Quotes on Meditation and Mindfulness – Related to Thoughts and Thinking

Here is what has gradually grown to a large collection of quotes on meditation (黙想 mokusou) and mindfulness related to thoughts and thinking from a number of authors – below.  They are organized as follows:

  • Gil Fronsdal 1 [Fronsdal_ThoughtsIntro]
  • Gil Fronsdal 2 – from a Talk on “Mindfulness of Thoughts” [Fronsdal_Thoughts]
  • Gil Fronsdal 3 – from a Talk on “Freedom from Thinking” [Fronsdal_Freedom]
  • Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • Eckhart Tolle
  • Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Jon Kabat-Zinn [Williams]
  • Fabrizio Didonna
  • Nancy Colier
  • Peter Cutler
  • Chetan More
  • Bodhipaska
  • Phakchok Rinpoche
  • Ramana Maharshi
  • Rumi
  • Buddha
  • Others

These quotes have been very helpful for me on this journey “back home.”  References provided at the end.  I’ll likely update this page as I come across more quotes.

Enjoy!   


Gil Fronsdal 1 [Fronsdal_ThoughtsIntro]

  • In mindfulness, we are not stopping thoughts as much as overcoming any preoccupation we have with them.
  • Mindfulness is not thinking about things. (It is not “meditating on” some topic, as people often say.)  It  is  a  non-discursive  observation  of  our  life  in  all  its  aspects.
  • In those moments when thinking predominates, mindfulness is the clear and silent awareness that we are thinking.
  • I found it helpful and relaxing when someone said, “For the purpose of meditation, nothing is particularly worth thinking about.” Thoughts can come and go as they wish, and the meditator does not need to become involved with them. We are not interested in engaging in the content of our thoughts; mindfulness of thinking is simply recognizing we are thinking.
  • Thoughts are a huge part of our lives. Many of us spend much time inhabiting the cognitive world of stories and ideas.

  • Mindfulness practice won’t stop the thinking, but it will help prevent us from compulsively following thoughts that have appeared. This will help us become more balanced, so our physical, emotional and cognitive sides all work together as a whole.


Gil Fronsdal 2 – from a Talk on “Mindfulness of Thoughts” [Fronsdal_Thoughts]

So many gems from this transcribed talk:

  • You can’t stop your thoughts, but you don’t have to necessarily pick them up, get involved in them.
  • “Thoughting” is what the mind does, it produces thoughts. You can’t stop the mind from “thoughting”. But thinking is when you get involved in your thought. Then a train of associated thinking goes on, one after the other, you get involved and caught up in that world.
  • So what we’re trying to do is let the thoughts come up and just let them go by.  It can seem rather impersonal, maybe a little bit uninteresting, or very strange, because some people don’t even know how much they are living in the world of thoughts, and how much they mediate (note: not meditate), or see, or understand their life, through the filter of their thinking.
  • They say that fish don’t know, don’t see the water they swim in.  Humans don’t see the thinking that they swim in.
  • Some of you are probably a victim of your thinking mind, it takes you wherever it wants to go. Partly the reason for that is that some people believe that who they are, is their thinking. Their identity is so closely tied to what they think about, that it’s a completely foreign idea that they should be something different than their thoughts.
  • If they stopped thinking, who are they going to be?  If you don’t tell yourself stories about who you are, then who are you?  It can be a little bit challenging.
  • An important part of mindfulness is to really see the phenomenon of thinking.  We’re not at war with thinking, we’re not necessarily trying to push it away or say it’s bad. But some of them are painful. We’re trying to see it from the vantage point of the riverbank, as opposed to being in it or on it. From the vantage point of the riverbank, looking at the thinking, we might start noticing things we haven’t noticed before about it. They are different than the content, the ideas, the thoughts or the images.
  • Every time you come back from thinking you let go of it and come back to the riverbank.Those movements are very powerful, they only take a moment, they don’t look so dramatic, but they are actually very big movements of the mind. They are beginning to break old habits.
  • People have spent a lifetime of developing a habit of just letting themselves just ride the currents of their thoughts freely without any kind of choice.  Just going along.
  • No wonder when you sit down and meditate, the mind wanders off in thoughts so easily, because it’s had so much freedom over a lifetime.
  • Relearning and breaking the old habits goes relatively fast compared to how much time you spent freely thinking. We expect it to be by tomorrow, but it takes more than a couple of days.
  • Every time you notice, “I’m thinking”, every time you let go of thought, is a very meaningful moment, it has tremendous impact on breaking that habit.
  • If you’re here and the thinking is there, then you’re free of it to some degree.
  • If you are the thinking, you think you are the thought, then you’re not outside of it, you’re not on the riverbank.
  • So it’s a very clear cognizance that thinking is going on.  Sometimes this is enough for thinking to just evaporate. Part of the reason for that is that in order for thoughts to turn into thinking and persistent thinking, there has to be fuel for them to put energy into them. … In a way, you’re not fueling it anymore, you’re not involved in it anymore.  If you’re not involved, it dissipates usually, if it’s relatively mild.
  • For the purposes of meditation generally we are almost never interested in the content – in the story which goes with the thinking. We don’t focus on it, this is for other times and places, not for meditation.

