A thought is only the fleeting conjunction of myriad factors and circumstances

March 3, 2015

Thoughts shape the world. People thinking over the course of human history have created many, many positive things -- electricity, indoor plumbing, you name it -- so it seems strange for me to think that a quote like this is good.

“Remember that a thought is only the fleeting conjunction of myriad factors and circumstances. It does not exist by itself. When a thought arises, recognize its empty nature. It will immediately lose its power to elicit the next thought. And the chain of delusion will be broken.”

~ Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Yet when it comes to the way we think about ourselves and others sometimes, I do like this quote. When I think, “I suck,” or, “I wish I had done so-and-so today instead of what I actually did,” that’s the kind of thinking I try to let go of. Many times I’m successful in letting things go; other times I think I am, but then years later the same thoughts come back. But the more I stay at it, the more these thoughts fade.

It’s a balancing act, really. I want to be able to find and know love, but also be okay with loss.


I don’t like the Buddhist word “emptiness,” or in this case, “empty nature.” Personally, depending on the context, I take emptiness to mean transient, impermanent, or more often, interdependent. This article on Huffington Post titled, Emptiness: The Most Understood Word in Buddhism explains some of the problem.

The important part is that emptiness does not mean nothingness. When a Buddhist says something is “empty of inherit existence,” it just means that a flower can’t grow without water, sunlight, oxygen, and soil; everything is interdependent.

(And don’t even get me started on the word delusion.)

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