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Thoughts Are Bad VS Thoughts Are Good

JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran
edited January 12 in Philosophy

Are thoughts bad or good?

In Zen and Thai Theravada traditions I learned thoughts are bad, that they lead to suffering.

In the New Kadampa tradition I've learned that thoughts are good (analytical meditation), though sometimes bad (placement meditation).

Comments

  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran

    Plenty of both. Not all my thoughts are bad; not all my thoughts are good.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    A thought is a thing and a thing is a thought....

    "I am just a thought who thinks I am thinking I am just a thought"

    And to Shake [a] spear[e]

    "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so"

    One could say : "We are what we think......But we are not our thoughts !"
    ("Twin Verses" Dhammapada :) )

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    Thoughts are the embryonic manifestations of Karma.
    How they manifest, and what then follows is up to you.
    But it usually entails More Karma....

    ;)

    JaySonTiggerNirvana
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @JaySon said:> In Zen and Thai Theravada traditions I learned thoughts are bad, that they lead to suffering.

    Taking thoughts too seriously can lead to suffering, but they are really just thoughts, they come and go.

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    For thoughts to lead to suffering, first we must follow.

    When finding myself following too closely I try to remind myself of a little quote I heard once.

    The mind is like a garden and thoughts are like seeds. We can grow flowers or we can grow weeds

    JaySonTigger
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    It's -45F windchill here this morning. There is suffering without following thought, :lol: Your eyes and nostrils freeze shut whether you think about it or not.

    Tigger
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:

    @JaySon said: In Zen and Thai Theravada traditions I learned thoughts are bad, that they lead to suffering.

    Taking thoughts too seriously can lead to suffering, but they are really just thoughts, they come and go.

    It is surprising how often people let far-away entities insert thoughts into their heads to be unhappy about. People read the newspaper about immigrants, or they hear about a neighbours acquaintaince who was ill-treated by her boss, and they get attached. Their image of a perfect world gets disturbed. But in the end it is all in people's heads... if they were to stay serene and dispassionate, it would not touch them so and they could find happiness more easily.

    TiggerJaySon
  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran

    @karasti said:
    It's -45F windchill here this morning. There is suffering without following thought, :lol: Your eyes and nostrils freeze shut whether you think about it or not.

    You should move down here to Florida. High 70s and beautiful here!

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @JaySon :lol: But you don't have snow on Christmas. And I can't ski or snowboard there! I love south Florida, we often take a trip to the Keys in April when we can't handle winter anymore. We went in June last year and the blooming flowers and trees were amazing. Lots of good thoughts in Florida! Though this morning it was perfectly clear and air is never as fresh as it is on a morning like this. Plus both the full moon and the sunrise were going on at the same time. Beautiful!

    Tigger
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    I think it's understandable to be disturbed by things that happen close to you, or that are personal. It's not so easy to be dispassionate about those. But I think it's very fair to point out to people not to attach to things that are far away. It's the first step, learn to live in the real world, not the artificial one built up around you.

    And the real world is your cupboard, the walls of your house, the beach, the dunes and nature reserve. The trees that you meet out on your walk, they are a lot more real to you than Donald Trump, who you cannot do anything about. Breathe their air, be calm and limit Trump's ownership of your brain to the minuscule spot he deserves.

    TiggerJaySonlobster
  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran

    @karasti said:
    @JaySon :lol: But you don't have snow on Christmas. And I can't ski or snowboard there! I love south Florida, we often take a trip to the Keys in April when we can't handle winter anymore. We went in June last year and the blooming flowers and trees were amazing. Lots of good thoughts in Florida! Though this morning it was perfectly clear and air is never as fresh as it is on a morning like this. Plus both the full moon and the sunrise were going on at the same time. Beautiful!

    Excellent! I lived in northeast Tennessee for about 5 years, on the border of Virginia by the Smoky Mountains. Not as much snow as you get, but those snowy rolling hills were pretty!

