Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Thoughts are like actors

Thoughts of themselves have no substance; let them arise and pass away unheeded. Thoughts will not take form of themselves, unless they are grasped by the attention; if they are ignored, there will be no appearing and no disappearing.
                                                                            – Ashvaghosha

I remember when I first heard the Shakespeare quote about being actors on the stage of life. I was in high school English class and it really struck me in a way that not many things had previously. As a small child I did have several experiences of feeling so open and spacious, so filled with light and curious about what life is and what my place in it might be.

Often as we grow up, we lose that natural curiosity and fall into our roles on the stage of life without questioning why. We become quite expert at playing our part and the emotions we experience become so real as we attach to them.

In meditation, we detach from our thoughts and emotions and become the audience. To continue the analogy of life being a play, our thoughts and emotions are the actors. Like actors and actresses everywhere, they love a responsive audience. But if no one shows up to watch the play, they give up and close the show. If we can allow the emotions and thoughts to be there without responding to them, they will soon dissolve and the mind will grow stronger and more one-pointed.  The more we practice meditation, the easier it is to see emotions and thoughts for what they really are and to know who we are.

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