Gil Fronsdal 3 – From a Talk on “Freedom from Thinking” [Fronsdal_Freedom]

Many more gems from this ~38 min. video.

  • [11:03]  Most people live in the layer of discursive thinking (internal conversations, commentary, analyzing, contemplating, reflecting, planning,…).  Wisdom begins to operate when we cannot be caught up in discursive thinking.  Discursive thinking, analyzing, contemplating is an important part of human life.  But eating is an important part of human life.  But you are not expected to be eating all the time. 
    • [11:28] Discursive thinking, contemplating, reflecting is an important part of human life but if that’s all you do, if that’s the only vehicle by which you understand yourself and your life, it’s quite truncated, quite limited.
  • [11:50]  In terms of thinking, one of the first tasks in  mindfulness is to start appreciating the kinds of thinking that are operating from within you and to realize that there are different capacities, ways of thinking, cognizing our experience.
    • [12:02]  In meditation, people can learn how rewarding or satisfying it is to cease all the discursive thinking, to stop all that kind of distracted thoughts, imaginary thoughts, thinking about the future, thinking about the past, figuring things out.  And how peaceful it is to settle down to just a simple recognition note:  there’s a sound, there’s a sound of a car, just a very simple, here’s a thought, here’s an itch.
    • [12:32] And part of the reason it feels so satisfying is that with discursive thinking we tend to get involved with it.  We get involved with it energetically.  We get involved emotionally.  There’s reactions.  The world tends to get more limited and narrow and contracted the more tightly we’re wrapped up around our discursive thoughts.  As we begin to free ourselves from this strong gravitational pull into discursive thinking, the mind tends to have more space, more open and the feeling of spaciousness, openness, ease, peace, of thought just kind of being there without any hook to them.  Just very simple.  A thought arises, an idea arises and memory arises.  But nothing’s done with it.  We don’t pick it up.  We don’t react to it.  We don’t make conclusions about it.  They’re just there.
  • [13:28] And in that simplicity, there’s a lot of ease – much more satisfying.  Also, then we see more clearly actually what’s going on. 
    • So, to want something – to want the red car – to have a thought “I want a red car” and if the next thing you know is that you’re at the car dealer buying a red car and you didn’t see anything in between.  You don’t remember what happened in between. Then the discursive world and this desire kind of took over. 
    • But if you sat there and saw that ‘desiring a red car’ bubble up in the mind and you recognize it:  there’s a thought of desiring, a thought of red cars.  In that simple layer of just recognizing what it is, there can be much more space to leave it alone, to not get involved.
    • And then the wisdom of the mind can operate and there can be a recognition in the mind: “You know, I don’t need to have a red car.  I have a perfectly good car.  I bet the desire for the red car had more to do with not the red car but something else about it.”
  • [14:57]  If we can begin saying, name and see: “Well, that’s what’s happening now.  That’s what’s happening now.  That’s what’s happening now.”  And that’s a hard skill to learn because of the tremendous wave that we pulled into discursive thinking.
    • [15:15]  If you look at your mind churning away in its thoughts and concerns, you can ask yourself: “How much authority are you giving your thoughts?” or “How much authority are they claiming?”  That ‘this’ is important.  ‘This’ is true.   That the place to be with your life energy right now is to be with these thoughts.  “How much do you invest in your thoughts and your discursive thinking and thinking about things?”
    • [15:55]  How much credence do we give to the worry that’s part of the thinking, the fear?  And we really believe that fear and the worry that’s there.  This is a very important issue to look at how we relate to our thinking, our discursive thoughts because there’s some psychologists who think that the some of the leading causes for things like depression, anxiety, despair for many people has to do with the nature of their thinking, the discursive thoughts.
  • [28:03] Meditation is kind of  like a laboratory or gym or something where you learn how to work with your mind.   And then once you’ve learned how to work with it, you can start working with it outside meditation.