  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    The trees that you meet out on your walk, they are a lot more real to you than Donald Trump, who you cannot do anything about. Breathe their air, be calm and limit Trump's ownership of your brain to the minuscule spot he deserves.

    Politics rotting your brain can be taken care of pretty easily with the Lamrim meditations on Equanimity and Equalizing.

    In past lives, Donald and Hillary were your son and your daughter, and in another life they were your father and your mother, and in another life they were your best friend and lover.

  • @ karasti said:" both the full moon and the sunrise were going on at the same time. Beautiful! "

    Thank you for that short and simple description which made me connect with that experience. My mind went quite still and quiet for a few moments as I reflected on it.

    What a lovely thought it is to know that such an experience was being had by someone who really did appreciate the simple and amazing experiences that can be had glimpsing natural phenomena of the world.

    It makes a change to all those awful thoughts and experiences crammed down our optic and auditory nerves by news channels on goggle boxes, touch screens, and all those other media-channeling devices that are everywhere these days - such as in Taxis and even in the public toilet I used the other day - that make us think the world is such a horrific place!

    lobsterkarasti
  • techietechie India Veteran
    edited January 13

    @SpinyNorman said:

    @JaySon said:> In Zen and Thai Theravada traditions I learned thoughts are bad, that they lead to suffering.

    Taking thoughts too seriously can lead to suffering, but they are really just thoughts, they come and go.

    I have to disagree. Thoughts r extremely powerful, they cause us to react. If they were harmless no one would try to control them. Even a trivial thought or memory could cause violent reactions or we may imagine things etc. Thoughts r a nuisance sometimes.

  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran

    Clearly the Buddha taught to control the mind as if it were a wild steed in need of breaking, the ability to focus on virtuous thoughts or no thoughts at all or shift focus away from non-virtuous thoughts, at will.

  • Will_BakerWill_Baker Vermont Veteran

    Neither. They are just thoughts.
    -Agreed, and to the OP, I am saying this from the perspective of a Zen Buddhist...

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    @JaySon said:

    @Kerome said:
    The trees that you meet out on your walk, they are a lot more real to you than Donald Trump, who you cannot do anything about. Breathe their air, be calm and limit Trump's ownership of your brain to the minuscule spot he deserves.

    Politics rotting your brain can be taken care of pretty easily with the Lamrim meditations on Equanimity and Equalizing.

    In past lives, Donald and Hillary were your son and your daughter, and in another life they were your father and your mother, and in another life they were your best friend and lover.

    That's how I see rebirth. As constant and non-linear birth.

    But that's just a thought passing through.

    JaySon
  • @techie said:

    I have to disagree. Thoughts r extremely powerful, they cause us to react. If they were harmless no one would try to control them. Even a trivial thought or memory could cause violent reactions or we may imagine things etc. Thoughts r a nuisance sometimes.

    Indeed.

    ... mind control, mood augmentation, reframing, self hypnosis, that sort of thing, can be beneficial to those who require a better bunch of thoughts.

    Cults, pathological mind controllers eg Emperor of all the Americas DJ Thump I, are popular as they tell people how to think ... o:) Obviously being brain washed is not for everyone. :p

    So what is the best way towards peace and clarity? I would suggest it is to lessen the impact of stray thought blimps that may be good or bad, emotionally strong or weak or even hostile or euphoric ... Here is my preferred training tactic ...

  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran

    @lobster said:
    ... mind control, mood augmentation, reframing, self hypnosis, that sort of thing, can be beneficial to those who require a better bunch of thoughts.

    Having gotten 5 certifications in hypnosis and NLP, I have come to the conclusion that they are only tools to mold a better "I".

    Since the "I" is a made up idea you have of yourself, it's malleable--your self image.

    When I came to this conclusion, I knew it wasn't the right path to true joy and liberation.

    lobsterKerome
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran
    edited January 13

    Some guru's are master hypnotists - it can be a useful skill, to help yourself and others.

