Impermanence of thought


Every feeling and thought we have will make way for another thought or feeling. When I practice zazen I become keenly aware that these mental machinations are not permanent.

Today I weathered a storm at work. I was busy, had upset customers, my boss correcting me and the news that I wasn’t going to get the promotion I was up for. All of this occurred before 9:00am.

My thoughts turned negative and I talked negatively. I decided to read and found the quote above in the book “Lead: Simply” from the website

It’s a website that focuses on leadership, selling and personal improvement. I read this quote about 10:00 and it began to seep into my mind. I had been rejected for the promotion, I was barking at the bad, stewing about all the things I disliked about my job, and wasn’t championing the good in either thought or word.

A fellow employee asked me a question and I responded with this quote. For the rest of the day I was grateful for the experiences I’ve had at my job, I was enthusiastic about doing good productive work, and encouraged others throughout the day.

In the book “Beginner’s mind, Zen mind” Shunryu Suzuki explains how the mind is like water, and water innately has waves, just as your mind innately has thoughts that rise and fall.

“Even though waves arise, the essence of your mind is pure, it is just clear water with a few waves. Wave are the practice of the water.”

For me this means that thoughts will like waves come and go.

He goes on to explain how we should be grateful even for the “bad waves” when they arise.

“You should rather be grateful for the weeds you have in your mind, because eventually they will enrich your practice.”

I found that to be true today. The weeds of jealousy, anger and frustration led me to find and share the quote from Emerson and write this post today. I used those negative feelings to enrich my understanding of myself.

This morning I learned that the thoughts will come and they can go like the tide. The mind and thoughts are one. Letting go of my frustration, anger and loss allowed me to enjoy my day and not live in a hypothetically superior future.

Huston Smith in the foreword to “The Three Pillars of Zen” elucidates this point perfectly when he writes “If one’s eyes are always on tomorrows, todays slip by unperceived.”

When I focus on a negative view of the future I forget to be grateful for the present moment and the past as well.

I allowed the negative thoughts to dissipate instead of holding on to them and building in strength.

Suffering is a part of life. But that is not all of life it is only one part. It is connected and the same as the part of life that is fun, loving and pleasurable. I allowed the negative to pass by causing new positive thoughts to be created through reading, sharing, and embracing the moment.

Have a great day and don’t forget to enjoy the ride.



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