Jon Kabat-Zinn

  • You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.
  • It is remarkable how liberating it feels to be able to see that your thoughts are just thoughts and that they are not ‘you’ or ‘reality.’
  • Most of the time, if you’re not really paying attention, you’re some place else.
  • Awareness is not the same as thought.  It lies beyond thinking, … Awareness is more like a vessel which can hold and contain our thinking, helping us to see and know our thought as thought rather than getting caught up in them as reality.
  • Too much of the education system orients students toward become better thinkers, but there is almost no focus on our capacity to pay attention and cultivate awareness.
  • There is a lot of different ways to talk about mindfulness, but what it really means is awareness.

Eckhart Tolle

  • The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.
  • All problems are illusions of the mind.
  • Every time you create a gap in the stream of mind, the light of your consciousness grows stronger. One day you may catch yourself smiling at the voice in your head. This means that you no longer take the content of your mind all that seriously, as your sense of self does not depend on it.
  • Whenever you step out of the noise of thinking, that is meditation, and a different state of consciousness arises.
  • The mental suffering you create is always some form of non-acceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is.  On the level of thought, the resistance is some form of judgment.  The intensity of the suffering depends on the degree of resistance to the present moment.
  • To meet everything and everyone through stillness instead of mental noise is the greatest gift you can offer the universe.
  • The secret of life is to die before you die and find that there is no death.

Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Jon Kabat-Zinn [Williams, Chapter 8]

I found this book and its Chapter 8 on “Seeing Thoughts as Creations of the Mind” very helpful and clear.

  • From the Section “Seeing Thoughts as Thoughts” [Williams, pp. 164-165]
    • As far as thoughts themselves are concerned, through mindfulness we can cultivate a new and very different relationship to them, allowing thoughts simply to be here instead of analyzing them, trying to work out where they came from, or trying to get rid of them in any way.
      • In awareness, we see them immediately for what they actually are:  constructions, mysterious creations of the mind, mental events that may or may not accurately reflect reality.  We come to realize that our thoughts are not facts.  Nor are they really “mine” or “me”.
    • But our task is not only to become more aware of our thoughts, but to become aware of them in a different way, to relate to them from within the being mode of mind.
    • The act of registering in awareness that the mind is wandering involves a shift from being totally absorbed in our thought stream to being detached enough from it to see what has happened.  And each time we gently label our thoughts as “thinking” and intentionally disengage from the thought stream, we reinforce the shift in relationship toward seeing thoughts as thoughts.
  • From the Section “Hearing Our Thoughts” [pp. 165-168]
    • Think of it this way:  the mind is to thoughts as the ear is to sounds.
    • If we think of the mind as the “ear” for our thoughts, then perhaps we can learn to relate to thoughts that arise in the mind in the same that we relate to sounds arriving at the ears.
    • Normally we may not even be aware of the extent to which the mind is “receiving” thoughts until we refine our ability to be aware of them, until we practice intentionally giving them the space to simply be here as they are and to be seen and known for what they are: discrete events in the field of awareness.
    • You might find it helpful to bring awareness to thoughts in the mind in the same way that you would if the thoughts were projected on the screen at the movies — you sit, watching the screen, waiting for a thought or image to arise.  When it does, you attend to it so long as it is there “on the screen,” and then you let it go as it passes away.
  • From the Section “Carried Away by the Thought Stream” [Williams, pp. 168-169]
    • Returning to the movie metaphor, it’s as if the mind has left its seat and gotten sucked into the action up there on the screen, now playing a part in the story that it was mindfully observing the moment before.
    • When you realize that this is happening, all you need to do is acknowledge that the mind had been caught up in the thought stream and that now awareness has been reestablished.  It is helpful to … gently escort the mind back to its seat, back to observing the play of thoughts and feelings.
    • It is important to acknowledge the difficulty of this practice; we are so used to living inside our thoughts rather than attending to them.
    • There is a fine line between taking a friendly interest in our thoughts as mental events and becoming seduced by their content and emotional charge.  We can be virtually bushwhacked and bamboozled by them, drawn imperceptibly into believing that they are true and they are us and we are them. 
  • From the Section “Noticing Self-Critical Commentary” [pp. 169-170]
    • The more we engage in the formal meditation practices, the more we may notice ourselves having reactions to what we are experiencing, judging how well things are going, and criticizing ourselves if we think we’re not feeling what are “supposed to be” feeling or that we are “not very good” at meditating.  Such occasions are wonderful opportunities to remember that judging and criticizing are really just more thinking.
    • With time, we may come to experience an open, spacious quality in our awareness that easily holds whatever is arising in the domain of the mind or body (including any judgmental thoughts) and learn to rest in that awareness itself.
  • From the Section “Beyond Thoughts and Feelings:  Choiceless Awareness” [Williams pp. 177-180]*
    • Up to this point, we have described the practices of mindfulness meditation as they are taught sequentially…: mindfulness of taste; mindfulness of the movements of the breath; mindfulness of body sensations lying down, as we stretch, move, and walk; mindfulness of pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral feelings, mindfulness of aversion; mindfulness of sounds; and finally mindfulness of thoughts and emotions. 
      • Each of these practices directs us repeatedly to focus our attention in a specific way on a particular aspect of our experience.  In this way, we are progressively cultivating our capacity to be mindful, to develop the skills that can free us from unhappiness and depression.
    • The next practice unifies all these separate strands of training in mindfulness and reveals them to actually be elements of the one seamless whole.  This is the practice of choiceless awareness.
    • It’s always possible to jump to choiceless awareness at any moment, simply by letting go of any and all objects of attention.  … We rest in awareness itself, without any attempt to direct our attention toward anything other than awareness itself.
    • As we engage in this practice, we may become increasingly aware of the distinction between the objects to which we can direct our attention, if we choose, and the space of awareness in which all our experiences arise.
    • The invitation is to settle into this awareness, to be the knowing, the nonconceptual knowing that pure awareness actually is.

