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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.
Karmic rebirth may or may not be linear but reaping what we sow is. Can't reap the corn before it's planted.
The universe has become more moral since we've come around and there could be others that have morals as well.
If the universe was without morality, I would guess that we would be too.
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.
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
"Don't be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they can not touch your soul.Fear only God, who can destroy both your soul and body in hell." - Jesus
The Tibetans teach fear of a lower rebirth (in a burning or frigid hell, as a hungry ghost, or as an unintelligent animal). It's a major part of the Lamrim practice.
My take is that Jesus spoke metaphorically to get through to everyone around him. He took what they knew and used it as a bridge to his teachings.
That's how it seems to me too. There's a very popular and often cherry-picked verse from Jesus about "Nobody gets to the Father except through me". A lot of times the next few verses get left out as he basically says that to go through him means to be a decent person whether you heard of him or not.