That is, if you can remember to ask yourself — repeatedly.
The trick is keeping this short query-to-self in the frontal cortex and at the ready.
Is what I’m thinking that which is wholesome or that which is not?
I heard the suggestion listening to Mark Webber’s 15 recordings from his month-long Dharma retreat last year called “All About Karma.” (No I’m not a Buddhist, but the philosophy/religions’s most basic tenets “do no harm” is worthy embracing). Webber says karma is causality, which is a different interpretation than most Asians or Westerners have. Karma, he says, is the activity of doing, which is causation. Karma is mental intent and the resultant activity. The source is our thoughts. To begin to see this, in his retreat Webber instructs his practitioners how to significantly slow down cognition.
Apparently, what certain enlightened individuals in the metaphysical realm have realized thousands of years ago, and what our scientific community is recently discovering is that;
- Thoughts are chemical impulses with real consequences. Although thoughts are mostly stories (illusions), they are not innocent. The chemical impulses, no matter how slight, create a cause and effect.
- Everything, meaning every human, animal, bug, plant, or thing on this earth is connected.
Is what I’m thinking that which is wholesome or that which is not? is a question one could ask of every thought, no matter how seemingly benign. Thoughts either spark a positive charge or one that is negative. They either construct or destruct. And while we may deem some to be neutral, every thought still produces a resulting consequence.
Of course, the topic is quite a bit deeper than a meager blog post could justify. Listening to the retreat, more than 25 hours worth, left me realizing what an underdeveloped human I am. Short of having the question on post-a-notes everywhere, most of us would need a lifetime of meditation to see causality as part of our stream of consciousness.
Except for a few individuals, most humans live with a busy thought voice every waking hour. The voice is usually too occupied to be interrupted for a self-evaluation. But like the beauty of compounded interest, many tiny (positive) thought adjustments accumulate to much larger (positive) effects. If, for example, just a couple of key times each day, especially those moments when someone does something we don’t like, or we must do something we don’t fancy, or when we are annoyed for whatever reason, we were to invoke this question-to-self and make small perspective adjustments from negative to positive, we could, without sounding dramatically gushy, contribute, in no small way, to changing our lives, and those around us, for the better.