Thoughts like Clouds

by Friends of Godwin


An important discovery we can make in meditation is how to work with the thoughts we are having and our states of mind. What is more useful and meaningful is not so much to be concerned about the thoughts, but to work with our states of mind in relation to the thoughts that are coming and going.

In this connection there is a beautiful metaphor that is used in Tibetan Buddhism which I like very much. In the metaphor, the mind is compared to the spacious sky and the thoughts to clouds. That is very beautiful. In practical terms, it means you allow thoughts to come and go like the clouds and yet you remain in a non-reactive state with this spaciousness.

However, as we are still human, I am sure we will be reacting to some of them; even though it is nice to be human with some of the clouds, with some of the thoughts. As a reaction is when we use thoughts creatively, we can explore and investigate our reactions.

You will understand that these reactions are generally related to this very strong habit we have of making judgments, of giving plusses and minuses. We need to learn about the judgments we make, understanding that sometimes we need to use judgements functionally. However, understanding this process of giving plusses and minuses also opens up a very, very important area for us to explore regarding how we relate to ourselves and how we relate to others.

Again what is interesting is we never question the plusses and minuses we give! Where do they come from? Who taught us to be our own teachers, giving ourselves marks and so on?