Tuesday, August 23, 2011


From the opening lines of the first chapter of the Dhammapada on Choices:

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.

How many times have I read these lines, contemplated there truth, and worked to transform my thinking?  But first I must become aware of my thinking, perhaps even become aware that I am alive.  How to train the thinking?  How to train awareness? By daily diligent practice aided with the support of a community.  Wise instruction from one who has journeyed the path provides direction and then some.  Time passes and awareness deepens, and then is lost.  The mind is fleeting - attention directed, then distracted; pulled away and then hopefully returned.

I follow my breath, planting seeds with my thinking.  Habits transmitted to me and honed finer, begin to loose their edge.  Patterns of thinking and acting that I developed as my response to the world are slowly revealed, slowly replaced.  But their energy is strong, watered by years and even lifetimes of use.  Before I am aware, I am once again locked in habit, without a choice.  But then I become aware of my thinking, aware of my actions, maybe even aware of my state.  A choice becomes possible.  Do I direct my thinking, raising my awareness and tasting freedom?  Am I alive?  Am I breathing?  Am I aware of the energy of life within me and around me?

We begin again constantly - when we are fortunate, when we are devoted to waking up to life.  Replacing inherited thoughts, adopted thoughts, and the thinking of others & society to which we are  constantly exposed is a brave choice. A necessary choice.  We are what we think.  I'm not sure I even like the notion as it places the burden of responsibility so squarely on me.

Yet I have proof.  Years of meditation, observing my breath and my thoughts.  Hours and hours of planting new seeds in my consciousness with the aid of meditation practices.  Directing my thinking with the Alexander Technique and dissolving pain and discomfort that haunted me for years.   With our thoughts we make the world.  Be still and listen to your mind.  Choose carefully upon what you think, foster freedom in your thinking and without fear, go.


  1. Beautiful, Patrick. To quote Marcus Aurelius, "The universe is transformation. Our life is what our thoughts make it." One of the greatest gifts of being human is to be able to, as you said, examine our thoughts, and choose what we think. Thanks for that.

  2. Thank you Patrick. I feel so far from where you are, your effort, even if passive, amazes me. But I don't know AT and the last time I was meditating the earth started shaking.