* “Choiceless awareness” seems quite related to 1) “Mushin” as described in Resources on Mushin-no-shin (the Mind of No Mind) and Quotes on Mushin and 2) “Open Monitoring Meditation” described in “Ways to Meditate” under the “Articles” section of Resources on Meditation (黙想 mokusou).


Fabrizio Didonna

From pp. 1-14 (PDF pp.32-45) [Didonna_Handbook]

  • (M)indfulness is actually the way out of the everyday trances we live at the mercy of unconscious, habitual, automatic patterns of conditioning.
    • p.2 (PDF p. 33) Attributed to Stephen Wolinsky Trances People Live, 1991.
  • On Worrying and Ruminating on pp. 9-11 (pp. 40-42):
    • When people worry or ruminate about their problems, even if it seems to them that they are facing the difficulty, they are actually moving further away from a direct perception of the nature of the difficulty. This happens because ruminating always involves making a judgment about the experience.
    • Meditation techniques based on mindfulness work in exactly the opposite direction favoring a “letting-go” attitude toward one’s own thoughts. This is an indispensable skill for people’s psychological and physical health since it helps them avoid getting stuck once again in harmful vicious cycles.
    • The worst damage caused by depressive rumination is the fact that the ruminative thought feeds itself continuously. This process generates thoughts and, therefore, emotions that become more and more intense and far from the actual situation, such that over time it becomes more and more difficult to differentiate reality from one’s judgment of it. For this reason, according to mindfulness, it is extremely important that patients learn how to disidentify themselves from their thoughts. …
    • The possibility to disidentify ourselves from our own thoughts can free us up from one of the strongest and most deeply rooted attachments: the attachment to thinking for the sake of thinking, that is, being dependent on the incessant mental conversation that goes on in our minds.
    • There seems to be a unique fascination with this attachment since we only feel normal when our minds are thinking a lot and since we think that the solution to all of our problems can come solely from thoughts as if we had a sort of blind faith in the presumed magical power of thinking and re-thinking.
    • When we realize that our thoughts are non-concrete and have no substance, that their true nature does not necessarily have anything to do with reality, we have overcome the obstacle of attachment and the possibility that it will degenerate into the negative effects of rumination.
    • The consistent practice of meditation leads to the intentional suspension of every judgment and evaluation we make regarding what happens around us and inside us. This allows us to observe and accept, without wanting to change, the processes of thought and our emotional reactions in all areas of experience.