  • upekkaupekka Veteran

    when do we know about the thought?
    before it is arisen or after it is arisen?
    if we know there is a thought, that means at the present moment (at the knowing moment) the said thought is no more = this is the mindfulness
    if it is good or bad can we do anything about it? no, because it is already gone
    if we cling to it (thinking it is permenant/nithya) then we start thinking on it/cetana
    to know the said thought is already gone is wisdom

    if one is wise one let go of the said thought

    until another thought arise there is a fraction of emptiness

    what we have to do is increase that fraction of emptiness

    Lonely_TravellerTigger
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @techie said:

    @SpinyNorman said:

    @JaySon said:> In Zen and Thai Theravada traditions I learned thoughts are bad, that they lead to suffering.

    Taking thoughts too seriously can lead to suffering, but they are really just thoughts, they come and go.

    I have to disagree. Thoughts r extremely powerful, they cause us to react. If they were harmless no one would try to control them. Even a trivial thought or memory could cause violent reactions or we may imagine things etc. Thoughts r a nuisance sometimes.

    A good argument for not taking thoughts so seriously, seeing them like clouds in the sky or like waves breaking on the shore.

    lobsterJaySon
  • techietechie India Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:

    @techie said:

    @SpinyNorman said:

    @JaySon said:> In Zen and Thai Theravada traditions I learned thoughts are bad, that they lead to suffering.

    Taking thoughts too seriously can lead to suffering, but they are really just thoughts, they come and go.

    I have to disagree. Thoughts r extremely powerful, they cause us to react. If they were harmless no one would try to control them. Even a trivial thought or memory could cause violent reactions or we may imagine things etc. Thoughts r a nuisance sometimes.

    A good argument for not taking thoughts so seriously, seeing them like clouds in the sky or like waves breaking on the shore.

    What I mean is, thoughts sort of grab us before we know it.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator
    edited January 14

    @techie said:I have to disagree. Thoughts r extremely powerful, they cause us to react.

    Who is the thinker? Who has the choice whether to react, or how?

    If they were harmless no one would try to control them.

    Who is trying to control them? Who is letting them come under an outside control?

    Even a trivial thought or memory could cause violent reactions or we may imagine things etc.

    Who is reacting violently to the thought or memory? Do they have a choice whether to react in that way or differently - or not?
    Who is imagining things? Should they not test the veracity of that imagination, or do they dumbly choose to believe it?

    Thoughts r a nuisance sometimes.

    So are some members sometimes, but hey, I let it go.... ;)

    Lonely_Traveller
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited January 14

    @JaySon said:
    Are thoughts bad or good?

    In Zen and Thai Theravada traditions I learned thoughts are bad, that they lead to suffering.

    So does life but life shouldn't be labeled as bad. Just as one can learn to live a wholesome life, one can learn to think wholesome thoughts or at least not to act on unwholesome thought.

    In the New Kadampa tradition I've learned that thoughts are good (analytical meditation), though sometimes bad (placement meditation).

    Thoughts are tools. We could ask the same question about fire. It can burn us or it can help illuminate. It depends on our experience and skill.

    lobsterJaySon
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @Kerome I don't disagree overall, but withholding that level of love and compassion from people who aren't close to us is exactly how we end up justifying killing civilians in war and ignoring the plight of people around the world. All in the name of "taking care of our own" because it's easy to choose to not be close to those other people. But in Buddhism, I think, we are (in part) working to see "those people" as every bit as important as our own parents or children.

    lobsternamarupa
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran
    edited January 14

    @karasti said:
    But in Buddhism, I think, we are (in part) working to see "those people" as every bit as important as our own parents or children.

    I don't disagree that we need to show compassion to those around us, but trying to reach everyone is a bit Mahayanist isn't it? The whole idea of trying to encompass, to save everybody in the whole world. Compassion is definitely important, but that compassion should be practical, it should be beneficial to those surrounding you, then the rest will take care of itself. There is no need to turn yourself into a 'love and compassion broadcaster' that spouts compassion at everything you hear about - in fact that's just likely to tire you out, and it is best left in limited quantities for metta practice.

