In the Diamond Sutra there is a Buddhist philosophy that states, “It’s impossible to retain a past thought, to seize a future thought, or even to hold onto a present thought.” What I find interesting is this is easily examined for truthfulness by experimenting with it. Try to hold onto any thought and we find we can’t, it fades and is replaced by the next thought. Why is this important? Because I can’t decide now what might come up in the stream of thought later.
No matter what decisions I make now about the future, all rising thoughts and my emotional response will occur without any conscious “thinking.” We can’t decide to “think nice thoughts” or “not think that” or “make up our minds.” We are simply receiving and noticing what thoughts rise next. I am producing those thoughts subconsciously at close to the speed of light and chemical interactions, by the time I’m conscious of a thought it’s formed.
I stopped beating myself up for what thoughts rise a while ago, now the focus is on being in these moments, in proximity to body and breath, and respond from that perspective. The stream of thought is an amazing part of the human process, always examining, curious, and extrapolating. In noticing how the stream of thought operates we finally realize that it chatters on endlessly and we don’t control the chatter, only how we respond to it. My responsibility is not with the thoughts that rise, but what I do with and about them. Thoughts are not real, only musings about what may be, was, or possible.