You Don’t Really Need to Think

William B. Turner
2 min readJan 9
The Buddha

If you stop and think about it (!), you will notice that, when you have a thought, you necessarily already knew what you were about to think before you had the thought.

This is necessarily so. Unless you have a fairy or other entity inside your head that whispers to you what to think, the content of the thought is already in your head before you think it. Where else could it come from?

Chogyam Trungpa, the Tibetan master, liked to say, “First thought, best thought,” which is sort of a different way of stating the same idea.

You may have found yourself in situations in which you decided that stopping to rethink (!) before you acted was the best course, and that may have worked well for you. People who have done systematic research in human decision making say that humans tend to do what we want, then come up with some apparently rational explanation. Or, as one Buddhist teacher put it, we are not rational creatures, we are rationalizing creatures.

But the original observation applies to all of this: no matter whether your reasons are pre hoc or post hoc. They have to come from somewhere, and on the Buddhist path, we tend to think that they come from ultimate consciousness, which pervades the universe and makes all knowledge and thought possible. The best way, the only way that I know, to perceive ultimate consciousness and bring it to awareness, is to meditate.

Apparently, awakening fully consists in switching entirely over to ultimate consciousness as the default perspective from which all perception and cognition (thinking?) occurs. This wholesale transformation of consciousness is profound for the person who experiences it, but may be invisible to other people.

but no need to worry about that. Just keep up your consistent meditation practice.

I hope to start a Buddhist Vihara as a site where people can visit for meditation courses and long retreats. You may help by donating here. My thanks to everyone who has already donated.

William B. Turner

Uppity gay, Buddhist, author, historian.