CHAPTER TEN - Right Thinking
(from "The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching" by Thich Nhat Hanh)
The followings are Thay's precious messages in this Chapter and my commentaries.
1. "When Right View is solid in us, we have Right Thinking."
⇒ If the subject (thinker) is mindful and has the right view (we are all the same, namely the whole cosmos), s/he (non-separate self) has right thinking. So, there is no danger of wrong thinking based on the wrong view (I am special, separate) by separate self.
2. "Thinking is the speech of our mind."
⇒ Thinking is the mental action. (Speech is the verbal action.)
3. "Right Thinking is needed to take us down the path of Right Action."
⇒ Right thinking leads us to the right speech and action. So, right thinking is the positive thinking or the positive motivation without ill feeling.
4. "Right Thinking reflects the way things are. Wrong thinking causes us to see in an "upside-down way"."
⇒ In order to see the reality as it is (suchness), we need to stop thinking and be mindful. So, right thinking is possible when we are mindful after stopping thinking.
5. "When we concentrate on our breathing, we bring body and mind back together and become whole again."
⇒ If the subject is separate self (ego), mind and body are not unified. If the subject is non-separate self (true self), mind and body are unified. Mindfulness (eg. conscious breathing) is the key.
6. "Descartes said, "I think, therefore I am". Thay said, "I think, therefore I am not"."
⇒ Descartes means that "ego thinks, therefore ego is". Thay means that "ego thinks, therefore true self is not".
7. "Mindful breathing helps us stop being preoccupied by sorrows of the past and anxieties about the future. It helps us be in touch with life in the present moment."
⇒ Life is only available in the here and the now. So, we need to be mindful always.
8. "In the first stage of meditative concentration, both kinds of thinking (initial thought and developing thought) are present. In the second stage, neither is there. We are in deeper contact with reality, free of words and concepts."
⇒ We need to stop thinking to touch the wonders of life. Words and concepts are obstacles to attain insight.
9. "There are four practices related to Right Thinking:
(1) "Are You Sure?":
Ask yourself this question again and again. Wrong perceptions cause incorrect thinking and unnecessary suffering.
⇒ Be sure!
(2) "What Am I Doing?":
"Sometimes I ask one of my students, "What are you doing?" to help him release his think about the past or the future and return to the present moment. Asking yourself, What am I doing? will help you overcome the habit of wanting to complete things quickly. When your thinking is not carrying you away and you do things in mindfulness, you will be happy and a resource for many others."
⇒ Do just one thing in mindfulness!
(3) "Hello, Habit Energy. ":
"Our way of acting depends on our way of thinking, and our way of thinking depends on our habit energies. When we recognize this, we only need to say, "Hello, habit energy," and make good friends with our habitual patterns of thinking and acting. When we can accept these ingrained thoughts and not feel guilty about them, they will lose much of their power over us."
⇒ Make good friends with your Habit Energy!
(4) "Bodhichitta (mind of love)"
"Our "mind of love" is the deep wish to cultivate understanding in ourselves in order to bring happiness to many beings. It is the motivating force for the practice of mindful living. With bodhichitta at the foundation of our thinking, everything we do or say will help others be liberated."
⇒ Have the deep wish to cultivate understanding in ourselves in order to bring happiness to many beings!
10. The Buddha offered many ways to help us to transform troublesome thoughts. Two examples are as follows:
(1) to replace an unwholesome thought with a wholesome one by "changing the peg."
(2) to keep unwholesome thoughts from arising by living in a
wholesome environment, a community that practices mindful living.
⇒ There are many ways but we need to transform ourselves from separate self (ego) to non-separate self (true self) at the end.
11. "Right Thinking is thinking that is in accord with Right View. When you practice Right View and Right Thinking, you dwell deeply in the present moment, where you can touch seeds of joy, peace, and liberation, heal and transform your suffering, and be truly present for many others."
⇒ For that, we need to practice Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.
12. "Think non-thinking" is a well-known statement in Zen.":
When Priest Yaoshan was sitting in meditation, a monk asked,
“What do you think about, sitting in steadfast composure?”
Yaoshan said, “I think not thinking.”
The monk said, “How do you think not thinking?”
Yaoshan said, “Non-thinking.”
(The Commentary): Abide in neither thinking nor not thinking. Thinking is linear and sequential, a separation from the reality that is the subject of thought, and thus is an abstraction rather than the reality itself. Not thinking is suppressive. It cuts away thoughts the moment they arise, making the mind into a great impenetrable mountain - dead, unresponsive. Non-thinking has no such edges. It is the boundless mind of samadhi that neither holds on to, nor lets go of, thoughts. It is the manifestation of the buddha mind in which the dualism of self and other, thinking and not thinking dissolve. This is the dharma of thusness that is the right thought of all the buddhas in the ten directions.
⇒ It depends on who is thinking "non-thinking", whether separate self (ego) or non-separate self (true self).
Lotus flower at Plum Village