Dharma Gleanings


cynthia rich

March 1, 2015—March 16, 2015

March 1, 2015
It’s hard to break the habit of over-thinking. Although it’s an addiction it’s not an addiction like smoking or alcohol. It’s an addiction like food addiction—we can’t stop eating entirely and we can’t stop thinking entirely, and so our proliferation of thoughts, like our cravings for food, require some very subtle monitoring. Judgmentalism—which for some of us is itself almost like an addiction—is of course not at all helpful. Instead, as with all addictions, we need to begin with recognition that there is a problem, and with compassion for the suffering it has caused us, and with continuous awareness of how it manifests itself. For thinking and eating however, there is the added challenge, and we will need to gently and persistently train ourselves to be alert to how much is too much, which thinking (or food) is useful and which is empty calories?

March 15, 2015
In sharing with Bettina an experience I had recently, I used an image that she liked. I had been presented with what used to be for me an ancient powerful trigger, and it did not trigger me. I described such experiences as follows: it’s as if the feeling—on this occasion it was the fear and anger that the trigger had always evoked—is in the next room and the door stands open. You can see what is going on beyond that doorway and you realize that you just don’t need to walk through it. I think it was Bettina who observed that the visitations of Mara were probably those open doors. The Buddha decided not to be pulled into those rooms.

March 16, 2015
Imagine that we go into a store in a mall to buy something we need, we make the purchase and leave with our simple purchase under our arm. Another time we go into that store and spend a long entire day looking around for something we might just possibly want or need—we wander around searching, not for anything in particular, just something. Which trip to the store is more tiring, takes up more of our energy? Even if at some point on that second trip we find a couple of things to buy, they probably aren’t really something we needed. Most of our time has been wasted.

Overthinking is the second trip to the store. We are constantly following threads of thought in the hope that among them we will find something that we need to buy into. Usually, while we may try to talk ourselves into its value, any purchase we make in that way is not worth it, and may actually turn out to be costly.

Ajahn Tejanija says: “A wise practitioner thinks only the thoughts he wishes to think and does not think thoughts he does not wish to think.”