Nancy Colier

  • From [Colier_WhyMeditate]
    • What changes as a result of meditation is not necessarily the speed and frequency of the thoughts that appear in our inner landscape, but rather our relationship with those thoughts.
      • Through the practice of meditation, we become less identified with the ticker tape that runs through our head, less convinced that our thoughts hold some inherent truth or importance, and less committed to solving each problem/emergency about which our thoughts remind us.
      • You could say that we lose a degree of interest in the monkey mind’s song (or screech). Sometimes the mind quiets as a result of our lack of interest — of our paying it less mind — and sometimes it just screeches louder.
    • What happens as a result of witnessing our own mind (without judgment or commentary) is that, over time, we realize that we are actually not that mind, nor the thoughts, beliefs, ideas, and all else that it spews out.
      • We realize that the mind will happen on its own, generating content, with or without our participation.
      • We realize that who we are, our very identity, is the one who is witnessing all that goes on, that monkeying about.
      • The purpose of meditation is not to change our mind, but to awaken the self that is aware of it!
    • If you take one moment to see what is occurring inside your own mind — without getting involved in its contents, without engaging in the dialogue, just looking — you are doing it right.
    • What happens to you as a result of the observation, therein lies the wild and magnificent adventure!
  • From [Colier_BreakingFree]
    • In truth, thoughts happen – on their own.  We are not in charge of what our thoughts are about.  We are the recipient – the “hearer” of thoughts, the screen upon which they are projected, but certainly not the one doing the thinking.
    • And when not paid attention to, the mosquitos (thoughts) often take off to find someone else to bug.  The same is true for thoughts – without your energy, your juice (in the form of attention) – they lose their power. 
    • You can make use of thoughts, but don’t believe them to be “yours” in some fundamental, identity-defining way.
    • We cannot stop thought but we can stop being interested in thought.
    • The “you” who is hearing the thoughts is the real you.  You are the space within which the thoughts appear (and disappear).
  • From [Colier_Thoughts]
    • There is one physical world here on earth, but billions of different internal worlds.  We are all in our own separate theatres, witnessing entirely different shows,…”
    • What makes a thought feel real is the attention we bring to it.
    • How freeing it is to know that if we do not attend to a thought, answer it, change it, identify with it, and all the rest, it literally ceases to exist. If we let a thought be nothing, then that’s what it will be… nothing.
    • And so the next time that a thought appears before you, within your awareness, remember that it is not real in the sense that it has some solid form or exists somewhere outside of you.  … The thought appears in front of and within only you.  Without the juice of your attention, it simply disappears without a trace.

Peter Cutler

  • From [Cutler_FreedomFromThoughtsSuffering] (Beautiful and liberating to read)
    • The reason I live free of thoughts is not because I no longer think, not because my brain no longer creates thoughts.  It is because I completely understand what thoughts are.  I experience thoughts as thoughts.  I no longer mistake them for reality.  And this is why I live free from thoughts.  And freedom from thoughts is freedom from suffering.
    • If any experience of suffering, no matter how subtle, should arise, I open to it fully without resistance. It always leads back to a thought. In doing this thousands of times over the years with myself and others, this has never failed to happen even once. Sometimes the thought is deeply repressed and unconscious, but without resistance to the feeling, it bubbles to the surface and is set free.  It’s set free because it is always realized as just a thought and, once it is let go, all suffering immediately ceases.
    • This is very important to know. I realize how resistant most of us are to accepting the truth of this. There is very strong conditioning to experience thoughts as more than thoughts, to experience thoughts as reality, as truth, or at least as “my truth”.
    • I have helped many people experience complete freedom from chronic pain … simply by helping them reduce their attachment to certain thoughts. This freedom from pain would be complete and permanent if the conditioning to believe their thoughts was not so powerful that it arose again within a few days of seeing me or sooner.  For some this does happen.  But for most the addiction to and belief in their thoughts is too powerful, so pain returns again along with the belief in their thoughts.  It takes practice for this to be complete.  It’s almost never a one shot deal.  It depends on motivation and readiness more than anything else. …
    • When our addiction is very strong, as it is in most people, we are not yet ready to surrender this addiction. We must hit bottom first. That is the reason for suffering. That is the gift of suffering. It helps us hit bottom. For most of us it is necessary to hit bottom before we are ready to give up such an entrenched and reinforced addiction.
    • … it is possible to be free of addiction to our thoughts.  It begins by understanding what our thoughts really are, not truth, not reality, just a thought, a limited, abstract representation of truth. When we no longer believe our thoughts are truth or an accurate representation of reality, we are in a position to see them as they are.  Just accepting this, we can let them go, let them be what they are, and no longer an obstacle preventing us from experiencing life as it really is.
  • From [Cutler Interview] at 1:53:00
    • Attachment and resistance are the only things that keep us away from this bliss of awakened consciousness.  It’s very simple really.  Rocket science, right?  Whatever we are attached to is going to prevent us from opening to that, from even having it or even seeing it.  And whatever (we are) resisting is the same.
    • One form of meditation is simply to not resist life.   To just accept everything that is happening in this moment.  It’s beautiful.  Just for a moment.  Just everything that is happening in this moment.  Just allow it to be exactly as it is. 
      • If you’re feeling fear in that moment, allow that to be exactly as it is.  Don’t wish it away.  Just experience it.  And that’s how we heal fear.  We totally open to it.  Then it just sort of fades away.
      • But we can’t resist it.  If we go like:  “No fear.  I don’t want to feel any  more fear.  I want to keep fear away.”   We’re going to just keep it as long as we keep doing that.  It’s so funny.  It’s the opposite of what we learned, isn’t it?  It’s the opposite of how we’ve been conditioned.  The truth of life is the opposite of our conditioned world.

