The Intellect is Part of the Problem.

Via Daniel Scharpenburg
on Jul 11, 2013
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When we are thinking about the future or the past instead of focusing on what we are doing in the present, that is our intellect causing trouble.

It is helpful if we can act without letting our intellect distract us. I experience this distraction when I don’t get enough sleep because I’m too busy thinking about the past or the future. I can’t relax.

I definitely experience this when I’m trying to meditate. Constant discursive thinking makes meditation incredibly difficult.

The intellect is part of the problem–-this reminds me of that old saying, “You need to get out of your own way.” It’s a cliche, but I think it’s really relevant to this discussion.

Our minds are our greatest strength, but also our greatest weakness. The intellect is the seat of our trouble because it’s the source of all of our ignorance and distractions.

The Diamond Sutra teaches us that we need to focus on disciplining our minds to help with the trouble our intellect causes for us. The Buddha said to Subhuti, “All the Bodhisattva heroes should discipline their minds.

This is a very important message. Peace is within and we achieve it by disciplining our minds. In order to train our minds, we practice meditation.

Later in the sutra, the Buddha says, “All Bodhisattvas, lesser and great, should develop a pure, lucid mind.”

It is our minds that trap us in the delusions of ego and dualism.

The Buddha makes it clear that ego is a delusion when he says, “Though the common people accept egoity as real, the Tathagata declares that ego is not different from non-ego.”

It’s important to remember that our egotism, our belief that we are separate from everything else, is delusional. The truth is that there is no dualism. All things are connected. It can be easy to fall into the delusion of dualistic thinking, even during our Buddhist practice.

It is the great danger that our intellect presents and is something we need to watch out for.


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Assistant Ed: Stephanie Richard




About Daniel Scharpenburg

Daniel Scharpenburg lives in Kansas City with two kids and two cats. He teaches classes in Buddhist studies at the Rime Buddhist Center, where he's starting a Zen meditation group in the near future. He's studied with a wide variety of different Buddhist teachers and is a dedicated follower of the Zen tradition. He received personal instruction from Shi Da Dao, in the Caodong (Soto) tradition, and he has served as jisha (personal attendant) to Karen Maezen Miller on a Zen retreat. He's the writer of Notes from a Buddhist Mystic Find out more about Daniel on his blog and connect with him on Facebook and  Twitter.


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