    I'm minded of Ramana Maharshi's words, "your own self-realisation is the greatest gift you can give to the world". It seems one actual real enlightened being is more use than a million chanting to awaken bodhicitta.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I am not a Theravadin Buddhist, so yes, the Mahayana path is a big part of my practice. It's not about some ideal that you can somehow reach the entire world. It's about expanding your own compassion to everyone, which you can most certainly do without somehow burning out yourself. You can only do so much as far as action goes, and watching for whatever opportunities present is most definitely helpful. But developing compassion in your mind, even for far away people, is immensely helpful. It has never once tired me out. Quite the opposite, in fact. Too many people disregard other people and that is how we continue to justify behaviors and actions that harm people.

    lobster
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Thoughts= Tools to be skillfully used by awareness...

    KeromeJaySonLonely_TravellerTigger
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    @karasti said:
    But developing compassion in your mind, even for far away people, is immensely helpful. It has never once tired me out. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    That is interesting, because I've tried this and after a while it tires me. Can you describe what you do?

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Tonglen is a major part of my practice, as taught by my teacher several years ago. We do it as a sanga group as well. But you always start and focus on someone close to you who it is easy to be compassionate for, and then expand as you get comfortable to challenging people, then entire groups of people and then eventually all of humanity.

    JaySonlobster
  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran

    @Shoshin said:
    Thoughts= Tools to be skillfully used by awareness...

    I'm guessing the Buddha meant to guard your mind against the defilements, to identify them and work to purify the mind?

    Shoshin
  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran

    @karasti said:
    Tonglen is a major part of my practice, as taught by my teacher several years ago. We do it as a sanga group as well. But you always start and focus on someone close to you who it is easy to be compassionate for, and then expand as you get comfortable to challenging people, then entire groups of people and then eventually all of humanity.

    That's the same Metta meditation Ajahn Brahm teaches.

    I also like the Tibetan Metta meditation where you imagine taking all the suffering from all beings everywhere. You'd think it would have a bad effect on you but it's just the opposite.

  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran
    edited January 15

    @JaySon said:

    @karasti said:
    It's -45F windchill here this morning. There is suffering without following thought, :lol: Your eyes and nostrils freeze shut whether you think about it or not.

    You should move down here to Florida. High 70s and beautiful here!

    Meanwhile in Australia....

    JaySonkarastiShoshin
  • wojciechwojciech the desert Explorer

    From a Zen perspective I have never heard thoughts being labeled as "bad"

    We are actually encouraged to arouse the thought of enlightenment and devote ourselves to practice. Thoughts can only be good or bad if we slip into these subjective labels. I do not agree that all thoughts are bad, or lead to suffering. Compassion, joy, love, acts of kindness often rely on a thought to develop and come to fruition.

    Labeling things "bad" or "good" seems troublesome to me...I'm reminded of the Zen story of a farmer who had a run away horse.

    The farmers only horse ran away and his neighbor came to give him the news, saying, "how terrible!" The farmer replied, "Maybe." The next day the farmer's horse came back with three other wild horses. The neighbor came to his house saying, "Such good luck!" The farmer's reply was "Maybe."

    Then the farmer's son was riding one of the new horses and fell and broke his leg. The same neighbor came to console the farmer telling him that his son's broken leg is a horrible incident. The farmer's reply? "Maybe" Then a week later the country's army came to the village looking for young men to draft into the newly begun war. Because the farmer's son had a broken leg, he was unfit for draft into the army. The neighbor came to congratulate the farmer on how great things turned out for him and his son, to this the farmer replied, "Maybe."

    @JaySon said:
    Are thoughts bad or good?