Chetan More

  • From [More_MeditationOpenSecret]
    • Alertness between two consecutive thoughts is (a) door to meditation.
    • Sometimes you, as awareness, relax and focus upon yourself for a while without realizing it. This shift of awareness from experience to itself is so subtle that you may fail to recognize it and its significance.
    • By intellectualizing it you may keep beating around the bush.
  • From [More_FloatingOnWater]
    • Learning to meditate is like learning to float on water.  Floating on water and meditation both can be learned but cannot be taught.
  • From [More_HowToMeditate]
    • … during meditation you, as awareness, are travelling within yourself. But this travelling is not a voluntary process. It is involuntary like a relaxed free-fall within you, as awareness. Giving up control is (the) only thing you can do while going deep in meditation.
    • Knowing the knack of meditation is better than depending on techniques.  Knack is mastery.  It is (a) direct approach to meditation. Once learned and recognized, the knack of meditation is never lost.  It is a knack as simple as swimming in water, or riding a bicycle, or learning to whistle by mouth, …
    • Meditation techniques can help you to get glimpses of meditation. Through trial and error you have to find which technique suits you.  No one can tell you that. From those glimpses, the state of meditation can be recognized. You can first practice techniques and then recognize the meditative state or you can first recognize the meditative state and then practice cognizing it repeatedly.

Bodhipaska

  • From [Bodhipaksa]
    • When meditation brings us to the point where self-talk ceases, the mind is anything but blank. Instead it’s full — full of an awareness of those sensations, feelings, emotions, and images. I like to think of this as one of the meanings of mindfulness – “mind-full-ness,” or the mind being so full that there’s no need for, and no room for, inner self-talk.
    • Our inner self-talk, as well as generating or reinforcing unhelpful emotions, also has the effect of keeping us at a relatively superficial level of our experience. We get so wrapped up in what we’re saying to ourselves inside our heads that we often don’t really notice what’s going on in the heart, the body, or even in the outside world.
    • Meditation is about developing mindfulness, or “mind-full-ness.”

Phakchok Rinpoche

From this article [Phakchok LionDog] which I highly recommend reading.

