Excerpt About Thinking

The Basic Ingredients of Our Suffering

So the mind makes possible many human attributes that other creatures on earth do not share. We have memory, we have conceptualization and thinking processes; along with these come emotional development, a sense of identity, a world view, a perspective on reality. These relate directly to the mind, which registers all our thoughts and experiences as memories. These memories then determine what we expect, how we look at reality, what we think we are and what we think we need. And you probably know from self-observation, this is the cause of our suffering. If you didn’t remember past bad times, you wouldn’t be frightened now; and if you didn’t recall the good times, you would have no desires and longings. Without the capacity for remembering, there would be no suffering. You’d be like a contented tree or animal. These elements of the mind—memory, conceptualization, thinking processes, creation of images, projections into the future, and so forth—become the basic ingredients of our suffering. Ideas and experiences from the past, from early childhood as well as later on, good and bad, form the foundation of your assumptions about who you are. For example, if as a youngster your mother always thinks you’re cute, you’ll build up an idea that you’re a cute person. If she thinks you’re dumb, you’ll build up an idea that you’re dumb. If, for whatever reason, you always feel weak with your father, you’ll build up an idea that you’re a weak person. Not only that, both your mother and father think you’re a person, so you build up an idea that you’re a person. Right? It is very basic. Your mother talks to you as a child in a body; who’s she talking to? You look at your body and decide that it’s you. Your mind holds on to these childhood happenings and stores them in its memory. They become the building blocks of what you think you are, and then you’re stuck with them.

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