Food for the
Thinking Mind

K. Sri Dhammananda
Throughout the history of mankind,
serious thinkers in various parts of the world
viewed our human existence and sought to find
some meaning in it.  They expressed
their thoughts in wise sayings that have been
preserved and have come down to us.
This book is a collection of some of these sayings
and is offered here so that we too may ponder on the
meaning of our existence and come to understand
some of our problems.  These thoughts
represent the wisdom of many sages and
great thinkers.  The aim is to draw attention
to our common humanity and to show how similar
we are to other members of the human
race with regard to our joys,
sorrows and our aspirations.

The  nature of the mind
1. The mind is naturally radiant,
But external objects pollute the mind
Through the influence of the senses
And mental faculties of defilement.
-Buddha – A. I: 10

No world without mind
2. By mind the world is led,
By mind the world is moved.
And all good and bad things
Exist in the world because of mind.
-Buddha   - S.I: 39

Thoughts create our destiny
3. Thoughts are the invisible
builders of our destiny.
Mind is like the ocean and
thoughts are like waves.
The right mental attitude
4. Be like a lion that trembles not at wounds.
Be like the wind that does not
Cling to the meshes of a net.
Be like a lotus that is not contaminated
By the mud from which it springs up.
Wander alone like a rhinoceros.
-Buddha Sn: 71

No suffering when the mind is calm
5. Whose mind stands like a mountain?
Steady, is not perturbed,
Unattached to things that arouse attachment,
Uninjured by things that provoke anger.
When his mind is cultivated thus,
How can suffering come to him?
Diligent, devoted to the higher mind.
A sage trained in wisdom’s ways,
There are no sorrows for the stable one
Who is calm and ever mindful.

Adjust the mind accordingly
6. One who does not know how to adjust his
mind according to circumstances
would be like a corpse in a coffin.
Calmness creates mental
and physical health
7. A calm and peaceful state of mind is conducive
to both mental and physical well being.
-Bhikkhu Visuddhacara

Craving creates suffering
8. From craving springs grief, from craving springs
fear; for him who is wholly free from craving
there is no grief, much less fear.
-Buddha – Dh.

An undeveloped mind
9. As rain penetrates into an ill-thatched house
So lust penetrates into an undeveloped mind.
-Buddha – A. I: 9

Madness in everybody
10. The symptoms of madness can be
found in all worldly beings.
-A Buddhist saying

Mind and umbrella
11. The human  mind is like an umbrella –
functions best when open.
-Walter Gropins

Master and slave of mind
12. A wise man will be the master of his mind.
A fool will be its slave.
-Publius Syrus

Good and bad
13. There is nothing either good or bad,
but thinking makes it so.

What is meditation?
14. Meditation is not a way of making your
mind quiet.  It’s a way of entering into
the quiet that is already there – buried under
the 50,000 thoughts the average person
thinks every day.
Mind over body
15. The mind controls the body.
The body does not control the mind.
The mind can fool the body and
it can kill the body.
-Buddha - Dig

If mind is correct, everything is correct
16. If your mind is in balance,
what need is there to work at morality?
If your mind is pure,
What use is meditation to you?
-Sixth Patriarch

Like and dislikes
17. People are slaves to their likes and dislikes,
so much so that they cannot see straight.
Likes and dislikes are
two extremes created by the mind.
In between is the newtral gear.
-Lessons in Enlightenment

Changing minds
18. A mind that is fast is sick.
A mind that is slow is sound.
A mind that is still is divine.
-Meher Baba

19. Every person has two education, one which he
received from others, and one, more important,
which he gives himself.

Wisdom lingers
20. Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.
-Lord Tennyson

What is real education?
21. The word educate has its roots in the Latin word
“educo” which means to educe, to draw out,
to develop from within.
The best-educated man is the one whose
mind has been the most highly developed.
-Napoleon Hill

Collect little by little
22. Even a pot is filled gradually by little drops of
water.  So should one acquire knowledge and wealth.

Knowledge dispels fear and worry
23. Fear and worry disappear when ignorance is
dispelled by knowledge.
Human reason and cosmic reason
24. Just as our bodies are composed of some
matter to be found throughout the universe,
so must our human reason be part of a universal
cosmic reason.

