Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Truth with a Capital T

    It is neither good nor bad but thinking makes it so. 
William Shakespeare

  Every moment we are faced with choices to interpret our immediate circumstances as good or bad, negative or positive. We can be aggravated we are doing dishes or grateful for the hot water and soap. Really our lives are viewed through layers of thought that shape our perception. Right now I can be frustrated with my fuzzy winter hair or grateful that I have hair. I can assume that my business is growing so slowly because "everybody hates me, nobody loves me and I should go eat worms" or I can be grateful that it is growing and grateful that I have a job in the exact field I want to be in. I can notice my husbands sweet smile or the stain on his shirt.  Every moment is a choice to be light or to continue to wallow in darkness. "Choose this day whom you will serve" is a common statement in Judeo-Christian literature. So will I serve my best self and continue to refine my thoughts or will I bow down to darkness? Probably like you: a little of both.
     On one level we all know how important our thoughts are. They really do create your life or at least your perception of your life. But on the other hand most of us do not apply as much effort to examining our thoughts as we do choosing our clothes. One of my favorite meditation teachers Tara Brach says that we are mostly lost in a "trance of thought". My most favorite meditation Teacher ever, Jesus, says to "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind". I have a vivid memory of a scene about 20 years ago. I was walking my dog on a sunny day in our quiet Florida neighborhood and from out of nowhere I had the strong thought "How do people even begin to control their minds?" Before this exact moment mental management was not even a concept on my radar. I just assumed that our toddler like minds had complete control to fill our heads with random thoughts.

     So fast forward 20 years and I am enlightened, or not haha. But I do now know a good place to begin to train your minds. In Philippians 4:8 we are instructed to think about certain things the first of which is to have "true" thoughts. What, you assumed that just because you had a thought that it that it was true? Yea, so did I years ago. But Truth is a very subjective subject. Some people insist that if something is perceivable with their senses it is true. But what about the story of the blind men who feel different ends of the elephant? The one man "knew" that he was feeling a tree trunk the other "knew" that he was feeling a snake. Our senses may or may not be leading our minds to think true thoughts.
     I have found that in general any thought that begins with "always or never" is usually not true. Any thought about yourself that you are too much or not enough is generally not true. Any thought about another persons feelings, motivations or intentions is surely not true as we can't know the depths of any human but ourselves. I find it helpful when a thought has an emotional charge to simply stop and consider "Is this thought true?". Someone insults you and you think "what a jerk" and that thought leads you to tense your shoulders and tensing your shoulders leads you to feeling stressed. STOP, rewind ... was the original statement an insult  or an observation? Was the original statement a reflection of the speaker or the hearer? Was the original statement true or not? If it was true then do something about it and if it was not true why are you insulted at all? There are very few absolute truths in this life, truth with a capital T if you will. But this I believe is one: Our thoughts make us move toward light and love or fear and darkness so it is valuable to consider if they are even true. This is one step towards beginning your mental transformation. Not the only step or the only way but perhaps it is a way that will serve to launch your meditation practice as it did mine. Think about what you're thinking about today. Is it true?