  • Stop behaving like a dog. Behave like a lion! – his teacher Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
    • “When you throw a stone at a dog, what does he do?” he asked. 
      • “The dog chases the stone,” I replied.
    • He said that was exactly what I was doing, acting like a dog—chasing each thought that came at me.
      • (F)or example, “That person pisses me off”—I would chase after it. Without even noticing, I would dwell on that thought, looping it over and over again, justifying it, coming up with all the reasons to be angry, and, in so doing, I would become the thought.  Rinpoche pointed out to me how I was chasing after my angry thoughts, just like the dog chases after the stone.
    • “When you throw a stone at a lion,” he continued, “the lion doesn’t care about the stone at all.  Instead, it immediately turns to see who is throwing the stone. Now think about it: if someone is throwing stones at a lion, what happens next when the lion turns to look?”
      • “The person throwing the stone either runs away or gets eaten,” I said.
    • “Right you are,” said my teacher. “Either way, no more stones!”
  • From “Exercise #2 Using Thoughts and Emotions as an Object”
    • Don’t cling to or try to follow each thought.
      • Just observe.  Whatever arises in the mind, just watch it come and go, lightly, and without grasping.
    • When you do this practice, you don’t need to become like a cat waiting outside a hole for the mouse to show, ready to pounce … on the space between thoughts as soon as it arises.
      • If you practice in that way, you’ll succumb to thoughts such as “Oh, there is the space! I must rest in it,” which means you are filling the space with another thought.  The best way is to rest in the space.
      • Remain spaciously, whether there is any space between thoughts or not.
        • Practice without any goal of finding a space. If a space comes, remain present in the moment. If a thought comes, remain present, observing it. Either way, you are relaxing the clinging.
    • As we practice these exercises and get used to resting in the space between thoughts, there will be no need for a meditation support (for example, focusing on the breath), because we are fully present and aware.
      • That space is usually quite short, but over time we become more and more stable in it.
    • There could still be a subtle problem, though: we may start thinking that thoughts are bad and that we have to enter into a thought-free state to be really meditating. Or perhaps we feel we need a thought so we can look at it and then rest in its dissolution.
      • Of course, when we think like this we are still under the influence of hoping for certain circumstances and fearing not getting them. Although by using thoughts and emotions as support we have begun to turn the mind toward the stone thrower, it is still a little indirect.
    • Like a lion not bothering to look at all the stones but rather turning to look in the direction of the stone thrower, instead of looking at the thoughts we can look at the maker of thoughts—awareness.
    • At that instant of looking toward knowing, you can just let go and rest; let go of being present; or let go of knowing
      • At that moment of letting go, you are in mind’s nature— awareness itself. The nature of mind—awareness—is always available whether there is a thought to be known or not.
      • What does it mean to let go? It means to just let the mind be, however it is. Don’t concern yourself about whether or not you’re noticing the knowing or if there is a natural space. However it is, just allow the mind to be that way.
  • From “Exercise #3 Awareness Meditation”
    • Start with your usual meditation method.
    • After a while, when you have settled into the practice, drop the method and allow yourself to be aware of whatever it is you are aware of.
      • Maybe there is a loud racket outside the door, a fragrant aroma that entered the room, a tickle just under your shoulder blade, or even a rising thought.
    • Now turn your attention inward, toward what is knowing the sound, smell, or sensation.
      • At that moment, let go and rest within the natural space of awareness. Allow awareness to be aware of awareness.
    • At that moment of turning toward knowing and then letting go, you are naturally present, not lost in thinking about thoughts.
      • Awareness itself is free of focus, aware without being aware of something.

Ramana Maharshi

  • You have to ask yourself the question “Who am I?”  This investigation will lead in the end to the discovery of something within you which is behind the mind.  Solve that great problem and you will solve all other problems.
  • The question “Who am I?” is not really meant to get an answer, the question “Who am I?” is meant to dissolve the questioner.
  • Our identification with the mind and body is the chief reason for our failure to know our self as we truly are.
  • If one’s mind has peace, the whole world will appear peaceful.

Rumi

  • Protect yourself…. from your own thoughts.
  • Put your thoughts to sleep, do not let them cast a shadow over the moon of your heart.  Let go of thinking
  • Be empty of worrying.  Think of who created thought!
  • Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.  Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.

Buddha

  • You only lose what you cling to.
  • Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own thoughts, unguarded.
  • Peace comes from within.
  • Attachment leads to suffering.

Others

  • Remember, when we meet, you are meeting yourself through me. – Fiona Stolze from her reply on her About page dated Sept 10, 2012.
  • We are not our thoughts
    • Or other variants:  You are not your thoughts.  I am not the thoughts.  The thoughts are not you / me.
  • I had to agree with the Roshi, who then explained that the problem with thinking was not thinking per se, but thinking that was stuck. – Suzuki Roshi from [Brown].
  • When we find ourselves constantly worrying or stuck in an eddy of repeating fear, insecurities, doubts and intransigent beliefs about ourselves and others.  These thoughts serve to build and maintain chronic body tensions. – Donna Farhi from [Warren]
  • At the beginning there may be a sense of calm and peace.  But after a while your mind will seem even worse than before.  Even though your mind may seem worse, actually it is better. … The reason why your mind seems worse after meditating for a while is that your emotional problems are coming to the surface. – Lama Gursam [Gursam_ImportanceMeditation]
  • Your thoughts try to do everything in their power to make you rush after them, and to satisfy them by giving them your full attention, until you get completely lost in your thoughts and forget to even gain a glimpse at your inner self for once in a day. – Rahul Singh [Singh]
  • Firstly, you don’t exist. … Thirdly, ego cannot die because it is an illusion.  Fighting with ego is just more ego.  Notice this.  Be careful of building up a new anti-ego ego.  That’s still ego.  See through that whole game. – Leo Gura from [Actualized_TenBulls]
  • [ArtOfLiving_Meditation].
    • Meditation happens when thoughts subside.  Thoughts arise in so many ways and take you for a spin. … Desires, ambitions, expectations, doubts, unpleasant memories, feverishness, worries, botherations
    • What makes a worry stay with you is – your illusion that you are going to live forever.
    • Desire simply means that the present moment is not all right.  This causes tension in the mind.   As long as some desires linger in your mind, you cannot be at total rest.
    • You have no control over the desires. Even if you say, “Oh, desire is the cause of misery. I shouldn’t have desires, when will I be free of desires?” that is another desire! So, as they come up, recognize them and let go.
    • Let go of all effort – to stop thoughts, or to concentrate, or to contemplate.
  • [ArtOfLiving]
    • Meditation is the delicate art of doing nothing and letting go of all the efforts to relax into your true nature which is love, joy and peace.
    • When the mind becomes free from agitation, is calm and serene and at peace, meditation happens.

