And of course, this clarity allows you to think straight, to think sideways, to think across, up or down, frontside, backside, inside the box, outside the box, no box, before the box, above the box, around the box etc, etc, etc! In whichever way is appropriate for the situation! In a manner that is skillful and not unskillful!


    lobsterkarmablues
  • I think the OP is more of a secular question and arguably not all that relative to Buddhism. The purpose of the 4 dhyana/meditation method the Buddha discovered is to awaken to the absolute (liberated mind in which birth is destroyed).
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited August 2013
    I think there is already straight thinking but we are afraid with our egos to realize all the messages. Our ego knows that it would lose everything if it truly analyzed our layers of assumptions.

    The nature of the mind is to see clearly what is there. It is like tying shoes. The penny drops and all the sudden a young child knows how to do it. All the pressure to learn motivates one towards concentration and experimenting with the task. Hey if we could learn to tie a shoe then we can follow the path and examine the knots of our own mind.
  • seeker242 said:


    . . . This means: No opposites . . .

    Straight up. In this sense the truth is not a side or a polarity for contention. This is why it can not be spoken but only alluded to. In modern parlance it has a quantum nature, being the resolution of opposites from a state of awareness . . .
    http://phys.org/news163670588.html

    In some systems we have Celtic riddles, Zen koans or paradoxical assertions such as a 'thought without thinking'. Other examples are expressed in dance, music and poems. However many the straight thoughts, they are all simultaneous lines out to a circle. How wide is the circle, how simultaneous? How denied of logic . . . is a wrong that is right and a right that is nowhere . . .

    To awaken the sleeper we must first dream of waking . . .
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    MaryAnne said:


    Lay Buddhists fret waaaaay too much over formal, sitting meditation. Again, JMO.

    I'm not sure. In my experience most lay Buddhists don't sit anywhere near enough.
    karmablues
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