Are my thoughts a habit of mind that I acquired as I grew up? Were they planted by my family . . . cultivated and nurtured by my peers, experience and education? Or are they “closer to being instincts” as Robert Wright proposes in his book Why Buddhism Is True? A classic conundrum – nature vs. nurture.
Wherever they’re born, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing I am my thoughts. I am not.
“A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It’s not our thoughts, but our attachment to our thoughts that cause suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to.” – Byron Katie
All those stories I tell myself and others about who I am, what I know, are just that – stories. Believing my own stories, that drama; the spectacle – creates suffering. Letting go, releasing my expectation that a certain something must happen, brings a relaxed sense of calm.
Holding tight to the story – attaching to it as Byron Katie says; brings resistance – and ultimately suffering.
I have a choice. Calm, relaxed awareness – or resistance and suffering. What will I choose today?
“To me the ego is the habitual and compulsive thought processes that go through everybody’s mind continuously. External things like possessions or memories or failures or successes or achievements. Your personal history.” – Eckhart Tolle