The Norman Transcript


April 24, 2014

How does one banish bad thoughts?

NORMAN — Be mindful of your thoughts

Lama Chuck Stanford, Rime Buddhist Center: We aren’t able to control the thoughts that arise in our mind any more than we are able to stop breathing. Both are inherent to our humanness.

Where do thoughts come from? Where do they go when we are finished thinking them? When you examine the nature of our thoughts, you realize how insubstantial they actually are. It is only when you focus on them that you give them any real power.

Instead of trying to banish a bad thought, a more useful approach is to look at and examine the nature of the thought. Then we may become aware of how by acting upon this thought it may cause suffering to others or ourselves.

Through this awareness it becomes possible to transform negative thoughts into virtuous activity that can actually benefit others. This method is possible only through the practice of mindfulness.

Mindfulness is an important part of Buddhist practice. Mindfulness has been defined as “paying attention on purpose, in a particular way, without judgment.” Mindfulness is becoming aware that we are not our thoughts. Thoughts arise and pass away like clouds in the sky. Therefore, there is nothing to accept or reject.

Living mindfully means living fully in the present moment. When we live fully in the present moment, our lives and activity can manifest great compassion and dignity for others and ourselves.

Cultivate good thoughts

A.M. Bhattacharyya, Hindu adviser of the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council: Bad thoughts are mental impurities that cause restlessness and distraction in the mind. The restless mind takes away the inner poise, contentment and peace of mind. The distraction of mind causes lack of concentration and self-control.

According to Hindu doctrine of karma and reincarnation, one’s afterlife is determined by one’s deeds, that is karma, in this life. The impressions of one’s accumulated good or bad deeds, which are the end results of good or bad thoughts, stay in one’s mental state until death and are carried to the next life.

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