Earlier in my life, I used to waste an inordinate amount of mental energy dealing with what I felt were “bad thoughts” (i.e. thoughts which I felt were “wrong” for me to think). If a “bad thought” happened to pass through my head, I would immediately attempt to get rid of it (to no avail, of course, since we cannot really control what we think). Try as I might, the thought would most often keep returning, almost as if to taunt me, and I would struggle to stop it. This occupied much time which I could have otherwise spent productively.
Also, since I was not successful in getting rid of “bad thoughts,” I decided that I was in a hopeless situation. This invoked worrying about how my life was going to be wasted because of “wrong” thinking, and anxiety about whether I would ever be able to fix the problem. More time frittered away.
To make things worse, my hopelessness created downstream effects of dejection and low self-esteem.
The acute mental distress I thus experienced forced me to look for a solution. After much searching and effort, I came across an enlightened person; the great thing was that he wanted to help me find happiness and was infinitely patient. He would not only solve my problem, he said, but would rebuild my psyche into something akin to a shimmering palace.
In time I learned from him that I am the silent being that is aware of my thoughts and am therefore in a way separate from them. Secondly, he taught me that there are no "good thoughts" and no "bad thoughts"; there are only thoughts. He explained that thoughts are like birds flying across the sky and that I should just watch them; I should not try to chase any of the birds away or capture any of them, just watch them fly by.
It took me time to make this attitude fully my own. However, at a certain point in my transformation, I began to find happiness in my emerging new attitude; I did not want to abandon the attitude because it made me utterly peaceful, and the peace was invincible.
I remember thinking to myself how I had wasted so many years in unnecessary pain and misery. When I thought about it in more depth, though, it struck me that perhaps that distress was necessary for me to find happiness. I had to go through it to want and find a solution. I concluded that I should be grateful for the distress.
I know for a fact that many people are trapped by the notion of “good thoughts” and “bad thoughts.” Usually this notion comes to us in our younger years from outside … most commonly from our parents, teachers or trusted friends. They were certainly well-meaning when they advised us; but unknown to them, they were absolutely wrong in their belief.
Allowing thoughts to pass freely without wanting them to stay or trying to stop them takes courage and time. But the courage is in you and the time is well worth it. Start now, find happiness and make your life more meaningful and productive!
To your permanent happiness,