Among the many simple and wise statements from the Buddha, this one provides particularly clear direction: “The mind is everything. What you think you become.”
So, what do you think about this? What’s your knee jerk thought reaction? For some it will be rejection. “Too simplistic.” For others it will be doubt. “Could be, not sure.” For others, it’s “Right on.”
Your reaction reveals your habitual thinking. And that’s what the quote is designed to challenge and change. If what the Buddha says is true – and for the deniers and doubters this is an invitation to play a maybe game – then you are all powerful.
You are all powerful, relative to determining what you think. Is that true? Perhaps, theoretically. But in practice, our thinking is influenced by a million invisible factors like beliefs, habits, convictions, and what your parents told you, etc. This comprises your thought programming.
It’s what leads to abuse and war. For example, a person believes that those with different colored skin are inferior, perhaps not even fully human. Their thinking makes them become a bigot and a hate monger, in extreme cases, a murderer. And they justify what is clearly inhuman behavior by the way they think (and feel; emotion is always involved). Millions of people have done this and still do this… it’s called racism.
So, what do you want to become? It seems simple enough to choose to be a loving, considerate, productive person. Ah, with that done, comes the follow through, which is traditionally where we stumble (think New Year’s Resolutions). But there’s a fundamental difference here between what you decide to do and who you decide to become.
The person you decide to become, exhibiting the qualities that kind of person would naturally have, will tend to consistently act according to those character values in every situation (automatically challenging their old thinking as they encounter their own entrenched beliefs). This is far more effective than picking off one challenging “to do” at a time.
“What you think you become.” Having read this explanation, what do you think about them now?