    Maybe. :smile:

    Lonely_Travellerlobster
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    @JaySon said:

    @karasti said:
    Tonglen is a major part of my practice, as taught by my teacher several years ago. We do it as a sanga group as well. But you always start and focus on someone close to you who it is easy to be compassionate for, and then expand as you get comfortable to challenging people, then entire groups of people and then eventually all of humanity.

    That's the same Metta meditation Ajahn Brahm teaches.

    I also like the Tibetan Metta meditation where you imagine taking all the suffering from all beings everywhere. You'd think it would have a bad effect on you but it's just the opposite.

    I think that's because we are kind of acting like trees during this type of meditation. Taking in the suffering, transforming it with our breath and breathing out metta.

    I usually come away from it fairly refreshed.

    JaySonTiggerkarasti
  • NirvanaNirvana aka BUBBA   `     `     ` `     ` Outa Range Fridays thru Sundays South Carolina, USA Veteran

    @JaySon said:
    In Zen and Thai Theravada traditions I learned thoughts are bad, that they lead to suffering.

    In the New Kadampa tradition I've learned that thoughts are good (analytical meditation), though sometimes bad (placement meditation).

    Thoughts, though intrinsically neither good nor bad, are certainly not real, lacking in any quantifiable substance and often quite fickle. What matters is for us to be always reminding ourselves that there is a huge divide, on the one hand, between what we think and what, on the other hand, truly is (das Ding an sich). In that respect, I suspect that the former position, that thoughts are "bad," is perhaps much closer to the truth most of the time.

    That is why we need to cleanse the mind daily by whatever meditation comes most naturally to us. And Metta is the easiest and can be most expansive.

    lobsterJaySonTigger
  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran

    @David said:

    @JaySon said:

    @karasti said:
    Tonglen is a major part of my practice, as taught by my teacher several years ago. We do it as a sanga group as well. But you always start and focus on someone close to you who it is easy to be compassionate for, and then expand as you get comfortable to challenging people, then entire groups of people and then eventually all of humanity.

    That's the same Metta meditation Ajahn Brahm teaches.

    I also like the Tibetan Metta meditation where you imagine taking all the suffering from all beings everywhere. You'd think it would have a bad effect on you but it's just the opposite.

    I think that's because we are kind of acting like trees during this type of meditation. Taking in the suffering, transforming it with our breath and breathing out metta.

    I usually come away from it fairly refreshed.

    It feels good to me too. I was a little scared to do it at first, but now I do it often. Especially during days when the defilements are strong in me. On those days I wouldn't wish the anger or fear on my worst enemy. So it makes me want to practice the taking.

    Tigger
  • @JaySon said:
    ... On those days I wouldn't wish the anger or fear on my worst enemy.

    Tsk, tsk. :o

    Perfectly useful anger and fear can be offered with prostrations to ANY Buddha who due to their 'metta field' is able to transform it into 'food' for one of the six realms ...
    http://www.buddhistdoor.com/OldWeb/bdoor/0006e/sources/realms.htm

    JaySonKeromeTigger
  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran

    @lobster said:

    @JaySon said:
    ... On those days I wouldn't wish the anger or fear on my worst enemy.

    Tsk, tsk. :o

    Perfectly useful anger and fear can be offered with prostrations to ANY Buddha who due to their 'metta field' is able to transform it into 'food' for one of the six realms ...
    http://www.buddhistdoor.com/OldWeb/bdoor/0006e/sources/realms.htm

    I like that. My wife and I should fight more often. More food for all!

  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran

    I'll be like... "Honey, we're creating food for the six realms right now."

    Tigger
  • @JaySon said:
    I'll be like... "Honey, we're creating food for the six realms right now."

    You and your wifes compassion is boundless. Too kind. :)

    JaySonKeromeDavidTigger
  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran

    @lobster said:

    @JaySon said:
    I'll be like... "Honey, we're creating food for the six realms right now."

    You and your wifes compassion is boundless. Too kind. :)

    Now, I can do no wrong. Thanks lobster.

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