Freeing your thoughts

by Robert Wolfe on June 6th, 2016

You want to know what is meant when you see the phrase “thought-free”.

If you concern yourself with whether you are thought-free or not thought-free, would it be possible to be “thought free”, in that circumstance?

As the Dzochen Rinpoche Tulku Orgyen has commented:

“Checking, ‘Is there a thought now; or (am I) free of thought?’— isn’t that just another thought?”
These teachers speak of a “natural” mind. During your day, all sorts of thoughts come and go, spontaneously arising and dissolving, like surf washing up on a beach. Isn’t this what is natural to all of us?

Tulku Rinpoche has said, “ it is not beneficial to continuously pursue a special, thought-free mental state. Rather, simply allow yourself to be in naturalness, free of any fabrication”; that is, conceiving of, and attempting to engineer, some special state of mind or condition for thought. “Thought-free means free of conceptual thinking,” he states.

Tulku’s eldest son, Chokyi Nyima also speaks of the dualistic distinction between “thought” as compared to “thought-free”.

“What is to be practiced has nothing to do with thoughts and conceptual mind…The main practice is to simply rest vividly awake in this nondual awareness. Relax loosely, and remain naturally. Totally relax and do not check or question; remain totally free from accepting or rejecting—that is the conducive situation for meeting the natural face of awareness. Apart from this, you don’t need anything else to meditate upon.

“Whenever something is denied, something is affirmed at the same time. Whenever something is rejected, another thing is automatically accepted. This dualism is the very nature of conceptual judgment.

“When not involved in any kind of conceptual judging, that itself is innate suchness, thought-free wakefulness, and genuine ordinary mind.”

He has further stated:

“When leaving this fresh ordinary mind as it is, without correcting or modifying it, without altering it in any way, without accepting and rejecting, there is no fixating on anything.
“In the guidance manuals for meditation, it is often phrased like this: do not alter your present fresh wakefulness. Do not rearrange even as much as a hair tip. Just leave it exactly as it is. This is very profound, and there is a lot to understand here…

In the present moment, do not correct,
Do not modify,
Do not accept or reject.
Don’t try to rearrange your present wakefulness.
Instead, leave it as it naturally is
Without any attempt to alter it in any way.
That is called sustaining your natural face.”

Another son of Tulku Rinpoche, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, speaks in detail about the innate naturalness of the mind free of such dualistic concepts as thought versus no thought:
“Like many of the people I now meet on teaching tours, I thought that natural mind had to be something else, something different from, or better than, what I was already experiencing. Like most people, I brought so much judgment to my experience. I believed that thoughts of anger, fear, and so on (that came and went throughout the day) were bad or counterproductive—or at the very least inconsistent with natural peace! The teachings of the Buddha—and the lesson inherent in this exercise in non-meditation—is that if we allow ourselves to relax and take a mental step back, we can begin to recognize that all these different thoughts are simply coming and going within the context of an unlimited mind, which, like space, remains fundamentally unperturbed by whatever occurs within it.

“All you have to do is rest your mind in its natural openness. No special focus, no special effort, is required. And if for some reason you cannot rest your mind, you can simply observe whatever thoughts, feelings, or sensations come up (hang out for a couple of seconds and then dissolve) and acknowledge, ‘Oh, that’s what’s going on in my mind right now.’ Wherever you are, whatever you do, it’s essential to acknowledge your experience as something ordinary, the natural expression of your true mind. If you don’t try to stop whatever is going on in your mind, but merely observe it, eventually you’ll begin to feel a tremendous sense of relaxation, a vast sense of openness within your mind—which is in fact your natural mind, the natural unperturbed background against which various thoughts come and go.”


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