Thought renunciation, February 23rd, 2009

Arinna Weisman and Jean Smith

Renunciation is an effective way to break the “top ten tapes” we play in our heads over and over again. We know most of our thoughts well because we have thought the same thoughts repeatedly. Have you noticed that after a while they do not contribute anything to your understanding or well-being? When was the last time you had an original thought? It is a wonderful practice to renounce a thought after having it more than two or three times.

Sometimes it is harder to renounce repetitive thoughts than at other times, especially if we have not looked at the underlying emotions associated with them. Before we can let go of a thought, we may have to acknowledge complex feelings below the surface, so it is valuable to take the time for an open-hearted investigation.

Some habitual thought patterns are so strong that renouncing them requires the energy of a spiritual warrior. We can call on this energy just as the Buddha called on the earth as his witness when was sitting under the bodhi tree. We can even say out loud, “No! No! I will no go with you. I call on all my powers of strength, love, and wisdom to resist this thought.” Some of our negative thought patterns have been repeated so often they “feel true.” It is their familiarity that creates this illusion. There are absolutely no negative thought patterns that are true. One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is to renounce negative patterns of thought.

-Arinna Weisman and Jean Smith, The Beginner’s Guide to Insight Meditation

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