References

[Actualized_TenBulls] Comment by Leo Gura (Dec 31, 2016) in “The Ten Bulls:  I am Catching the Bull,” Actualized.org, Dec 30, 2016.

[ArtOfLiving_Meditation] “Meditation & Thoughts,” ArtOfLiving.org.

[ArtOfLiving] “What is Meditation?,” ArtOfLiving.org.

[Bodhipaksa] Bodhipaksa, “Is meditation about making your mind go blank?” WildMind.org.

[Brown] Edward Espe Brown, “Thoughts on Thinking During Meditation, and Why it’s Okay – Knowing what to do with your wandering thoughts is perhaps the greatest challenge for meditators,” YogaJournal.com, Aug 28, 2007.

[Colier_BreakingFree] Nancy Colier, “Breaking Free from the Tyranny of Thought:  Stop Feeding Your Mind and it Will Stop Biting You,” NancyColier.com, Aug 10, 2013.

[Colier_WhyMeditate] Nancy Colier, “Why Meditate? – How not trying to change creates change!” Psychology Today, Jan 29, 2013.

[Colier_Thoughts] Nancy Colier, “Why Our Thoughts Are Not Real,” NancyColier.com, September 27, 2013.

[Cutler_FreedomFromThoughtsSuffering]  Peter Cutler, “From Freedom from Thoughts = Freedom from Suffering,” n-lightenment.com, July 18, 2017.

[Cutler Interview] “BATGAP Interview with Peter Cutler,” March 4, 2017.

[Didonna_Handbook] Fabrizio Didonna (Editor), Clinical Handbook of Mindfulness, Springer, 2009 (PDF, 536 pages).

[Fronsdal_Thoughts] Gil Fronsdal, “Mindfulness of Thoughts (Week 4)” (Transcription of a Talk), Insight Meditation Center, Jan 30, 2008.

[Fronsdal_ThoughtsIntro] Gil Fronsdal,  “Introductory Course in Mindfulness Meditation, 4th Week – Mindfulness of Thoughts,” Insight Meditation Center (PDF, 2 pages).

[Fronsdal_Freedom] “Gil Fronsdal:  Freedom from Thinking,” insightmed, YouTube Video, May 14, 2018 (37:53 mins).

[Gursam_ImportanceMeditation] Lama Gursam, “The Importance of Meditation,” LamaGursam.org

[More_FloatingOnWater] Chetan More, “Meditation is Like Floating on Water,” TheChoicelessAwareness.com, Jan. 21, 2018.

[More_HowToMeditate] Chetan More, “How to Meditate?”  TheChoicelessAwareness.com, Nov. 3, 2017.

[More_MeditationOpenSecret] Chetan More, “Meditation:  The Open Secret,” TheChoicelessAwareness.com, November 1, 2017.

[Phakchok_LionDog] Phakchok Rinpoche and Erric Solomon, “Creating a Confident Mind – How to behave more like a lion and less like a dog,” Tricycle.org, Fall 2018.

[Singh] Rahul Singh, “The State of No Thought,” LifeBeginner.com, Aug 5, 2016.

[Warren] Dennis Warren, “Thinking and Thoughts – The Role of Thinking in Meditation,” Guiding Instructor, Sacramento Insight Meditation.

[Williams] Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Jon Kabat-Zinn, The Mindful Way through Depression – Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness, 2007.


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