By Scott Shaw
One of the key components to living a spiritual life, as taught in Buddhism and other spiritual traditions, is the concept of, “Right Thought.” But, what is Right Thought?
Right Thought is the practice of the individual taking control over their thinking mind, not being controlled by negative, detrimental, or desire-filled thoughts and, thus, thinking only focused, positive thoughts that lead to the betterment of the individual and the entire world.
Most people have no control over what they think. What they think is based solely upon what they are feeling, (about themselves and other people), what they want, how they want to be perceived by the world, and how they want other people to think—believing as they believe. Certainly, that is the short list of what causes a person to think in a certain manner but the fact is, few people ever take the time to even think about controlling what they are thinking.
The reason that it is important to embrace Right Thought is that what you think sets up and unleashes the pattern of experiences you will encounter throughout your entire life.
What you think about causes you to do what you to do. Therefore, if what you are thinking embraces the mindset of negativity, judgment, selfishness, self-righteousness, or immorality your thoughts will lead you to say and do bad things that will not only affect your own life in a negative manner but the lives of others, as well. Thus, not only is your entire life given birth to by what you think but what you think has the potential to spread out from your mind and effect the entire world.
What do you spend your time thinking about? How does what you think about affect your life? How has what you have thought about affected the lives of other people?
First, think about this… How has what you have done, based upon what you have thought, been the causation factor for what has happen in your life?
Now, ponder this… How has what you have done, based upon what you have thought, been the causation factor for what has happened to the life of the people you know and the lives of those people you have never met but have thought about?
Again, in life, what you think about causes you to do what you do. If what you do, based upon what you think, affects the life of any other person, in either a positive or a negative manner, you are one-hundred percent responsible for that occurrence. Thus, your thoughts equal your karma. It was you who thought the thought. It was you who took action because of what you thought. Thus, it will ultimately be you who must pay the karmic price for emulating and actualizing the thoughts you thought in your mind.
Now that you understand how the thoughts you think are elemental to the evolution of your life and the lives of those people you think about, it is time to decide to not only understand your thoughts and your thought patterns but to take control over what you think, as well.
To begin the process of Right Thought you must first decide to become very aware of what you are thinking. This is not as easy as it sounds. Again, most people never take the time to even contemplate what they are thinking or why—nor do they ever study the evolution of how their thoughts have lead to the actions they have taken in their life, leading to their overall life experience.
Do you think about what you think? Do you think about why you think it? If you want to embrace Right Thought, this is the first step you must take. Study your own mind.
Right now, take a moment, what are you thinking? Now, trace that thought back. Why are you thinking it? Is what you are thinking something that you believe? Is what you are thinking something someone told you to believe? Is what you are thinking something you want to believe? Is what you are thinking something that you once believed but believe no longer?
At each moment of your life this practice of consciously taking note of what you are thinking will lead you to a clear understanding of why you are thinking what you are thinking. Moreover, as you come to understand your own mind this practice will allow you to not only understand how the actions, based upon your thoughts, have lead to your previous life experience but how, through your focused thoughts, you can guide your life to the place where you want it to be.
Everything you think is based upon what you choose to think. Yes, there are a million things that have caused you to think the way you think but it is you who allows yourself to think those thoughts. Thus, at the heart of the practice of Right Thought is you deciding to take control over what you think and focus your thoughts to the degree where they only lead to the betterment of all.
Each of us in our lives experience both good and bad situations. These occurrences cause us to feel a certain way which thereby causes us to think in a particular manner. Experience equals thought. But, it is the mindful individual who does not allow the various life experiences, that we each encounter, to control the pattern of their thought. You live it. You feel it. It causes you to experience an emotion which leads you to thinking. But, it is the person who practices the techniques of Right Thought that never lets the emotions motivated by experience to come to dominate their mind and control what they are thinking. The person who practices Right Thought learns to consciously take control over all of their thoughts. Thus, they become whole and one-pointed thereby gaining a clearer understanding of Self and the cosmos.
You can be more. How can you become more? The first step is to take control of your thought. Think before you think.
If you wish to walk the pathway towards enlightenment, Right Thought is the first step.
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