Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Hitchhiking Thoughts

We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far. – Swami Vivekananda

One of the things I’ve always liked most about
Eknath Easwaran is his ability to illustrate powerful spiritual concepts with concrete, clear, and simple analogies. For instance, he believed that our thoughts shape our actions and lives and that bad thoughts create unhappy actions and lives, whereas good or wise thoughts help create happy lives. He illustrates this by advising us to compare thoughts to hitchhikers standing at the side of the road holding up signs announcing their destination. Good and bad thoughts are out there, and we can’t help but encounter them along our journey through life. However, we can choose whether to stop and pick them up or drive right by them. Yet, we must examine their signs carefully to make sure of where that they’re going before we decide whether or not to let them into our car. Says Easwaran: “There is sympathy in the world: pick it up. There is antipathy in the world: don’t pick it up. Hatred destroys. Love heals.”

Seeing thoughts in this way helps me to exercise more effective control over my own thinking. I can more readily “pass up” or let go of harmful thoughts while taking on beneficial thoughts and letting them guide me to wholesome places. It may sound simplistic on paper, but it is remarkably effective in real life. This seems true of much of Easwaran’s teaching.

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