Dharma Topic: Not Thinking Too Much

Dharma Topic: Not Thinking Too Much

Discussion date: Thu, Jul 06, 2006 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Dear Still Water Friends,

A Zen center in California used to sell t-shirts that read “Meditation– It’s not what you think.” Many of us grew up in families in whichthinking was encouraged while other ways of responding — such as withour hearts and souls — were discouraged, dismissed, or ignored. Forme, one of the treasures of mindfulness is that it encourages us andteaches us to respond lovingly, with our whole being.

This Thursday evening, July 6, we will begin at 6:30 with anorientation to mindfulness practice and to Still Water for those new tothe practice or to our community. You are welcome to join us, to askquestions, to listen, or to share your experiences.

At 7 p.m. our meditation period will begin with a short guidedmeditation. At 8 p.m. our program will feature a segment from aQuestions and Answer Session with Thich Nhat Hanh that took place thispast month. We’ll listen to two questions — on mindfulness andthinking, and on facing our suffering. (An excerpt from Thay’s responseto the first question is below). Then we will share ourexperiences and questions.

Also, this Sunday evening, I will be co-hosting with Abbie the StillWater mindfulness group in Columbia, Maryland. The topic for ourdiscussion will be mindfulness in daily life.

You are invited to join us for one or both of these events.

Warm wishes,

Mitchell Ratner
Senior Teacher


I Think We All Think Too Much by Thich Nhat Hanh 

(From a Question and Answer on June 6, 2006, at Plum Village, France.)

“Usually I do not respond to the situation with my thinking. Iusually respond to the situation with my whole person, not just mythinking. If you have practiced nonviolence, compassion, brotherhood,you know that you have developed that capacity to respond to situationswith brotherhood, understanding, and compassion. So you allow yourselfto respond naturally to the situation. And that response is verypeaceful, very natural, and very pleasant. And if you respond in anon-pleasant way, you know that that is not a natural, a good response.With your capacity of observing, you see why and how this negativeresponse has been produced. And you know that kind of response withoutcompassion, without equanimity, without love, has its roots withinyourself. And you may tell yourself that is not the best way ofresponding, as far as you are concerned. Through the practice ofbreathing, you may like to respond differently to that situation, thatwill bring you more peace and the situation more peace.

“In fact, I do not base on my thinking for responding tosituations. I allow myself to respond naturally, first. From time totime we need thinking to intervene. But I don’t think that thinking isthe best ground on which we can base in order to respond. It is likewhen you hear the bell. We don’t have to think that this is the belland I have to stop thinking, stop talking, and I have to breathe in andout. You don’t think. You just respond to the bell in a very naturalway, with pleasure. No thinking is needed. When you walk, when youenjoy the morning sunshine, the trees, the friends, you don’t needthinking to do all that. We have to learn to be in a non-thinking modein order to get in touch with the wonders of life. I think we all thinktoo much.”

Discussion Date: Thu, Jul 06, 2006


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