POSTED BY: Oliver Ross \ April 2, 2016


When we identify with our unappreciative more, better, different thoughts they can entangle us (Chapter 8). Instead of passing through us like small white clouds pass through a vast blue sky, our entanglement in them can become so complete that we no longer have the awareness needed to recognize the delusional message they carry. Our entanglement blinds us to the actuality that our thoughts are nothing other than mind-made mental constructs which cannot define us unless we let them deceive us into believing we are not enough as a person and/or don’t have enough achievements and acquisitions, or conversely, that to be content we need more and more, better and better, and different upon different of this or that person or thing.

The greater our identification with our not-enough thoughts, the greater our entanglement with the same or similar thoughts. So too the greater our entanglement in the mad, bad, sad and other negative emotions generated by these thoughts.

An ancient Buddhist parable illustrates how we can become entangled in our unappreciative more, better, different thoughts and the emotions they generate: Two monks are walking towards a riverbank and see a woman obviously distressed about crossing it on foot. So one of the monks scoops up the woman in his arms and deposits her on the other side, while the other monk crosses on his own. The two monks continue their journey in silence but a couple of hours later the monk who crossed the river on his own angrily lashes out at the other monk for having broken his vow to never to touch a female, whereupon the other monk calmly responds, “I put that woman down a couple of hours ago. Why are you still carrying her?”

The monk who lashed out had become so entangled in (i.e., identified with) unappreciative thoughts about the other monk’s conduct in carrying the woman across the river he became mad and angrily lashed out. Because his mind was filled with not-enough thoughts along the lines that the other monk should or could have been more mindful of or better at keeping his vow, or found a different way to help the woman without breaking his vow instead of thoughts based in appreciation for the other monk having relieved the woman’s distress, he lacked the awareness required to have responded compassionately instead of reacted angrily.