In our studies, having thoughts and analyzing them are important; in our cultivation having the right thoughts in life or no thoughts in meditation are equally if not more important. What is reality or what is falsity in our minds are derived from just that, thought. Thoughts make a man. From thoughts come words and actions therefore right thoughts give rise to right actions; good thoughts lead to good actions; good actions lead to sincerity, just as kind thoughts make us kind.
Therefore when people say, ‘It is the thought that counts’, or when the Chinese say, ‘Yu Hsin’ (Have heart/mind), they are onto something close to the truth, although the particular thought or action touches their hearts, without deeper analysis they would not realize it.
In the Da Chuan / The Great Treatise, it is said:
1. “Looking upward, we contemplate with its help the signs of heavens; looking down, we examine the lines of earth. Thus we come to know the circumstances of the dark and the light.” These verses show that the ancients used their thoughts to fathom deeper implications of the Book of Changes by contemplation of heavenly signs and the earthly lines of trigrams and hexagrams to know the circumstances of dark and light forces.
2. “Going back to the beginnings of things and pursuing them to the end, we come to know the lessons of birth and of death.” This verse shows by careful deliberation and investigation of things to the limits we may know what governs life and death.
In the Great Learning (Da Xue), it is said: ‘Things being investigated, knowledge became complete. Their knowledge being complete, their thoughts were sincere. Their thoughts being sincere, their hearts were then rectified. Their hearts rectified, their persons were cultivated.’ (Text of Confucius 5)
In volume 8 of the Shurangama Sutra (Leng Yen), Buddha said, “If he puts an end to his stirring thoughts and rids himself of superfluous thinking, it is as if he has purged defilement from the enlightened, understanding mind. Then he is perfectly clear about the births and deaths of all categories of beings from beginning to end. This is the end of the thinking skandha. He can then transcend the turbidity of afflictions. Contemplating the cause of the thinking skandha, one sees that interconnected false thoughts are its source.” He also said that life is perpetuated by thought.
When we are awake we think, when asleep we dream. Only in meditation there will be no thoughts. According to Lu Dongbin only through contemplation and quietness does true intuition arise: for that the backward-flowing method is necessary.
To hold to right thoughts leading to right actions, we study the correct books, mix with the virtuous and learn from the sincere. We meditate and have no thoughts. This would be a way to rectify our hearts through cultivation of essence and bodily life.
All these arose from a simple thought. If you are as confused as me, glad to meet you.