The Path of Meditation (part eight)

An amazing factor of the human realm is the perception that private thought is normal. This illusion regarding private thought has interesting ramifications. For example, if people really knew what you thought, if you could not hide your thoughts from them, would you change the way you think?

It is likely that we would make more effort to control dysfunctional thinking and increase quality thoughts in order to keep friends and dear ones as dear and friendly. If we were forced to wear our thoughts like a moving banner across the forehead, we would probably try much harder. So, let us practice working on motivation as though other people could tell what we were thinking.

I suppose we would start by trying not to have funny thoughts about other people, however, if they are behaving badly, then I personally do not believe that I have an obligation to pretend. This is a damaging kind of practice, knowing that someone is doing something incorrectly or harmful, and yet pretend to yourself that they are not. Some people confuse themselves inside and refuse to believe that others (who might still have many good qualities) are really doing bad things when they are. It is possible to confuse a sense of careful discrimination by thinking, 'Oh, I should not think that about people! I should only think well of everyone.‘

So, we want to be careful not to damage our ability to make careful judgments when that is needed, such as in daily interactions where we have responsibilities. Sometimes it is hard to tell people they did wrong, because you are afraid of their reaction. Communication becomes strained and uncomfortable. We then might need to blame ourselves, because we have been the cause of the other persons feeling bad. On the other hand, if they could read your thoughts, communication would be more direct and honest, although it would be like amateur thinkers in a public place! They could read your forehead banner without your saying even one word aloud, that states, "You ding dong! You did not do what you promised and now others are having to do your work for you.” Perhaps they need to know that, because you have a certain responsibility, not because you do not like them or other living beings.

At the same time, we should be careful about making wild discriminations or displaying dysfunctional chaotic thinking until we are more capable and clearer. Therefore, we use our best judgment and try not to get into trouble. We all know there are harmful people in this world and sometimes even good meditators are exposed to them by circumstance and not by karma (for example, people killed in terrorist attacks).

On the other hand, it might be sometimes handy that others cannot know exactly what we think. You do not want to enrage the boss by saying or displaying your actual thought on your forehead, "You know, you are really not very nice, and I must always tell the truth because I am a Buddhist!" They might say, "Well, you do not have to work here anymore." Well, thank you very much! Now I just lost my job! Since you have to earn a living, you will need to interact as skillfully as possible with others. It is also good practice to use compassion for others who suffer from anger, or other delusions without damaging our own discrimination. Meanwhile, we pray that in the future you will perhaps become a full time meditator, if that is what you desire, and not have to deal with people and situations that are stressful.

Even in my activities, working for the dissemination of the Buddha Dharma, as well as others with similar lifework, we do not give up and go hide in our houses just because someone behaves badly or observe that others who profess to be practitioners cannot get along together. I am never going to give up my dharma activities! We do not give up, because it is important. You do not give up your employment because it is important, however, when the drawbacks outweigh the benefits, then you quit your ordinary job and find another. To be continued……


  1. Rinpoche, I am still working to understand Karma. You said that even some good meditaters are exposed to harmful circumstances and not because of Karma. you said such a case as being killed by terrorists. Much of what happens in life is due to causes and conditions. So are you saying that sometimes you are in the way of others creations of causes and conditions? Nyima (Wisconsin)


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