Who is the real fool?
25. The fool who does not admit he is a fool, is a
real fool.  And the fool who admits he is a fool
is wise to that extent at least.
-Buddha – Dh

Proper understanding towards wrongdoers
26. If a man does something wrong to you through
his ignorance or misunderstanding, that is the
most opportune time for you to use your wisdom,
your education, and understanding.
Kind-hearted fools
27. Kindness, honesty and patience without common
sense are fertile grounds for cunning people to
take advantage of those who possess such
good qualities.  Some people regard them as
kind-hearted fools.
Evil doers are ignorant
28. Many people perfom evil because of ignorance
rather than wickedness by nature.  As such, they
need guidance rather than punishment.
Second class human beings
29. People who do not think for themselves and
always borrow ideas from others are second-class
human beings.

Belief and thinking
30. Those who believe do not think.
Those who think do not believe.
-Sigmund Freud

Those who never change their minds
31. Very intelligent men and really stupid men
both do not change their minds.

You can learn from your enemies too
32. You should not think that you could only learn
from those who praise you, help you, and
associate with you very closely.  You also could
learn many things from your enemies.  You
should not think they are entirely wrong just
because they happened to be your enemies.  They
may also possess certain good qualities.
Enemies reveal your mistakes
33. Do not hate your enemies for they will
reveal your faults.
Realisation comes not only through
experience but by thinking
34. A shoal of fish came across an obstruction with
an unusually small opening in the water.  It was
a trap laid by a fisherman to catch fish.  Some
fishes wanted to go inside to see what it was,
but the more experienced fishes advised them not
to do so because it could be a dangerous trap.

A young fish asked, “how do we know
whether it is dangerous or not? We must go in
and see.  Only then can we understand what it
is.”  So some of them went in and got caught in
the trap.
Prejudice arises from ignorance
35. Prejudice is the child of ignorance.
Two kinds of fools
36. Those who abuse their intellect are called
intellectual fools and those who develop
emotional kindness without reasoning are called
kind-hearted fools.

Buddha also says that there are two kinds
of fools:  those who undertake unnecessary
burdens and those who do not undertake
necessary responsibilities.
How I understood myself
37. At forty, I had no more doubts.
At fifty, I new the will of heaven.
At sixty, I was ready to listen to it.
At seventy, I could follow my heart’s desire
Without transgressing what was right.

Education is learning to be disciplined
38. Education does not mean teaching people to know
what they do not know; it means teaching them
to behave as they do not behave.
-John Ruskin

A wise man is quiet
39. The quiet man is not necessarily wise,
but usually the wise man is quiet.
Knowledge comes from many sources
40. A student acquires a quarter of his knowledge
from his teacher, another quarter from his own
intelligence, the third quarter from his co-students
and the last quarter in course of time from

When you understand yourself,
you understand everything
41. When you try to understand everything,
You will not understand anything,
When you understand yourself,
You will understand everything.
-Shunryn Suzuki

How to see the Buddha
42. One of the disciples of the Buddha named Vakkali
had a habit of gazing upon him everyday.
The Buddha having noticed this asked, “What
are you doing here?”
Vakkali’s reply was “Venerable Sir, when I look
at the serene features and good complexion
of your body, that itself gives me a lot of
The Buddha then asked, “What do you expect
to gain by admiring this body which is dirty, ugly,
smelly, impermanent? One who sees the Dharma,
sees the Buddha.”

This should help you to understand how to
see the real Buddha.  If you indeed want to see
the real Buddha, then you must reflect on that
Buddha in your mind through the realisation of
his teaching.
-the Dharma

Do not cling to your beliefs
43. O Bhikkus, even this view
(Teaching of the Buddha)
Which is so pure and so clear,
If you cling to it,
If you fondle it,
If you treasure it,
If you are attached to it,
Then you do not understand
That the teaching is similar to a raft,
Which is for crossing over and
Not for getting hold of.
-Buddha – M.I: 260; Miln: 316

Be patient
44. Patience is the companion of wisdom.
-St. Augustine

What is soft is strong
45. Water is fluid, soft and yielding.  But water will
wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield.
As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft and
yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and
hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.
-Lao Tze

Beginning of wisdom
46. Kindness is more important than wisdom,
and the recognition of this is
the beginning of wisdom.
-Theodore Isaac Rubin

The foundation of knowledge
47. The fountain of knowledge does not spring
accidentally.  Educators who seek ways to quench
mankind’s thirst for knowledge dig it through
layers of ignorance.
Knowledge – what we know – means
little unless intelligently applied to serve others.
The means of education
48. The things taught in schools and colleges are not
an education, but the means of education.
-R. W. Emerson

How does man become wise?
49. The Yaksha asked, “By the study of
which science does man become wise?”
Yudhishthra replied, “Not by studying any book
does man become wise.  It is by association with
the great in wisdom that he gets wisdom.”

Education is sweet
50. The roots of education are bitter,
but the fruit is sweet.

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